None dare call it class warfare

What’s Good For The For-Profit Colleges Is Good For America

Looks legit to usAs Barbara Ehrenreich noted in Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, it can cost a hell of a lot to be poor. From residential motels that charge by the week (but don’t require a deposit) to rent-to-own furniture stores and predatory used-car loans, there is a thriving segment of the market dedicated to charging poor people a premium for stuff that would otherwise not be available at all.

In a terrific Village Voice article, Chris Parker takes us on a tour of the double-markup inner-city bodegas of education, the for-profit college industry. Both business models are adept at converting their customers’ government aid — food stamps for the bodega, subsidized student loans and GI Bill benefits for the colleges — into tidy private profits. But where the bodega is typically owned by recent immigrants living in the neighborhood, for-profit schools are hugely profitable enterprises owned by investment firms with a well-organized lobbying arm. (Korean grocers beware: Goldman Sachs probably has you in their sights next.)

Parker presents a survey course — Intro to Scams — of the interconnected tactics and loopholes that allow operators of for-profit college to make a killing. In a grimly evolutionary sense, it’s kind of inspiring: Who would have thought someone could get rich selling higher education to people who have neither money nor a sound educational background, with schools where the failure rate is 80% — twice as high as in traditional colleges and universities? Cue Jeff Goldblum: Capitalism finds a way.

Those seeming disadvantages become opportunities for profit when a college’s primary goal is not the inculcation of knowledge, but rather the extraction of money, and recruiters don’t mind tossing aside pesky concerns like “ethics.” There’s actually pretty good money to be found in low-income students: paradoxically, their lack of resources qualifies them for some sweet loans and grants from federal education programs, as much as $100,000 for a student pursuing a bachelor’s degree. The money goes to the college, the debt goes to the student, and if students default on repayment — which they do at about double the rate of students in traditional schools — then ultimately goes to the taxpayer. We were moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this arrangement, and let out a respectful whistle. That’s some catch, that Catch-EDU.

And what a merry bag of tricks some of the more creative schools have at their disposal! A Michigan 14-year-old who clicks on an online ad offering to help find money for college is called by a sales rep for Ashford University, who enrolls him and then forges the kid’s application for student loans, telling the boy that it would be best if he didn’t tell his parents so they can be surprised when he finishes high school and medical school at the same time. And after a year, when the kid refused to go along with the deception on the financial aid forms, “administrators miraculously discovered that he was under 18. Since this left him ineligible for federal aid, Ashford was forced to return his loan money to the feds.” The school sent the kid a bill for the $13,000 it had tried to borrow on his behalf.

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Or how about Chris Pantzke, a head-injured Iraq-war veteran who was convinced by a recruiter for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh that a rewarding career in photography awaited him, and since he suffered from PTSD that made a traditional classroom setting impossible, why not take the entire program online? Talk about tailoring instruction to meet students’ individual needs! Except, oops, looking at a computer screen gave Pantzke migraines, one of his classes was “taught” by an instructor who was not actually able to get online for much of the course, and the promised assistance for disabled students simply didn’t exist — guess the buyer needs to beware, maybe. After PBS’s Frontline featured Pantzke in a segment on veterans and for-profit schools, Pantzke suddenly started getting A’s and B’s for all his work, regardless of quality, but after a car accident left him unable to type, Panzke dropped out altogether. By that point, Parker notes, “he’d run up $26,000 in debt and burned through an additional $65,000 of his GI Bill benefit — with almost nothing to show for it.”

But isn’t this really just a case of some emptors who needed to caveat a lot more carefully than they did? It makes for a good story for free-marketeers, just as it did during the subprime mortgage crisis: If only those Poors hadn’t misled their well-financed, deceptively marketed, and aggressively-lobbied benefactors in the private sector, they’d be so well-off now! (And we wouldn’t face a Trillion-dollar debt bubble, either.) Darn those poors! Where would they ever get the idea that spending a bundle of borrowed money on a cut-rate education would give them a leg up in life? Other than from all those late-night ads that show high-achieving folks bettering themselves by going back to school, getting job training and a degree, a rags-to-riches dream played out on every third episode of Oprah. Only an idiot would believe that stuff — but an astonishingly cynical industry has proven that it can profit quite handsomely by selling it.

Full Disclosure: Doktor Zoom taught first year composition and business writing at a for-profit school for a couple years (no names; let’s just say it rhymes with “High-Fee-Fee Dreck”). The school actually did have content and academic standards that seemed comparable to a community college (at several times the cost), but there was also never any forgetting the boiler room full of sales staff next to the front office. Always Be Closing!

[ Village Voice]

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About the author

Doktor Zoom Is the pseudonym of Marty Kelley, who lives in Boise, Idaho. He acquired his nym from a fan of Silver-Age comics after being differently punctual to too many meetings. He is not a medical doctor, although he has a real PhD (in Rhetoric and Composition).

View all articles by Doktor Zoom

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259 comments

        1. BerkeleyBear

          AKA how Lenscrafters makes a million while actual ethical eye docs can't get paid for services that help limit the need for glasses.

    1. C_R_Eature

      Just one thing that infuriates me about the for profit college fiasco is the incredible fluffing and apologia for the industry in the Washington Post. Of course, they hardly ever mention that they're so heavily invested in Kaplan.

      1. BerkeleyBear

        Are you suggesting that there isn't an air-tight seal between business and news? How dare you!

        1. C_R_Eature

          I know, that's practically SocialFascistCommieAtheism, as well as Anti-Capitalist Thoughtcrime. I'm so ashamed.

          1. HistoriCat

            You can call the wall whatever you want to … just don't stand in the way when we put certain folks up against it.

