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Recruiter’s Experience at one For-Profit University Suggests Reform Efforts Will Face Hurdles

In four months as an enrollment counselor at Grand Canyon University, Ryan Richardson says he was instructed to sign up prospective students using practices criticized by regulators and lawmakers.

New federal measures to rein in certain recruitment practices are scheduled to take effect this summer, but it may be difficult for some schools to change their long-standing sales culture. Inset: Brian Mueller, CEO of Grand Canyon University, said the school would make changes to comply with new regulations on student recruitment.

When Ryan Richardson took a job as a recruiter at Grand Canyon University last summer, he was no novice to the business of for-profit colleges.

He had worked as an enrollment counselor at the University of Phoenix, the biggest school in the sector, for years before leaving to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball.

Richardson had heard that Grand Canyon was a good place to work: that it treated employees well and that—as a Christian university—it did not use the high-pressure sales tactics that had made him uncomfortable working at the University of Phoenix. But within days of starting at the school, Richardson said, he had a growing sense of disillusionment at the techniques the university was using to recruit students.

“I remember calling my Dad and telling him it was just like the University of Phoenix, except they’d implemented God into the mix,” Richardson said.

Richardson says he became so dismayed that he decided to record meetings, training sessions and conversations with Grand Canyon managers and other staff during the four months he stayed on the job, ending when he quit last October. The recordings, as well as other documents and internal e-mails that Richardson provided to ProPublica, give an unflattering inside view of how one team of recruiters at the school was seeking to bring in students.

For-profit schools’ recruitment methods have been the subject of intense scrutiny over the last year, as government investigators, lawmakers and regulators have taken aim at tactics deemed abusive or deceptive. Last week, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, decried for-profit schools’ “systemic effort to enroll students at any costs.”

New federal measures to rein in certain recruitment practices are scheduled to take effect this summer. Richardson’s experience suggests it may be difficult for some schools to change their long-standing sales culture.

With just over 42,000 students and a market capitalization of around $800 million, Phoenix-based Grand Canyon is one of the smaller publicly traded for-profit schools, some of which have burgeoned into multi-billion dollar enterprises.

The University of Phoenix has around 438,000 students and net revenues of nearly $4.5 billion last year, according to regulatory filings. Kaplan Higher Education, which is owned by the Washington Post Company, has over 100,000 students, and DeVry Inc., which owns DeVry University, had about 130,000, according to company spokespeople.

Grand Canyon has relatively low loan default rates, according to recently released government data and was not named in a recent Government Accountability Office report that found fraudulent recruiting practices at 15 other for-profit colleges.

Richardson started at the school last June. He had just been released by the St. Paul Saints, a Minnesota team unaffiliated with Major League Baseball, after a quixotic attempt to revive his aspirations to be a catcher, at age 27.

He said he was drawn to Grand Canyon because he believed the company’s chief executive, Brian Mueller, operated an ethical for-profit college. Mueller took over Grand Canyon after more than two decades at the University of Phoenix and its parent company, the Apollo Group, including a stint as company president.

Almost immediately, however, Richardson said he was taken aback by the way his manager, Isabel Ford, a long-time Grand Canyon employee, prodded her 12-member team to call prospective recruits as many as four times a day and coached him to be more aggressive in signing up students.

“You have to ride the bull a little bit harder,” Ford can be heard telling Richardson in a recording he provided.

Richardson refused to pressure people into enrolling in the doctoral program, he said. Instead, he insisted on giving candidates all the information he thought they needed before signing up. He said he never tried to dissuade anyone from attending Grand Canyon, but they simply chose to go elsewhere or stopped answering his calls.

Grand Canyon confirmed that Richardson resigned without notice.

Ford sent e-mails instructing Richardson to make 100 calls and leave 100 messages per day. He also was given so-called “blitz lists,” names and numbers to blast with multiple calls throughout a given day.

Some of the people he was directed to call repeatedly were not interested in signing up for Grand Canyon, Richardson said. In a recording he provided to ProPublica, a woman pleaded with him to stop calling, saying the school had the wrong number and that she had been receiving calls from multiple recruiters each day.

Among the training materials provided to Richardson was a document titled “Creating Urgency-Guidelines,” with topic headings that included, “Set the Pace,” “Focus on the Finish,” and “Don’t Stop at No.” Ford listened in on Richardson’s recruitment calls, instructing him on how he could capitalize on prospective students’ emotional cues to persuade them to sign up.

