Beware of Career Colleges

1. Beware of Career Colleges

If you are considering a career college. you need to read this article. It focuses on one career college, but the sins outlined are prevalent at many career colleges.

This article will help you to avoid colleges that rip you off.

I have seen students get ripped off for $20,000 to $30,000, earn credits that transfer nowhere and I have seen administrators in these colleges lie to accreditation committees.

In short, many career colleges are little more than businessmen financing educational empires off of student loans.

2. Credits Do Not Transfer

The most important question is “Do your credits transfer?”

Many career colleges, although they advertise heavily, gives you credits that do not transfer to any reputable college.

Let’s take a close look at one career college, the Minnesota School of Business, which represents sins that exist at numerous other “for-profit” institutions.

First, a true scenario. And it happens time after time and not a damn thing is being done about it. A student attends the Minnesota School of Business (or other career college) receives an AA in Business Administration , and finances it with $20,000 to $30,000 in loans. Then the student discovers that he cannot transfer anywhere.

“I applied to the University of Minnesota,” says Ryan Ihrke, a recent graduate of MSB, “and they told me my degree was worthless. Not one credit transferred.

“So, I am in debt and am beginning all over at the University of Minnesota.”

“I gave up applying to colleges, no one would accept my transcripts,” says Jocelyn Schell, another former student. ” My mother is so mad that when a MSB commercial comes on television, she yells at the television.”

Another student fumes, “Credits don’t transfer at all. I talked to one girl who was promised a computer lab that was critical to her graduating. They never got it, never got it.

“So she quit. She tried to transfer her credits to Hennepin Tech where they had the lab she needed and she was told that none of her credits would transfer. She had to decide to go deeper in debt at MSB or start over and go into debt at a real school where credits transferred.”

“I was told that colleges would accept my AA degree, ” another student says. “But colleges accept an Associate of Arts degree, not an Associates of Science Degree. The admissions rep just say AA degree, AA degree and never tell you the difference.”

“I was a kid just out of high school”, says Ihrke, ” and my parents never went to college. Minnesota School of Business sold us a bill of goods and we thought a college was a college. We had no idea that college credits would not transfer.”

“Maybe what they do is legal, but it sure isn’t ethical”, says Ihrke.

3. Check with other colleges

Before you sign with a career college, check with other colleges. They will tell you the truth about the career college you are applying to.

For instance, I checked on MSB by asking questions to the University of Minnesota and local community colleges.

“We have never told anyone that we accept credits from the Minnesota School of Business, says Paula Brugge, associate director of admissions at the university. ” “Students at MSB are taking courses that are not applicable to a degree at any University of Minnesota campus.”

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And it appears that the University of Minnesota is not alone in enforcing this policy.

I wanted to stay in the Twin Cities, ” says another student, ” I had no choice, I work 40 hours a week at Wal-Mart and I called the U of M, Corncordia, Hamlin and Augsburg. Not one college accepted my credits.”

4. Admissions Officers Lie to Get Your Business

Likely Page BreakAs one student succinctly put it, ” My admission officer lied to me worse than my Navy Recruiter”.

But do MSB and other career college recruiters lie? Do they intentionally sell students two years of a business administration degree that leads nowhere?

They do lie. I sent a recent high school graduate to the MSB admission office who bravely listened to two hours of the song and dance they give perspective students. Then my undercover student asked the key question.

He said ” I want to go to Normandale Community College or the University of Minnesota later. Will my credits transfer? ”

The answer he received was confusing at best. Instead of a straight- forward honest NO – he heard, ” They don’t all transfer at once, but then they transfer in bunches.”

After the student reported back to me, I called the Admission officer back and directly asked , ” Do the credits transfer to Normandale or the U of M.”

The answer was “Absolutely’.

This had to be a mistake. I asked again.

Again the answer was, “Absolutely, with no problem.”

Gee, great – where can I sign up and give you $25,000 for lying to me?

This small breach in MSB’s ethics and other career colleges collectively costs students millions of dollars.. And the stories continue to be heart breaking.

5. You May Not Get A Job

A single mother told me, “I wanted to get out of poverty, wanted to be something, someone. I fell for their TV commercial and two years later I have an AA degree in Business Administration, with credits that won’t transfer anywhere.

“The worse part, they drove me deeper into poverty. I now owe $30,000 in student loans and am applying for jobs at Walmart and Walgreens, jobs I could have gotten without the degree.

However, student after student spins the same story. They took a career development class at the end of their stint at MSB. And, after paying $1,000 for the class, they were advised to cold-call WalMart and other retail stores.

As one student put it, ” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out I could have applied for these jobs without spending $23,000 at MSB.”

Another key point. Career colleges know they are recruiting young students who want hip programs. So they offer ‘hip” programs that, in truth, lead nowhere.

When I taught at a career college, I felt sorry for the Music Business majors I had in class. I should have stepped forward and said – Hey, This is Minneapolis. You want to be in music, move to Nashville, Los Angeles, New York.

I was right.. A former music business major at MSB said to me the other day, ” Not one, not one person, I graduated with, even got a job in music.”