      2. finallyhappy

        The Post does those things – like when Lacey or Lucey or Latie(whatever her name is) tried to sell access to the Post at a series of meetings

        1. C_R_Eature

          Ooh, yes. Another shining example of our Private Enterprise Media to the highest bidder. At least Murdoch and Ailes are upfront about their corruption.

      3. magicalkittens

        I just got off active duty last year. They make the benefits seem so awesome, and they are for those who can use them, but there are a lot of "for profit" colleges out there who market very heavily to recently discharged vets like me. I don't have anything against them for trying to turn a profit, but come on, those corporate college degrees are basically useless and they cost as much as SIU! The real kicker? I'm basically dyslexic with no ambition to go to college, I'm happy with my Vo-Tech certificate and whatnot. I got a pretty good job with it. HOWEVER, our society puts such a high premium on college degrees, ANY college degree, that it makes it real easy for these places to prey on others. Plus they offer easy financing options for their worthless products. "Accounting Technology?" Please.

    2. Callyson

      That hack, I mean former spokesperson, for the money grabbing "schools" toward the end of the video sure was sweating bullets. Deservedly so…

      Grrr…

    3. emmelemm

      It actually got hot in this corner of the world, so my blood's already boiling. No thanks!

  1. Biel_ze_Bubba

    There's no way to spend tax dollars (medicaid, defense, education … you name it) without sleazy parasites swooping in to suck out as much as they can get away with. They know that nobody is easier to rip off that the government. Another problem is that there's no downside: instead of actual penalties: in many cases, they just make you promise you won't do it again.

    1. C_R_Eature

      In the best case scenario, you work your way up to the executive level in government, privatize vast sections of the military support system – in the name of fiscal responsibility -incorporate a company specifically designed to do the support system job, get a no bid long term contract, operate on cost plus and 3X multipliers with constant budgetary overruns, cost the government far more than privatization saves, get yourself appointed Vice President, twice and retire to a lucrative consulting business while raking in all the money from your companies stock options in addition to your fabulous government healthcare and pension.

      1. PsycWench

        I'm inclined to believe in their best-case scenario, you appear to be educated but yet have not learned enough to pose the problems those educated people tend to pose.

    2. Doktor Zoom

      The especially insidious part of this scam, of course, is that it not only rips off taxpayers, it also loads up the individual students with tens of thousands of dollars debt that they'll never escape. At least Medicare fraud is spread out through the general taxpaying population, for the most part.

      1. BerkeleyBear

        And defense contracts actually produce both jobs and weapons, occasionally. Even medical supply middle men scammers have to supply people with products (albeit at absurd markups).

      2. Biel_ze_Bubba

        " it also loads up the individual students with tens of thousands of dollars debt that they'll never escape."

        As if the parasites care about that. It's similar to the mentality behind the fake anti-HIV drugs that Chinese mobsters sell in Africa: "people die, but we make money, so who gives a fuck?" If there's any argument for the death penalty — as cruel and unusual as possible — it's those guys.

    3. tessiee

      “they just make you promise you won't do it again."

      Chief Wiggum: Alright, I’m gonna make a little deal with you mugs. I’m gonna let you all out to see my team play the hockey game, if you promise to return to your cells.
      Snake: Sorry, pig, we can’t make that promise.
      Chief Wiggum: Alright, alright, I’ll sweeten the deal. You can see the game, you don’t have to come back, but you have to promise not to commit any more crimes. Okay?
      Snake: No.
      Chief Wiggum: I’ll take that as a ‘Yes’.

  2. ManchuCandidate

    You won't get no education
    We don't need no government regulation
    No real knowledge in the classroom
    Scammers just eat up student loans
    Hey Wall St leave them folks alone
    All in all you just put the bucks in their till
    All in all you just put the bucks in their till

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Lemme guess — an online course? How large a P-ness do you have to earn on Wonkette to get the Ph.D.?

    2. PsycWench

      The key is to tout your enviable p-ness in the advertising, but hire cheap, lower p-ness adjunct faculty to teach most of the courses. You're welcome.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        An enlarge-your-p-ness bulk email campaign would be a really unique way to market this program.

      2. Chichikovovich

        Also essential to the bottom line is offering gargantuan, required intro courses with a thousand or more students to one professor, on "Elementary psychology of smartassery" and "Calculus for scientific snarking" (grade assigned based on multiple choice midterm test and final exam, graded by machine), so you can afford to offer graduate courses with one student enrolled and two auditors with titles like I Broke Des Verres, Desværre: Bad Bilingual Puns in Danish and French

    3. MissTaken

      Can I comment in my pajamas? Because everyone knows the bestest schools let you get your online degree in your jammies.

      1. BerkeleyBear

        Depends on what you mean. Some law schools are relatively cheap and actually focus on skills education, and others while ridiculously expensive are the gate keepers to many of the upper echelons of legal work. So each has value for the right student. But yeah, as a whole they should be downsized by a third or so and pretty heavily re-worked.

        MBAs are a huge waste from what I can tell, unless it is really an advanced finance program – and even then what you learn could be taught in a lot of other programs.

      2. Biel_ze_Bubba

        There was actually a recent lawsuit against a dozen or so law schools, who had basically lied about how well their graduates were doing. (Grads who ended up flipping burgers were classified as "got a job after graduation.") Some of these schools are so notoriously crappy that their grads can't even get interviews, let alone jobs!

        Now, you might think that misrepresenting the value of a $120,000 product would be a tad on the fraudulent side, but once the suit was in the hands of the (ex-lawyers commonly known as) judges, it went nowhere. Evidently, caveat emptor means you're supposed to conduct your own surveys to find out the truth.