“I would have said, ‘What is it that you were hoping to get out of a doctoral degree?’ ” Ford said, reviewing Richardson’s pitch to a woman on the school’s doctoral program in education. “Right then, you would have known the vanity thing, because that came out. She just wants ‘doctor.’ ”

In his speech on Monday, Harkin criticized for-profit schools for manipulating potential applicants’ emotions in order to get them to sign up. He pointed to ITT Technical Institute, Kaplan University, and Corinthian Colleges, where documents or staff statements have shown that recruiters were taught to identify prospects’ “pain” as a lever to prompt them to enroll.

Ford still works at Grand Canyon, but she declined to comment when reached at work.

In an interview last month, Mueller called Ford’s conduct “inappropriate” and “disappointing” and said she had been “counseled.” He said the documents given to Richardson were not official company training materials.

Grand Canyon allowed ProPublica to review its training materials, which explained federal laws on telemarketing and gave detailed instructions on how to make recruitment calls. One sheet said that, following a recruiter’s call, “The potential student should walk away feeling educated and knowledgeable, ready to make the best decision for him/herself.”

But a lawsuit filed in 2007 asserts that Grand Canyon had relied on high-pressure recruiting tactics. The complaint describes a meeting of top executives, during which the director of ground enrollment said recruiters were participating in contests to boost the number of new students at the college of education. The suit also cites an e-mail from the director of business development and enrollment that says recruiters who signed up 25 new students would receive a $25 gift card.

According to the complaint, the company took top-performing recruiters to an annual ski vacation in Lake Tahoe. The company settled the suit for $5.2 million last August but did not admit liability.

Richardson said recruiters were not rewarded for signing up students, but they knew their jobs were on the line if they did not. He said they were also rewarded in more subtle ways that nevertheless encouraged them to pressure people to enroll.

For instance, a training document called “Retention Strategies” refers to bonuses that recruiters could earn when students they enrolled had completed a certain number of course credits.

“Remember that it is not just a Reg[istration], it’s an enrollment that pays off in the future if you take care of it,” the presentation says. “The more you invest, the more you will get in return.”

Richardson said he obtained the PowerPoint presentation from a computer drive that was accessible to all staff members.

Mueller would not give details on the amount of such bonuses, saying the information was proprietary, but admissions experts and regulators said incentives linked to signing up students could be corrosive.

“We believe this practice contains significant potential for abuse,” said James Kvaal, deputy undersecretary for Education.

Under the federal rules that take effect in July, such bonuses will no longer be permitted. Mueller said Grand Canyon would phase them out in order to comply.

The new regulations target misleading or overly aggressive recruiting practices by restoring a ban on tying recruiters’ pay to the number of new students they enroll and strengthen the Department of Education’s ability to take action against deceptive marketing.

To discourage schools from pressuring people to sign up for courses in which they are unlikely to succeed, the regulations also link colleges’ eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs to the ability of their students to repay loans, Education Department spokesman Justin Hamilton said.

The draft of the rule elicited tens of thousands of public comments and was the focus of an intense public relations and lobbying drive by both supporters and opponents. The department delayed the full finalization of the rule but expects to publish the entire text early this year, Hamilton said.

A spokesman for the University of Phoenix said the school has already implemented changes to its enrollment procedures, including “completely eliminating enrollment results as a component of enrollment advisor compensation.”

Harkin has said he plans to introduce legislation aimed at abuses in the for-profit sector, and his committee is planning more hearings into proprietary schools.

Richardson, who now works at a data processing company, said he never enrolled a single student at Grand Canyon. He quit in late October, when he says he could no longer stomach the pressure to sign people up. Yet he doesn’t think he was a bad enrollment counselor.

“If I could have found someone who was genuinely going to benefit from the program, then I would have registered them,” he said.



Table: Default rates for publicly-traded and privately-held for-profit education companies
Source: Office of Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Ia.), Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions

