The Wolf of a College Degree

As the year wraps up, there has been many changes in terms of educational politics and the awareness of obtaining a college degree that can became a lifelong nightmare for many.

A recent example is ITT closing its doors this year; however, ITT story is not a unique one. Many students have witnessed the rise of fraudulent online universities. Also, there is another rise of Diploma Mills.

Like false religion institutions, online schools is also a hot money maker. Yet, it is important to notice the major differences between For-Profit universities and community colleges or non-profit universities is accreditation.

For-Profit universities or colleges are owned and operated by private corporations or primarily private owners. Of course, there are universities that are Private, but they are accredited. A way a student can investigate before applying to any school is visiting  https://www.hlcommission.org/component/directory/

The link is from the Higher Learning Commission website. The link gives the option to type in a school’s name or by state and you can find out if the school is legally operating. Another accreditation commission agency is WASC.

Signs that a school is investing in getting your money and not your education is their predatory practices in recruitment. Another sign is the one mentioned previously, accreditation. Also, if a school operates more like a call center and their address is not an actual building – beware! Specially, online schools are known to have odd addresses and providing incredible success stories.

ITT had several advertisements featuring amazing successful stories. However, one day I recorded the commercial and read closely the small print that appeared in their advertisement. In comparison to other universities campaigns, I don’t recall a suspicious small print in the bottom of my screen.

Basically, the summary of the small print told a different story that was advertised. While the commercial, the alumni mentioned that ITT helped him find a job. The small print described the obvious reality that it is based on the person’s performance in order to retain their job or obtaining a job. Lastly, in a different online ad there is a disclosure note about Financial AID and the closing statement should have been in bolder letters: Credits are unlikely to transfer.

The Department of Education should also learn the lesson from Corinthians colleges and ITT. The problem is that online education, schools lacking accreditation, and diploma mills is that they are not regulated.

Nowadays, there are millions of online schools that operate and successfully obtain millions of dollars from aspiring students; however, the student ends up without a degree and a lifelong debt.

Besides the shut-down of ITT and Corinthians colleges, Donald Trump also owned a fraudulent institution called: Trump University. Like most frauds, it sold the dream of stability, success, and wealth. Tuition rate for Trump’s school was estimated $35,000. Not only this university was a scam. The whole institution was a warning sign. Their core courses were based on events and packages as part of their curriculum. Their instructors were not professionals. Many of them went from sales to instructors and they were hand picked by Trump.

One of them had an interview for CNN, James Harris a former instructor was the number one recruiter. As he pointed out during the interview, “he was just doing his job.” The problem with this philosophy was the predatory pattern of selling the fantasy of Trump’s success. Another odd perspective of the interview was the failure to answer basic questions of his life. Harris’ couldn’t respond to what he had claimed he has done in his life. How can someone not be prepared to answer a question about his previous job experience? The reality is clear Trump University is another example of a switch-and-bait.

As mentioned earlier, the rise of the diploma mill is another competitor for students that legally obtained a degree. By conducting a google search, there are millions of websites that will create a diploma to an actual school transcript. According to CNN Money, Diploma Mills companies gain $200 million a year and they are not prosecuted. It is a legal business and as an alumni I can say that I many not be exercising my degree, but I know that I obtained that diploma after many nights of not sleeping and plenty of dedication. It is an insult that it is a legal business.

This marks the question if higher education is worth it? What happens to those that paid for their diploma and obtained a job without a single test? It is beyond unfair.

In conclusion, beware of schools that will do anything to get your money.

Signs of a possible scam are…

Their accreditation are having the words such as licensed or approved.

Their offices are more like a call center.

The address of their offices are not an actual office or a building.

Their recruitment is aggressive and will promise the impossible.

Do your research. Visit the Higher learning commission website or the site the school is affiliated.

If the school does their best to convince the student to use their credit cards or insist on a private bank loan.

If their curriculum are brief or just seminars.

Even if the school is accredited, make sure your credits are transferable. What’s the point of investing your time and money on a school that your credits or possibly your diploma wouldn’t count?

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