    1. finallyhappy

      I'm hoping my son will get a valid not very expensive degree from a local(real) community college that actually trains and places people(sucessfully) in one of the fields these fake schools promise.

    2. GemlikeFlame

      And many of the smaller non-profit liberal arts schools are struggling to maintain the quality of the educational experience they provide in the face of decreased enrollment and federal support, and higher perceived ease of obtaining an online degree.

      By the best metrics I've seen, even the better of the online outfit can only come up with a 4% graduation rate, as opposed to a traditional school's 40ish%. Is that the right metric? Who knows, but it looks to me like a lot of money is finding its way into private hands from federal coffers.

      When somebody can show me how to effectively teach critical thinking through an online presentation format, I'll shut up. Until then, the big online universities are unashamedly handing out credentials for money. Let's call them what they are, diploma mills.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        A diploma mill with a 4% graduation rate – that's scary on several levels.

        Our high schools are churning out incredibly ill-prepared graduates. My daughter is working with other kids in her college bio lab, and she's shown me some really horrifying stuff. We're talking about writing that her eighth grade teacher would have sent back for a do-over, with "what are you trying to say here?" written in the margins. This is what's coming out of Long Island (white suburban) schools, not the Bronx (intended irony: my daughter went to Bronx Science.) Oh, and these are the pre-meds, our future doctors … and your motivation to stay healthy!

        1. PsycWench

          I happen to teach at a college that is known in several surveys as a "tough grader", but I can see what happens in general, especially when the college adopts the "business model" so beloved by Republicans: The students become consumers and the consumers are pissed off at having to do serious work. They don't mind a little work, but real development of writing, critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills? It's mean of the professors to demand that. The faculty may be tacitly (or not) pressured to ease up, and even in the absence of this, it's easy to be become dispirited and just give up…especially when that business model produces really large classes and you can't spend that much time making helpful commentary on the paper drafts. So the situation you describe in high schools does not necessarily improve that much with a college education.

          1. emmelemm

            My mom just retired from being a community college teacher, and that was exactly what she found: students are now considered to be consumers, and by God, they're paying for these credits, they expect to get a A. Period, full stop.

            She was really, really over it.

          2. PsycWench

            I am regularly thankful that my college has taken a stand against grade inflation, because that is exactly what happens when the school does not take that stand.
            I had the experience this year of being on the phone with a parent who called me several times because his child was just a little shy of enough credits to graduate. His position was that he had paid a lot of money for her to attend this college and the college needed to keep up their end of the deal. Sorry, Dad, it doesn't work like that. (His daughter was mortified and kept telling me how sorry she was that I had to deal with him).

          3. Boojum

            I have a client in law enforcement at a community college. He was fired because he wouldn't get theft charges dropped against a student (who stole from another student and ultimately confessed).

        2. viennawoods13

          I teach high school, and it is incredibly dispiriting to try to enforce standards. I have a reputation as a hard-marking bitch. Then they come home from university and thank me for teaching them how to write an essay.
          We teach with the constant potential for mom to phone up and tell us we're being too hard on little Jimmy or Jenny. I once had a hairdresser mother ask me if I actually knew how to teach essay writing. Hey, I don't tell her she doesn't know how to cut hair.

        3. GemlikeFlame

          It's plainly not a metric the for-profits care about. As long as there's an expanding selection of customers, it doesn't really matter if they complete any of the work or not, as long as the check clears.

          And because their customers are more or less anonymous, they don't have to deal with the inconvenient if momentary regret that they might have just trashed some borderline kid's will to learn.

    3. valthemus

      It all depends on who you are and what you need.

      There are people who went to college for whom it was an expensive waste of time.
      There are people who's college attendance was indispensable to their success.
      There are people who didn't go to college who enjoy satisfying, super-charged careers.
      There are people who didn't go to college who could have benefitted from the experience in very important ways.

      It's all about doing your best to make the right choice for yourself.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        "Do your best" at the University of Nocturnal Aviation (dot com), while taking on a 5-figure inescapable debt, and see if it does you any good.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Yep, Parker goes into that a bit; a lot of the accreditation agencies for the for-profit segment is bought and paid for like the bond-rating agencies–and even then, some schools have practices that are too sleazy for the rubber-stamp agencies to stomach.

    2. GemlikeFlame

      And regional accreditation, depending on the accrediting agency, can be a nontrivial thing to acquire and keep. Trivial or not, maintaining accreditation is expensive, the reporting that happens at five and ten year intervals is an ongoing daily process. My outfit devotes a senior vice president and a part-time software engineer/CS professor to the task, and even then it's borderline compared to what we think we ought to be doing. That's at least 1.5 teachers not in the classroom out of a teacher population of 35 or so. You do the math, but our students are paying for the accreditation overhead directly out of tuition and indirectly from the decreased number of teaching resources.

  3. UW8316154

    These scams have been around since at least the early 80's. I know two kids snookered by these for-profit schools and the abundant loans made easily available for financing the tuition. Lower middle-class kids, with not much beyond a skin-of-the-teeth high school diploma, thinking that they can suddenly hack course work and will enter the land of opportunity upon graduation. It's a hard sell, and an attractive, legitimate-looking destination for the 19-year old that has no skills, no education, nothing marketable and maybe a record.

    I advised both of them to go into the military – but do kids listen these days?? Seriously, either the military or bring back the traditional vo-tech from back in the day.

    1. BerkeleyBear

      The vocational tech is still out there. Some of it is for profit, too, but at least the programs are short enough that a huge debt is harder to build up (culinary school being the exception – 2 years of cookie cutter cooking courses cost 40 k or more). But you try convincing anyone they are better off learning HVAC repair or plumbing when they could sit in front of a computer making comments for credits.