Company Name Current Enrollment FY 2007 3-Year Cohort Default RateFY 2008 3-Year Cohort Default Rate
Alta College, Inc.* 15,479 25.3%26.8%
American Career College 4,777 23.0%24.0%
American Public Education, Inc.* 69,200 3.3%11.5%
Anthem Education Group* 10,434 22.6%24.2%
Apollo Group, Inc.* 438,100 17.8%22.5%
Bridgepoint Education* 77,179 17.2%21.5%
Capella Education Co.* 38,634 5.5%7.5%
Career Education Corp.* 118,205 19.8%24.4%
Chancellor University* 515 N/A7.5%
Concorde Career Colleges, Inc. 8,873 24.4%22.7%
Corinthian Colleges, Inc.* 105,498 29.1%39.3%
DeVry, Inc.* 64,003 16.2%20.1%
Drake Colleg of Business 543 17.8%43.2%
ECPI Colleges, Inc. 12,849 N/A25.4%
Education America, Inc. 10,658 31.0%30.1%
Education Management Corp.* 158,300 14.7%18.4%
Grand Canyon Education, Inc.* 42,300 2.9%8.4%
Henley-Putnam UniversityDoes not participate in Title IV programs
Herzing Educational System 5,616 14.4%16.4%
ITT Educational Services* 84,686 24.1%29.3%
Kaplan Higher Education* 112,141 27.4%30.2%
Keiser University 18,788 22.6%22.2%
Laureate Education, Inc. (Walden University)* 40,714 3.0%3.3%
Lincoln Educational Services Co.* 32,000 26.2%30.8%
National American University* 9,643 15.7%16.7%
Rasmussen, Inc.* 14,018 17.9%13.1%
Strayer Education, Inc.* 57,300 13.0%14.0%
TUI University* 8,046 N/A4.7%
Universal Technical Institute, Inc.*19,30013.8%14.5%
Vatterott Educational Centers, Inc.* 9,728 28.3%30.6%

* Publicly traded or Wall Street investor owned companies.

John Que 3000

Feb. 14, 2011, 4:31 p.m.

The University of Phoenix is one of the worst educational institutions selling bogus degrees.
They use their patented team approach for everything and it is impossible to be granted any esteem for individual work, as would happen in a traditional setting.

Jenny Benjamin

Feb. 15, 2011, 10:59 a.m.

University of Phoenix is an Amazing school!  I learned more there than going to a traditional school.  Online isnt for everyone, which is why some people “blame it on the school” versus take blame for them not being able to comprehend an intense online environment.  You need to have computer skills and drive to succeed there!

One thing is for sure:  Ryan can’t seem to hit the ball.  His batting ave at GCU of .000 must be close to his baseball career BA. 

Glad GCU allowed you to review their materials, they seemed to be reasonable.  It is offensive to suggest that God is being leveraged somehow by them.

Be interested to follow up with Ryan and see how long he lasts at his new job.

Seems like he doesn’t understand that hard work and determination help people reach their dreams.

Well, of course, the for-profit universities pay more for enrolling more. They are for-profit; they exist to increase the wealth of the stock holders. For-profit university is an oxymoron. These schools exist to make money, not to educate anyone. The education provided, if any, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

Isn’t it unethical to disclose a company’s inside business practices, even if sleazy?

I used to work at GCU..everything this former employee says is true.  I was an enrollment advisor there as well as an enrollment manager before I left.  Mueller and his entourage that he brought with him from Univ of Phoenix always encouraged all of these practices.

@Steve: There is a difference between ‘sleazy’ and ‘illegal’. The new regulations are obviously in place because inside practices were unethical and illegal.

@John Mc Graw: Just because a company is ‘for profit’ doesn’t mean it can act in any way it likes to make a buck. That is why there are laws governing the behavior, conduct, and practices of corporations. It isn’t okay for a company to employ ‘any means necessary’ just because it has stockholders.

King Harold the 3rd

Feb. 15, 2011, 2:33 p.m.

It’s funny reading this about a guy who’s credability can’t even be reviewed on any level.  Ryan is a total dirt bag!!!

Ok, Ok, Ok….  Let’s not make this a public argument and get personal.  GCU does engage in these practices and encourages them as well.  The management staff upward of 75% are former UOP managers.  If you think GCU is not the new UOP, your just being told by your managers to post positive comments here,  and that is to be expected.  You all know well and good if anyone could be a fly on the wall in the GCU call centers, they would not know that they were at a christian university; or any university at that.  The BUZZ words that no one is talking about is this:  They (GCU) are not tying “compensation” to enrollment numbers - GCU is tying your “employment” to enrollment numbers.  It’s no secret when your on the inside of this culture.  I am on the inside, and as soon as there is a way to make the documentation public without being blackballed and hunted then you will get the real truth.  Who cares what Ryan is, he got recordings and hard evidence.  His personal life has nothing to do with it.  You guys are just UOP/GCU plants doing P.R. damage control.  Now go back to your manager and keep your job secure with your “on board” attitude.

Ryan is right! I hope some more employees step up and blow the whistle on these practices. They are now a publicly traded, they didn’t get there being ethical. I wonder how they plan on staying there. I hope every manager, at GCU, realizes that the company will sell you out if anything goes to the press. My guess is his manager was doing exactly what she was hired to do.

@ Karen, the trouble is that these practices were not and are not illegal. They will be illegal when the new rules take effect.

From the article, “The recordings, as well as other documents and internal e-mails that Richardson provided to ProPublica, give an unflattering inside view.”

There is nothing illegal about being unflattering. Taking trade secrets from inside a company, and disclosing them, is illegal, if that is what they were.

