For-profit school recruiters often lie to, and otherwise intentionally deceive potential students.
The quest for education and its increasing demand has led to the mushrooming of numerous private, for-profit colleges across the country. These colleges are, in theory, supposed to provide training and education to individuals who either aren’t able to get into more-established institutions of higher learning, or who wish to enter into specific industries (e.g. art, culinary arts, photography, auto mechanic, etc) and feel that higher education would increase their chances as a successful career. However, MANY of these colleges have been found to use dubious marketing tactics in order to enroll students who would otherwise not enroll—all in the hopes of getting more federal funds coming their way.
While for-profit colleges only enroll 10-13 percent of all students attending college in the country, they receive about a quarter of all funds designated as federal financial aid. At the same time, they have grown at an exponential rate of more than 50 percent over the last couple of years because of the lucrative nature of these institutions.
What’s worrying are the tactics used by these colleges to recruit new students such as:
- Claiming to be accredited by certain well-known accreditation institutions just so they can get students to sign up for a course.
- Claiming that certain degree courses will lead to better careers prospects and a substantial income.
- Misrepresenting student numbers in order to ramp up support for their college.
- Engaging in financial forgery so they can give the impression that their college is doing well.
- Repeated and relentless phone calls to prospective students in order to get them to enroll.
- Misrepresenting graduation rates in order to boost enrollment.
- Encouraging applicants to lie about dependents on their application forms just so the college can receive the maximum in terms of federal financial aid.
- So much more…
Given the proliferation of such colleges and the lack of accountability, it’s no surprise that these schools are engaging in aggressive marketing practices as well as spending massive amounts of money to further their marketing campaigns. This is all done at the expense of a high quality education. This leaves no funds to help with purchasing supplies or hiring qualified personnel and lecturers. In fact, in the 2009 fiscal year, 30 for-profit schools reportedly spent 22.7% on marketing, advertising, admissions and recruitment; 19.4% on pre-tax profit; and only 17.2% on instruction (source).
At the same time, these colleges have been known to give bonuses to sales/admissions personnel depending on how many students they sign up. This puts money ahead of everything else, creating a culture of deceit. The government has stepped up its efforts by enacting legislation to try to rein in these colleges. However, these unethical practices still exist, and it’s your responsibility as a person seeking an education to do your part in stopping them.
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