      1. viennawoods13

        Holy crap. My son is paying 3500 a year for culinary arts at a public community college in Ontario.

        1. BerkeleyBear

          If you can find a good community college option, it is almost always a lot cheaper. When I briefly explored it, the only issue I could see was getting as much kitchen time/internships as a standalone school can provide.There are culinary schools with reps for higher skills demands/better placements (the CIA and California Culinary Academy, for 2) but all the little Arts Academy and Le Cordon Bleu knockoffs charge just as much without any comparable payoff.

  4. Chichikovovich

    I think I've heard of High-Fee-fee Dreck. But I obviously wasn't paying sufficiently careful attention to the commercials because I thought it was called I Be-Be Wrecked.

    No snark:
    But yes, I gather that High Fee-Fee Dreck is far from the worst of these. People could conceivably receive for their money something that would leave them genuinely better off afterwards, though with a poor degree of better off to dollar ratio.

    Off-hours TV in the Detroit Area is saturated with commercials from the worst of these fraudulent sharks: places that are clearly just factories geared at mixing two ingredients – hopeful poor young people desperate for marketable knowledge and federal loan guarantees – to produce bankrupt slightly less young people with hopes crushed and no more marketable knowledge than before.

    All the commercials make my blood boil but two of the worst make me especially angry. Both for the same place, both in the same style: engaging, high-spirited, charming-smiled, bright-eyed attractive-but-not-too attractive late 20s African American actors – in one case male in the other female, teasingly cajole young people like them to make the success-producing decision "they did" to sign up for a program at XXXX School of YYYYY.

    What bothers me most is that the people this targets are the people who have the most hope to crush – young men and women like those represented by the actors, with the energy and determination to work hard, to persevere, to make the sacrifices necessary to improve their lives. But neither the background nor the contacts to make it more than a lucky fall of the dominoes for them to find a real path to realize their dreams. And they take these people, bankrupt them, give them worthless pseudo-education in return, and leave them drained of the energy and hope that gave them a fighting chance.

    I hate the life-wreckers who run those places as much as I hate anyone in the world.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      Yep–these places are cashing in on the American Dream, even as they utterly pervert it. My first draft was much longer on angry and utterly devoid of funny (oh, man, am I setting myself up with THAT…)

      1. Chichikovovich

        You have my undying respect for your iron self-discipline. If I were to start an article like the one you just posted, I would still be typing three days later in the Hulk-smash caffeine-fueled frenzy of outrage that you managed to pull yourself back from.

      2. Iam_Who_Iam

        I don’t think you need to feel obligated to find the funny in this shit, leave that to our amazing Wonkettes. Some of Ken’s best posts were overflowing with rage and disgust, and weirdly enough this often produced some of the funniest and wittiest comment threads. It is as if near suicidal desperation brings out the finest funny among our commenting legions.

    2. BerkeleyBear

      I have a new most disgusting commercial in this line – little kids, talking about how their parents' just got their degrees and now they can do anything. Which has opened the kids' eyes to what they can do.

      GAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

    3. BlueStateLibel

      Hopefully, Satan has prepared a special circle in Hell for them where their diseased souls get to watch their own crappy commercials 24/7 for all of eternity.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        We do have them shitting on the peddlers of fake HIV drugs, but in general, yeah, it's one of our lower sublevels.

  5. SexySmurf

    But the commercials for these schools that air during Divorce Court make them look so professional.

    1. emmelemm

      And the jingles are so catchy! How could I not sign up? I mean, I already have a degree and a job, but they make it sound so fun!

  6. imissopus

    OT but I'm getting an ad on my screen for one of those "search for anyone's arrest record" sites, and next to the scary EVER BEEN ARRESTED? copy, the site is using James Holmes's mug shot, which seems like perhaps a bit much.

  7. coolhandnuke

    I received my Religious Degree for $20 from an ad in an old High Times. My specialty is apathy and posthumous romance.

    1. Dudleydidwrong

      I hope the degree was D.D. which stands for "Donated Dignity" no matter how it is acquired.

    1. tessiee

      Yeah, if they didn't figure that out before it became the school's official name, they probably don't have much to teach anyone.

        1. Biel_ze_Bubba

          It's always a thrill when the UTI Marching Bacilli take the field at halftime, in their colorful Gram-positive uniforms.

    1. smokefilledmeltdown

      Why can't we have both? Upon leaving a for-profit "college" jobless with ruined hopes and dreams, students can quickly resort to illegal activities to make ends meet, following the natural progression to a for-profit prison! A win-win!

          1. BerkeleyBear

            In the very first book, Arthur did vaguely resemble an aardvark, with a long snout. But I think Marc Brown got some edits that convinced him to take the whole family for a Hollywood makeover.

  8. GunToting[Redacted]

    My wife spent a couple of years working as a librarian at a for-profit school. It was fighting for accreditation constantly. She would get copies of Ph.D. dissertations that had been approved for publication which were riddled with spelling and grammar errors. It was not her job to do so, but in one instance she actually called a student (a sheriff deputy somewhere who was getting a doctorate in CrimJus) and told him that he really should go through his writing and edit all the errors (mainly wrong "to too two" and "there their they're." It was appalling how bad some of these documents were.

    1. PubOption

      I saw the other extreme, at a legitimate college in England. An external examiner rejected a Ph.D. thesis on the grounds that it was punctuated with at least one semicolon, and was therefore more like a Victorian novel than a piece of scientific writing. The replacement external examiner had no problems with it.

      1. Caelan Aegana

        I had a college professor who had that exact same tic. She HATED semicolons. She docked points based solely on semicolon count.