Was Richardson free to disclose the material he did as part of his employment agreement with the school?

There will be much banter on this topic; however incenting recruiters is a normal part of university life. It’s not just a part of attracting athletes; it is a part of recruiting students. At one of the top automotive engineering schools in the country the recruiters are incented (paid) to drive the student body numbers. We live in a pay for performance world.
My question is … who is the victim? The student that gets and education? The student that drops out and is stuck with student loans? What about that introduction speech – look to your left… one of these people won’t be here at graduation. What about their student loans? Are those universities crooks too?
Student loans are big business for all universities and for some students the only way to pay for college. The real crime that UOP and Devry have committed is they have decided to compete with the educational establishment. They are making the fat cat professors and administrators nervous because they may have to compete with a woman that teaches part time at UOP whose day time job is the VP of Product Development for a fortune 1000 company. Today one of her students may get a job offer from their UOP professor, versus of getting a reference letter from their state university professor.
Those that can do and those that can’t teach.
The establishment is nervous and they are protecting their turf. No university can guarantee employment after graduation. Get a grip folks. Ask yourself why 75% or more of the top universities have online programs. It is the future. It is today. The establishment wants to control competition. As a capitalist pig I love that the “for profits” have come to market. I can’t wait to see how this all shake s out.

I just can’t believe that Ryan was hired on as an Enrollment Counselor and GCU actually wanted him to enroll students.

I’ve spent most of my working life in academia (of the non-profit variety). Certainly, we need to enroll and retain students to survive—but at the small campus where I’ve spent my career, we see students as people, not “marks”. I can’t imagine using these kinds of high-pressure tactics on a prospective student, and I can’t imagine wanting to be a part of an organization that would do so. I frankly find this approach to “education” somewhat sickening.

Bob Smith, it sounds like he was hired as a counselor i.e a person to point the applicant in the right direction, not mislead them, which it sounds like he wouldn’t do. How would you feel if your counselor gave you and your husband bad information?

Steve, not it’s not unethical, it’s morons like you that allow establishments like this to thrive, kick you 40-50k a year and you’ll do whatever they ask. It seems this guy just wasn’t going to be a part of it. You’re an idiot.

Luther, you have violated the terms of the User Agreement by using profanity in your comment.

@ Mack:  You make a good point Mack.  I would ask you, do you feel that the methods and approaches that GCU utilizes to boost enrollment to answer to Wall Street is ok?  Also, Non-Profit State schools engage in recruitment, but not of the same caliber.  I have very close contacts with ASU’s Online Enrollment, and when an outside vendor was used, it failed ONLY because ASU would not compromise it’s admission and academic performance standard to acquire enrollment.  Athletic recruitment is a bit different in that it encourages and seeks to have a presence in “giving back”.  I’m sure you are aware of the fact that the top schools Harvard, Brown, Duke and the like have a very strong demand for students that are giving back to the community.  In as much as always donating thier time to causes and even student council etc.  They are concerned more with Character.  So recrutiment is very competitive.  My point is this…  For-Profit is as you described it with it’s amazing benefits, but it has taken the road to riches approach when they were allowed to be public.  This is expected behavior of the human psyche, but not acceptable.  I beleive in capitalism, but not at the hand of education where trust is to be above reproach.  I do love the statement those that can; DO, and those that can’t; Teach.  I think you would be shocked to know what teachers make these days in Higher Ed. 

@ Luther; don’t abandon the conversation, do contribute, just no colorful language.  I understand how passionate you are about the subject.

@ Steve; I would hope that it’s ok for him to contribute, and I do appreciate your perspective.  I would ask you to be considerate of the fact that inside, outside or no-side; when trust is being violated is there really a consideration to what is “ok” to disclose?  I would aslo want to know further what you think in regards to a sales tactic being considered a “trade secret”.  Thanks.

I worked as an Enrollment Counselor at GCU as well. The pressure to enroll anybody was very high. Our jobs were threatened if we didn’t hit our enrollment quotas.
There’s a large lawsuit going on right now for enrollment counselors at GCU who weren’t compensated for overtime. The former Utah location, which was closed the end of 2009, is the primary target of this lawsuit but it is open to people who work/worked at the Arizona location as well.
Go to http://www.grandcanyonovertimeaction.com to join the lawsuit or to find our more info. Feel free to contact the Legal Counsel involved in the suit.

Thank you for the overtime post.  I was an employee ar GCU before they changed their overtime policy and at that time they only paid us half of our hourly wage because we were salaried employees… it was crazy!!!  So instead of the normal 18 an hour we received 9 bucks an hour!!!

