roasting marshmellows in phd hell

The Dirty Secret of For-Profit College Recruitment

with 8 comments

What is it, you may ask?  The dirty secret of these for-profit colleges and how they

Coffee’s for closers. And don’t forget to show them the swimming pool.

recruit fresh meat?

The golden rule is to get them in the door.  And that’s as far as anyone in administration pays attention.  Because after the check clears, nobody. gives. a. fuck.

I want to share some information about these for-profit corporations.  I do need to disclose, though, that this ain’t straight from the horse’s mouth.  I have several very close friends who work at this place, and I used to work at one just like it.  So this is more of a postcard from some loved ones currently employed in corporate hell.  And they have kindly consented to let me share their story here.  As long as you are cool with that, let’s proceed.

This school is but one puny branch of a ginormous corporation.  It’s the kind of place you might see advertised during daytime talk shows, in between other less sleazy commercials for avvocatos with guys inexplicably wearing cowboy hats and business suits, urging you to fall off a ladder and call their toll-free number.  And, not surprisingly, the school has a department devoted to recruiting.

The recruiters have sleek offices with big mahogany tables and ergonomic chairs that they use to impress prospective students.  Sometimes the people walk in themselves, maybe after watching Jerry Springer or reading a bus stop bench.  But the recruiters have quotas to make, around 12 students a month, so sometimes they have to get creative.

On occasion, they go to the local train station (not the nicest area- you can buy a variety of drugs and sexual favors there) with a big van and try to pick up random people.  You can imagine what kind of fucking shit they tell people to get into their creepy van.  And when someone takes their candy, on the way to Mahogany Desk City, the recruiters point out local landmarks like the town pool and say that they are part of the campus.

On one occasion, they brought a man from the train station who was so poor that he had plastic bags duct taped to his feet instead of shoes.

I don’t have the words to express how wrong and fucking predatory I think this is.

How much does this make you want to weep for society?

The school also has another department you might not normally hear about..this one is for ‘student retention.’  So these people are employed to call students when they don’t show up or don’t do the work or fail, maybe because they were picked up at a fucking train station and sold a pack of lies from a recruiter, and too disenfranchised or naive to question these things.  And then the conversation goes like:

Student Retention Person: So (insert name here), why did you fail the midterm/never show up?  Would you like to come in and make an appointment so we can make a Student Success Plan (TM) and get you back on track?

Student: I can’t focus on school right now because of (insert horrible sob story here)


Student: Fuck you. (click)

What a fucking awful joke.  The students this place attracts (or hunts, depending on your point of view) fall into (mostly) two categories.  One, people who have some serious fucking shit going on in their lives- sick family members, job loss, foreclosures, medical bankruptcy, immigration issues.  People that are probably not going to be best served by taking out enormous loans that they probably won’t be able to pay off.  (Now I am certainly not saying that only those who can afford redonk fees should go to college, or that people with big big fucking problems can’t take on college- but this place and those like it prey on the disenfranchised, and the numbers show that most of the students at these predatory colleges with no real support networks for students drop out anyways)  And then there’s type two- people who don’t really want to go to college in the first place.  So Why Do They Go?  The answer is, they don’t.  They get talked into signing up by Alec Baldwin and then, as far as the school is concerned, it’s milk carton city.

Do they even put missing kids on milk cartons anymore?




Written by universityoflies

September 4, 2012 at 02:50

8 Responses

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  1. In those moments of late when I’ve been facing long-term unemployment (temporarily staved off by yet another contingent position), I’ve seen ads for recruitment positions at these places and thought “well, it may not be as bad as I think.” Your post here pretty much confirms that it IS as bad as I think, which makes me think that my conscience is doing its job quite nicely.

    Josh M

    September 4, 2012 at 19:09

  2. Yes Josh, it looks like your inner Jiminy Cricket is functioning quite well! My friends at this place are not fucking thrilled to be there at all, but the rent needs to be paid… good luck with your job search- I hope something good turns up for you soon.


    September 4, 2012 at 21:27

  3. Oh man, I knew that for-profits were evil, but this is even more evil than I had imagined. I’m not sure I have anything else to add to that – what you’ve described is just really, really, horrible, and more people need to be aware of these abuses.

    On a lighter note, a few months ago I was walking through a local mall, and one of those for-profits had a stall set up. There was a young woman trying to sell the school to people walking by. As I passed her, she called out, “Hi, are you interested in extending your education?” HA. Am I interested in extending my education. No thank you, I’ve had quite enough.


    September 5, 2012 at 01:51

  4. I’m very close to someone who works at a for-profit. What you’re saying isn’t untrue, but it’s not true in all cases or across the board. Yes, in the past (especially before the gov’t investigation of for-profits), extremely uncool recruitment practices were used. My friend works on the retention side of things, and they work very hard to keep students in school and graduate, both because it’s what the students want (those who stick around, anyway) and because if they don’t, their corporate overlords will verbally flog them and create an extremely unpleasant work environment if they don’t reach their “budget” for drops.

    That said, the school this person works for has made a lot of changes in recent years as a result of the gov’t investigation that makes them a lot more like a typical school. They do not recruit homeless people or the mentally disabled (yes, this did happen in the past). They don’t keep students in perpetuity if their grades continually suck. Really, they’re becoming (slowly) a career college, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that or that model. This person does believe that their for-profit school fills a niche that the 4 year schools and even the comm college does not for this community. FWIW.

    Mama Nervosa (@MamaNervosa)

    September 6, 2012 at 11:22

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I didn’t mean to imply that all for-profit schools are like this (though I guess my headline is kind of vague on that front), I’m sure there are good ones out there, but the one I work at and the one my friends work at (that one run by a large corporation) are pretty despicable.

      I don’t have a problem with the idea of for-profit colleges, I just am not a fan of the instances where the recruiting practices are sneaky and manipulative, or where ALL of the profit lines the pockets of the board/president and what the students get is sub par and shitty.

      The government regulations are a very good thing, and I think that eventually, they will cause a lot of the more predatory places to close.


      September 7, 2012 at 19:35

      • Yep, the schools who are dependent on exploitation will simply not be able to afford to remain open. I think for-profit college will shrink… but it it won’t go away.

        Mama Nervosa (@MamaNervosa)

        September 9, 2012 at 12:52

  5. I wanted to extend my thoughts, having read some other entries of yours: in this person’s experience, there is a lot of variation from school to school (e.g. Argosy vs Phoenix, to name a random few) and even within a single school there is a lot of variation campus to campus. I do agree, though, that the teaching quality is absolute shit! I looked at this person’s composition curriculum and was appalled. It contradicted everything I know about good comp instruction, especially for the at-risk population that this school largely serves.

    This person would love to work somewhere else. A different school. A different job. But work in our area is tight and this person is (surprise!) a post-academic in an area where graduate degrees are a dime a dozen. This person is not sure if there is a job out there that would pay similarly and for which he/she would be competitive. And there lies the rub…

    Mama Nervosa (@MamaNervosa)

    September 6, 2012 at 11:32

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