        I was doing the pre-med/bioengineering trac and took her "history of feminism" course because I thought it'd be relatively smooth sailing and that I'd learn something. That something turned out to be that people in authority get away with a lot of shit.

        I subsequently gave up on pre-med.

      1. HogeyeGrex

        At a college/trade school where I worked/taught, one of the teachers famously brought a stack of Taco Bell applications along with the final exams for his class and told the students "Here. You're going to need these."

        Fucking brilliant.

  9. MumbletyPesade

    What's insidious to me is the layers of this "online" trend that lure these vultures to capitalize on — not just appealing to the consumer's attraction to a wired, do-it-from-home solution, but banking also on the higher likelihood such remote purchase-and-partake dynamic will evade available inter-exchange among its far-flung enrollees, as might otherwise occur in a physical setting where you chat with classmates between courses. I might be off base here (b/c: lack of direct experience with eClass U, etc) but I wonder if multiple online users of a service, even with channels of communication available in other web-based venues, are less likely to figure out something amounting to a scam belies their host institution when they're relying on an insular means as this. I don't know how often "classmates" sharing a distance course interact personally but I bet the lack of such immediacy as found in brick & mortar equivalents gave incentive to the subprime for-profits to push their limits as far as they have.

    1. BerkeleyBear

      I have taught in the devil's gulag that is Kaplan (which at least has criteria committees and makes efforts at standards, albeit consistently the wrong emphasis in my opinion), and I can say that a surprising amount of chatter/talk among students occurs. They are at least as involved in each others' lives as some folks here (they know about life events, they chat about personal problems, etc.). But expecting them to exchange notes and figure out they are being ripped off in any sense (which again, I felt like the people who tried were getting something for their money, just maybe not what they were sold) is assuming a standard for comparison they generally lacked. These aren't people who have a lot of experience with higher education – or at least good higher education (because there's a lot of crappy community colleges and even 4 year, non-profit schools too).

  10. kittensdontlie

    Capitalism is the only system able to transmute the alchemist's gold(education) back into lead.

  11. chascates

    I've only gone to low-priced public institutions and am in debt only for a community college loan and I can't even pay that. A for-profit school with high tuition would screw the government and me. I wished I could make a better comment here but then I dropped out of school.

    1. kittensdontlie

      Your comment is comment enough(Me too. I mispelled 'comment' three times in a row while making this comment.).

  12. Joshua Norton

    Here's a little something that helped me get thru life:

    Avoid any school that's advertised on a matchbook cover. Or has "and Storm Door Company" as part of its name.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        It worked for Kinkade and McNaughton.

        The downside is that you'd have to market your tripe to conservatards, and put up with the parodies. (If I had that kind of "talent", I'd take their money and quiety put it to good liberal use.)

      2. tessiee

        "so I shouldn't plan on Learn to be an artist as my retirement career?"

        Not after the way YOU drew Mr. Squirrel!
        [although personally, I *did* get a chuckle out of the oversized genitalia]

    1. tessiee

      Colleges that have "Clown" or "Beauty" in the name tend not to number very many of their alumni among the 1%.

  13. Self-Uploader

    I truly hate this scam.

    I've worked at community colleges and have seen the way they actually did change people's lives, usually at minimal cost, how they supported students with tutoring, internships, etc and made sure they graduated with the skills they needed to actually get employed.

    Publicly supported community colleges are yet another example of "government" programs that work much better than privatization, and everyone benefits when America has trained employable people who can afford to buy stuff instead of "renting" it.

    The short-sightedness and downright cruelty of people like Romney who see stealing from the poor to give to investors as a good thing even though the long term consequence is to develop an ever larger class of permanent have-nots is staggering.

    Sorry, I forgot to snark.

    1. BarackMyWorld

      Word.

      I went to a Community College, paying my way simply by working part time, before getting a scholarship for my last 2 years toward my B.S. at a state college. I had to take out a loan for my M.A., though, but even that ended up being less than a full year at a lot of schools thanks to government support for the state university I was enrolled at.

    2. Doktor Zoom

      Abso-freakin' lutely. The only thing for-profit schools do better is siphon public funds into investors' accounts.

      Which is why they're doing so well. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

      1. HogeyeGrex

        Which ties in to the wingnuts' fervent desire to privatize k-12 education. Hell, why only start ripping them off in college?

    3. tessiee

      "The short-sightedness and downright cruelty of people like Romney who see stealing from the poor to give to investors as a good thing even though especially because the long term consequence is to develop an ever larger class of permanent have-nots"

      fixed

    4. PsycWench

      I was able to go through college and a Ph.D. program without taking out a loan at all, thanks partly to my dad but also to the phenomenal amount of subsidization that North Carolina provided to higher education, at least through the mid-90's. When I graduated from UNC, tuition was roughly $3000 per year for in-state students. Without that subsidization, I would still be paying that loan and deferring purchases of car/home/investments, or I would be a bank teller. Sadly, my UNC education is currently benefitting the state of Virginia.

  14. TribecaMike

    Speaking of rip-offs, when you've got 30 minutes to spare check out Bill Moyers' interview with the director of the new documentary "You’ve Been Trumped" about the Pontiff of Pomposity and his cheesy Scottish golf resort. As filmmaker Anthony Baxter says, "There's one rule for the super-rich and one rule for everybody else."

    SPOILER ALERT: Impossible as it may seem, while watching you'll despise Trump even more than you do now.
    http://billmoyers.com/segment/anthony-baxter-on-d

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Some definite WTF??!! moments in that story. And yes, Trump is an even bigger prick than you imagined.

  15. BZ1

    A 40% failure rate for traditional colleges, 80% failure rate at these college mills? No wonder the post-secondary education system is in trouble.