6. You Will be Driven Into Debt

What is the average debt a student had after two years of attending the school? ”

It wasn’t hard to figure out. I interviewed over 20 students, all whose transcripts had been rejected by college after college. And each student was $20,000 to $25,000 in debt. And every one of them had to start all over at a new college.

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As one student put it, “Credits are $350 apiece at MSB. The same credit is $65 at Normandale or MCTD. And the $65 credit transfers. I figured it would cost me an additional $60,000 if I wanted to finish my Bachelors at MSB.

“This sucks, I wish I had never started at MSB.”

But student debt is good for the owner of the Minnesota School of Business, Terry Myhre. He realized early that he could finance an educational empire off the back of students. They took out the loans, they had to pay them back and this gave him a source of interest-free loans.

Likely Page BreakSo with the help of student contributions, i.e. student loans that he was not responsible for paying back, Myhre built an educational empire including MSB, Globe College, Duluth Business University, Minnesota School of Technology, Utah Career College and several other educational institutions.

And while students struggle with credits that do not transfer and paying off 20 -30,000 in loans, according to the magazine Minnesota Business , Myhre’s empire is geared to rake in $140 million by 2009.

7. Where the Truth is Buried

But if you look long enough, you can find the truth. It is buried on the MSB and other career college websites.

A prospective student must go to the MSB homepage, click on About Us, click on Accreditation and then have the sense to click on Licenses, something few students would have the time or patience for.

Click on licenses, you find this terse paragraph, vaguely worded about credits transferring anywhere.

Minnesota School of Business and Globe College are licensed as private career schools with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Licensure is not an endorsement of the institution. Credits earned at the institution may not transfer to all other institutions. The educational programs may not meet the needs of every student or employer.

May not transfer? May not meet the needs of an employer?

8. Do Not Sign Anything

MSB and other career colleges know this all too well and they are used to treading on shaky legal ground. In fact many students, unwittingly, signed arbitration agreements with MSB and other career colleges when initially registering as students.
It doesn’t quite match a warm handshake and a hearty “welcome to college” as a greeting, but from the first day that a student signs up, MSB puts in legal roadblocks to protect itself, when upset students threaten lawsuits.

9. Why They Trap You

However in a perverted way, it is good for MSB and other career colleges that courses do not transfer. In fact, it is an example of marketing brilliance.

You invest two years and $25,000 in courses that transfer nowhere. You want a Bachelor’s Degree. You guessed it, you can stay at MSB, go further in debt and earn a Bachelor’s Degree there.

It is the old “keep the suckers coming back” version of marketing.

Now, let’s say you earn your Bachelor’s Degree at MSB. And you want an MBA. Except your courses do not transfer and you cannot enter any MBA program. But if you turn in a circle three times and click your heels together, magical things happen. That’s right, although no other university will accept your credits, you can earn an MBA degree online from MSB.

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Students, not as well versed in marketing as the experts at MSB , slowly get ripped off.

10. Unaccredited Faculty

Brugge, with the University of Minnesota, pinpointed another reason why MSB credits don’t transfer. MSB courses are being taught by unaccredited faculty

I was one of those faculty

I should have suspected that something was amiss, when Minnesota School of Business hired me to teach math, but I have no college math credits and I last took a math class in high school over 30 years ago. And, barely passed it.

Yet, there I was, teaching class after class of Fundamental Math, at not one campus, but several.

It got worse. I taught Interpersonal Relations . This was frightening as I only took one psychology course in college and earned a D in it.

And then , all of a sudden, I was teaching Business! I was multi-talented. Quarter after quarter, I taught Marketing, Small Business Management, Introduction to Business, Advertising, Consumer Behavior, Strategic Marketing – heck I was a second Donald Trump. I taught a vast array of business courses.

You guessed it. I had no academic training in business. No MBA. I took two basic business courses in college and bailed out as soon as I could. It was amazing that I could teach such a variety of courses with an MFA in creative writing.

Likely Page BreakI even went to the Dean of Faculty. Gave her a copy of one of my books. How to Write a Damn Good Speech. I said ” Hey, I was a corporate speechwriter. I have written books on business communication. I can teach communications.”

But that’s not how the system worked. They had a lawyer teaching business math, they had me teaching Math and Business, they had women with degrees in poetry teaching Business Communications.

One time students checked the Biology’s instructor credentials. She had no college degree and certainly no graduate degree in biology.

11. How Do They Get Accredited?

Yet programs at MSB kept getting accredited.

How? An ex-employee confessed to me. “It was blatant. I lied my head off to the accrediting committee.”

And apparently, students are warned away from talking to the accreditation committees.

“The accreditation people came at the beginning of the quarter”, a student remembers. “Linda F. was on a mission the week before!!! She came into our class and talked to us like we were a bunch of retards. She tried to make sure that if we had any issues with the school that we wouldn’t talk to the accreditation people. She fed us the biggest load of BS I have ever seen at that school. ”

And the lies apparently were told to students and the accreditation committees.

Another ex-employee said, “We told students and the accreditation committee there would be a full-fledged Vet Tech program at the MSB Richfield Campus. We knew there never would be.

“We knew that was a lie. In fact, Richfield does not even offer a Vet Tech program anymore.”