  16. BaldarTFlagass

    My higher education at Large Throbbing State University, which I received while living in the communist socialist society that was Reagan's America, was practically free. What the hell happened?

    1. BerkeleyBear

      Reagan's vision for California went national. States just don't fund public education like they should, and the "flagship" campuses get away with charging almost what private schools do, so even a degree at Western Eastern Sammich State costs tens of thousands of dollars with loans being the only available aid. That makes the for profit schools, which are so much easier to get into and sound so convenient, much more attractive than they should be. Especially for people who have to work for a living and don't live near any major cities or campuses.

      1. Callyson

        One of them advertises on a bus stop shelter in front of Los Angeles City College with the tagline "Classes open! Enrolling now!" Thus cashing in on the fact that budget cuts have forced CC's to offer fewer and fewer classes…

        Assholes.

      2. HogeyeGrex

        This, of course, leads to the Hallowed Job Creators whining about how they can't find anybody with anything resembling marketable skills for them to hire for some absurd pittance.

        But Gummint eebil and don't never raise my taxes.

    2. tessiee

      "What the hell happened?"

      Somewhere along the line, some smart and ruthless son of a bitch figured out that hopeful youth and their parents were an untapped resource to be exploited, and did so?

      1. BaldarTFlagass

        Sounds like a reasonable explanation to me. Thank goodness for truth, justice, and the American Way!

  17. BerkeleyBear

    The for profit system seems to have several distinct layers. I've worked with Kaplan, who seems to fall into the mainly online, volume driven system, where some students do get something out of it but almost no one gets the dream they were sold. I also was a finalist for a law school that sure seemed to have good facilities and faculty, a good record of passing the bar and pretty much everything else a quality school should have, and was no worse than a number of non-profits I had dealt with. Still I got the feeling the emphasis was on the wrong metrics and a lot of the faculty were even more jaded than public school undergraduate teachers.

    You can find examples of similar schools in the non-profit world, too (I have taught at a public law school and a public undergrad and I could draw a lot of parallels) but the difference seems to be that there are a lot of scummy bottom feeders on the profit side that wouldn't exist if the standards for getting Federal financial aid weren't so low, and no great institutions on the upper side like you get in non-profit education.

  18. mavenmaven

    Koreans don't fall for these tricks. All their kids go to Ivy League schools (which is a scam of a different sort) and they have communal loan systems called kye to help one another.

    1. tessiee

      *staring bug-eyed and speaking in a flat monotone*
      No. I. Would. Not. I. Love. My. Headcrab.

  19. dennis1943

    This wordy article has elicited wordy replies………….i have just three words…….bullshit,bullshit,bullshit……..

  20. Monsieur_Grumpe

    I've played the professional college student in several states over a good portion of my life. Hell, I still got a brain, maybe I'll finish that music degree. Without a doubt the engineering degree was the most challenging. I did a brief stint teaching at a for profit institute and was really shocked by the cost. The community colleges offer the best educational value by far at least the ones I have attended. The quality of instructors at community colleges is often better with much better access. There is something extra sleazy about ripping off the poors by selling them an overpriced questionable ticket out of poverty.

    1. HogeyeGrex

      an overpriced questionable ticket out of poverty.

      Didn't they used to call that "running numbers?"

  21. Callyson

    Want more rage? Follow up in the Voice article about that 14 year old…

    Last fall, Bobby was finally able to enroll at a real university, Eastern Michigan, where he was named a national collegiate scholar. Yet he still owes Ashford. Because that's a private debt, he isn't eligible for deferments while he's in school, and any future wages could be garnished.

    How the fuck does this even happen?

    Then again, the above question is what I asked myself after the 2010 elections…

    Christ.

  22. So Tired

    I live in an urban area and one of the local radio stations that is targeted to young, "ethnic" people has a commercial that screams, "CALL TODAY TO SEE IF YOU QUALIFY FOR FREE MONEY!!! for college." The "for college" is almost whispered. They say you can qualify for FREE MONEY for your computers, books, rent, any expenses, it's FREE, CALL TODAY!" It all sounds so good! Makes me almost want to get my free money and I'm about ready to retire.

  23. Callyson

    During the Republican primary, Mitt Romney praised a major donor and co-chairman of his Florida fundraising team—Bill Heavener, owner of Full Sail University—for helping to "hold down the cost of education." What Romney failed to mention is that a 21-month degree in video-game art at Full Sail costs more than $80,000.

    PLEASE, God, make one of the moderators bring this up during the debates, pretty fucking PLEASE?

    1. HogeyeGrex

      Full Sail is fucking ridiculous.

      I used to round-file applications that mentioned them.

      Heavener was also apparently known for screwing over employees and partners as well as students.

      Not really a big surprise that he's up there in the Romney machine.

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        Well, you're talking Romney, Republicans, Florida, and fundraising … that does call for a shameless sleazeball of olympian proportions.

      2. Self-Uploader

        Still, Romney has a habit of making ass-kissing pandering statements to people like Heavener with an almost childlike belief that no one else will ever find out. All of that shit needs to be brought up again, and again and again.

  24. rocktonsam

    and the private schools in Wisconsin, liberal arts schools too also claim they're non for profit.. I call bullshit

  25. Beowoof

    For most of my adult life I have either attended or worked for a community college. I truly believe in the mission of the community college and have seen first hand how the education changes lives. I have also helped folks pick up the pieces of the private education mills. Folks who attended in good faith and received little education and big loan payments for their trust. I truly find these people despicable in how they steal hope from those whose hopes.

  26. imissopus

    Ironically, now I'm getting banner ads for Everest, which is part of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges, which I read recently is being investigated by the CFPB for just the kind of shit Dok Zoom is talking about here. Circle of life, hakuna matata, and so forth.

    1. not that Dewey

      I've linked this before, but I think it bears repeating. Olympia Snowe is leaving Congress because she and her husband were embroiled in a for-profit university public money-siphoning scandal. This is (among the reasons) why the Republicans did not want the CFPB to go forward.
      http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/profit-col

  27. StealthMuslin

    If only there were people who could pass rules against this sort of thing and a way for poor people to put such "rule-passers" in power…. But what would we call such a system?
    Oh, fuck my crazy dreams. Time to get the kids off to the mill.

  28. DahBoner

    Education-EDU

    Erectile Dyamite Uranium?

    Yeah, I caught them the other niight at the quad…

  29. tessiee

    'Cue Jeff Goldblum"

    I'm sorry, that is impossible at the moment.
    He's busy elsewhere.
    *yum yum yum*

  30. tessiee

    The Boy Who Would Not Do Anything went to ITT Tech for a year. He once brought one of his classmates over to visit/do homework, and was trying to explain some math problem to him. I wish I were making this up, but he ended up showing him how to do basic multiplication table stuff using *pebbles out of the driveway*! I'm not trying to be unkind to the poor kid, but that's fourth grade math. He had no damn business being in any college, and would not have been able to function in any job, no matter what it said on his "degree". They should have been ashamed of themselves for taking his money.

  31. glasspusher

    That's funny, I didn't get PTSD until after I took physical chemistry. Helmholz function down! Mayday! Mayday!

        1. RadioBowels

          I actually found the experience existential…and my prof was the one who nominated me for Phi Beta Kappa.

          1. glasspusher

            At Rutgers, thermodynamics is where they try to weed out the chem and chem E majors. It was one long slow mind fuck. None of us knew if we passed or failed until the final grades were posted. My prof was a pain- I became friends with the girl sitting next to me because she would raise her hand and he'd ignore her until I shouted so the whole lecture hall could hear me “She has a question!”. The prof running the other section was described as like our's, but without the sense of humor(our's didn't have one). *shudder*Second semester PChem, quantum chem, was a lot of fun. Thermo in grad school was also fun.

    1. valthemus

      I would kill for the chance to go back to school and study physical chemistry. And maybe field theory.

      Seriously. Kill. Or maybe just bribe. No, definitely bribe, maybe selective maiming.

      1. glasspusher

        PChem in grad school was a lot more fun. At Rutgers it was used to weed out the weak, not really to teach so much.Field theory sounds cool. I took a year of astrophysics as well, loved it.

  32. fuflans

    i have been over at 'the economist' all weekend fighting the good fight about some bullshit article they posted about romney's eurodisaster not mattering (when in mourning – for my cat and not my life – i choose to lash out).

    it is good to be home.

    1. BerkeleyBear

      Bill Bennett tried to claim with a straight face that the trip showed his "independence." I was about to get pissed, then remembered the source.

  33. National_Turkey

    In a particularly insidious loophole, the bailout for this subprime bubble is built into the loans! Not only does Uncle Sugar/you the taxpayer pay the lending bank it's money upfront if a student defaults, but the bank is also free to pursue the student for repayment UNTIL THEY DIE. Student loans don't go away in bankruptcy, your Social Security checks can be garnished, and when you die, those who survive you are on the hook. And your bachelor's degree that you maybe earned? And used to gain employment? In the retail sector in an entry level job? Turns out that's not worth all that much in today's economy. The traditional keys to unlock that unlimited opportunity that we call the American Dream just don't seem to fit the lock anymore. Give Jesse Myerson's piece a listen over at wearecitizenradio.com. http://wearecitizenradio.com/2012/08/03/20120803-

    1. National_Turkey

      And also check out Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Christopher Hayes. We. are. so. screwed. Also, WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

  34. tessiee

    Is anyone else curious about what major they recommend for those who check the "Age 75 and over" box?

  35. tessiee

    Does everybody else hate the commercial for some fake-ass school or other, where the guy says, "You're sitting on the couch, and life is passing you by"?

    It's even more annoying when I'm sitting on the couch filling out job applications.

  36. johnnyzhivago

    Prediction time: how will the right wing belittle Obama over the Mars Curiosity landing triumph?

    Was George Bush's idea?
    Robotic rover is related to Romney???
    Waste of tax dollars, constitution says nothing about Mars?

    1. Negropolis

      They'll probably say some shit like "He was born on Mars, so he's just trying to get back home." or something.

    2. valthemus

      The standard line is something about why are we wasting money on science that isn't curing cancer, especially when the Bible has all the answers we need. (I will, I will, I will stop reading the comments to the washingtonpost.com articles… they just sap me of my will to live.)

      1. Negropolis

        And when the shuttle program was discontinued, it was all about how Obama was killing NASA and ceding space exploration to the Russians.

  37. C_R_Eature

    "The percentage you're paying is too high priced
    While you're living beyond all your means
    And the man in the suit has just bought a new car
    From the profit he's made on your dreams"

    That is all.

    1. mlle_derp

      Wow- it's been a long time (like 30 years or so) since I heard that song- had to track down a youtube to remind myself of what it sounded like… Thanks!

  38. mlle_derp

    OT- Sounds like the Wisc shooter was a 40-ish skinhead with a 9/11 tattoo. And only shot at the men wearing turbans. So, yes, probably couldn't tell the diff between Muslims & Sikhs.

    Why can't people just try to fucking get along?

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Because in the Untied States of Amercia, it's easier to just get a gun (no matter how batshit crazy you are) and go shoot people.

      And thanks to Scalia and his fellow Bush-appointed cretins, nothing (outside of an NRA bloodbath or three) will change it.

    2. mavenmaven

      Notice how the rednecks aren't clamoring to say, "if only those turban heads were armed"…

      1. Negropolis

        I know it happened on a Sunday and the local police department was unusually careful in keeping information from leaking early, but the whole story has been quiet even by Sunday standards.

  39. Biel_ze_Bubba

    Just in case your blood was merely at a simmer — you'll never guess which famous money-grubbing vampire squid is busily helping suck the lifeblood out of the victims.

    (Hint: It's not the Italian mafia — it's the other one.)

  40. imissopus

    Man, is it fun watching all these scientists over at the JPL jump up and down and pump their fists like they are in the mosh pit at a Pantera concert. Go pop some champagne, ya giant nerds. You've earned it.

      1. imissopus

        Would have been so great if Rodney Dangerfield had popped up in the control room while they were all celebrating and yelled "Hey everybody! We're all gonna get laid!"

      2. ChernobylSoup

        9 months from tonight a new subspecies of super intelligent humans will enter the world.

        1. C_R_Eature

          They're going to turn out to be Spiders, spending all their time jamming good with weird and gilly.

    1. Negropolis

      Excuse my ignorance, but haven't we done this before with Spirit and Opportunity? I guess landing anything on another planet is always exciting to some degree, but this feels like deja vu all over again, as they say.

      That said, congrats to NASA for showing that they've still got it, and the only one's to have it.

      1. not that Dewey

        "There is nothing routine about flying to Mars. I can vouch for that."

        -Alter Jim Lovell

      2. HistoriCat

        I think this was a more complex landing technique and the machinery a hell of a lot bigger/heavier.

        1. Negropolis

          Not so much a cynic, and more than I'm not much of a space nerd. We've been landing shit on other shit sense well before I was even a thought. I guess us kids just kind of take it for granted unless we're going to land a living, breathing person on something, again.

    1. ChernobylSoup

      Adam Steltzner, JPL: "That great things take many people working together is one of the greatest aspects of human existence."

      Proof of rampant communism at NASA. Shut her down.

    1. valthemus

      Overpaid CEOs did not do the programming.
      Hedge fund managers did not formulate the composite materials.
      Real estate developers did not calculate the trajectory.
      Bank executives did not figure out how much fuel was needed to launch it.

      You'd think the LEAST those tax-dodging shit bags could do was help PAY for it!

      1. Monsieur_Grumpe

        *No profit*
        *No interest*

        I suppose if they could have put up a billboard on Mars…

    1. sudsmckenzie

      I loved it when they said "the first thumbnail is in", I flashed back to my dial up Pron days.

  41. Calapine

    There is a "get your degree in Interactive Journalism, Public Communication, Producing for Film & Video and Media Entrepreneurship. Apply by Aug 1 for merit consideration & application fee waiver" add on this page.

    Coincidence or is Wonkette biting the hand that feeds them?!

    Also, I am kind of new here, so Hello Everyone! *waves at screen*

    1. FlownOver

      Welcome, and please ignore the ads – except the ones with scantily-dressed models of whatever gender(s) might suit your persuasion. Not uncommon to see a NewsMax "poll" here asking whether Obama should be (a) shot, (b) gang-raped or (c) shot, then gang-raped.

      1. Calapine

        What's the other one doing right now?

        Btw, are you guys aware how insane your Tea Party and Wingnuts seem to the outside world? To be honest I am neither American and nor politically interested, but coming here to watch the crazies is always worth it. *crossing fingers for VP candidate Bachmann* Or Gohmert, he is fun too, please elect him! (Thanks)

        1. Blueb4sinrise

          Well, we are the entertainment capital of the world.
          I don't travel internationally, but know people who do. During the Bush years, they would report that the humor was always tinged with fear of worse things to come. Which wasn't so different from the thinking here. I'm guessing that there's less global fear now. However, we'll try to keep the crazies in the Congress, or unemployed, thank you very much.

  42. twoeightnine

    I drive across the country for a living and it's amazing how many cities, especially those in the south, put signs up on the highway telling you where to exit for these blackholes like they're a real university and have a real campus. Phoenix is actually the worst. The city and the university.

  43. Sacanagem

    My sister graduated from Ashford, and she was one of the lucky ones, i.e., her schooling was 100% paid for by a state educational grant, so no loans. She has her BA in education, and can move forward in her career running a preschool.

    The graduation was…odd. Student population was, I'd guess, about 75% African-American & Latino. Endless praise for the school's ability to provide educational opportunities for working, working-class students. Keynote speaker was a noted "rap/word artist" who tossed out random word salad for 15 minutes to a cheering crowd. Was I the only person in the crowd to figure out he had an epic case of the coke sniffles? Not sure.

    Am I going to show my sister this Voice article on Ashford? Hell, no.

  44. Baba_NinjaCat12

    Go to a Public University, you can become a planetary scientist and be in charge of Curiosity Mars Mission. Or, go to a private, for-profit university or college and you will become a debt servitude Janitor.

  45. ttommyunger

    Got my BA at a small private school 'cause my dad got his there in '41. Worked up to three jobs at the same time, paid every fucking penny they asked for and the motherfuckers still hound me for money several times a year by mail, email and phone like I fucking owe THEM something. I am disgusted.

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Well, I did pretty much the same at a large private school (except that dad was grimy-blue-collar), and spent a decade paying off the loans, but I figure I got more than my money's worth. So no problem sending in my annual check, designated for the need-based scholarships that helped me get through.
      As with anything, though, ymmv: some of my classmates didn't like the place, and refuse to give a dime.

Comments are closed.