You’re welcome. More and more former/current employees are coming forward with their documentation and experiences with the issues which transpired at GCU.

So about the bonuses they paid to counselors… every admissions, financial aid, and academic counselor at GCU gets a bonus when a student completes 24 credits.
Admissions receives $150
Financial aid rep $30
Academic counselor $30

They call it retention for keeping students in class

All directors and VP’s also receive the retention bonuses for completion of students at 24 credits…

Oh and I forgot one more thing…


Brian Muellers salary either doubles or triples if he hits budget for the year

@Jason; Interesting, Thank you very much for the information.  Yes, Brian Muller did not like that call center much.  And the guy that was running it was a real idiot; and I don’t mean the Director in Phoenix, the on site Director.  He has moved on to better pastures, but what a tool he is.  I will spare him the embarrassment. 

@Renee; Yes Renee, That is completely true. I believe he has accomplished that goal and is being paid very well. 

Now for some real news…...  There seems to be a very interesting correlation between disciplinary action and above average pay.  there are people that have been here a long time and have significant pay, and they are held to a different standard and expectation, which of course maybe, maybe 10% of the staff is meeting that expectation.  So that of course builds grounds to cut pay (but supposedly that does not happen) or as I said earlier, Numbers are no longer tied to “compensation” but rather to “employment”.  The regular comment at GCU is; “there are plenty of people that want a job, and if you can’t do it, then someone else will”  Your not carrying an “On Board” attitude if you dare question any of that thinking….  I’v said enough.

This Article and Comment String needs to be circulated at GCU and everywhere else former GCU people are now.

As a former employee, I can say as well that all of the above information is true.  Working in that organization was extremely draining, but the sad part is…it didn’t have to be.

I was in enrollment there and just felt constant pressure to produce day in and day out.  How many enrollments are you projecting today, how many for the week, how many for the month, how many for the next start date.  Talk time, Talk time, Talk time. It never stopped.

In the weekly meetings that were held, you never know when your name would be put on a giant screen in front of your peers, ridiculing you about your enrollment numbers or lack there of. Even though I “performed” in their eyes, it was tough to watch other people go through the embarrassment of being “blasted” in a public forum.  And on top of that, you have no one to turn to because those people were feeling the same pain.

Also, employees there are treated like children not adults. Here are just a few of the “elementary school” bright ideas by one specific executive management team member to increase enrollment performance(And yes it really happened).

-Taking the company to Dave and Busters for video games
-Giving the staff cookies on Mondays
-Having adults cut from magazines the things that motivated them only to be pasted on a poster (DRS?). 

None of it worked but to this day that person, who is grossly overpaid for their skill set, probably still doesn’t know why.

Some people may be thinking “Oh I wish my boss would take me to D & B…or give us cookies every week”.  But to put it into perspective, it was like a person beating you with a whip daily, then in a caring voice, asking if they could get you neosporin and a fresh band-aid.  It will never work. 

This place needs to be exposed and exposed quickly for its sweat shop like tactics, unethical practices and manage by fear mentality. Then maybe things can change for the poor, lost, and beaten souls still employed there…as well as the students that are paying 10’s of thousands of dollars for an education.

Here is a link to their guiding principles on the company website.  And I can honestly say that NOT ONE of them apply.  (Guiding Principles are at the bottom of the page)

http://www.gcu.edu/index.php?page=mission 

For profit education is becoming as dirty as car sales.

@Collazo:
I agree with what you wrote. There’s so much crap in documentations we have from former GCU employees.
This stuff has to end. It’s not right for these for-profit universities to treat the students and employees this way while using our tax dollars for most of their revenue.
You should contact one of the law firms involved in this suit. I’d love to speak with you sometime. You can email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

I recently resigned from GCU and this is all true I was there for four years and the pressure to enroll is unbearable at times! I worked in a position where I had to generate my own leads by calling schools and getting the district office to send out an email! I also had a rep that would bring in leads and applications but when I would call they would not be interested at that time and my mgr would want me to use scholarships to get them to change their mind! I was put on a coaching plan for not getting my 6 students every month and I even worked overtime without pay to reach this number! The reason I would not get paid for the overtime was because I did not have 3hrs of talktime everyday of the week! We were suppose to leave a message everytime we called! I could go on and on about things I was told and my have some emails that were sent out to the team that would make anyone scared to loose their job! I think it GCU is a great school but they just need to practice what they preach!

@Jason:  At this time it’s best to stay under the radar and try to gather as many people as possible that have suffered under thier lies, promises and just plain demeaning tactics.

@Rn: Gotta tell ya; I was put under a lot of pressure to write people up for performance, but instead chose to help them out with any resourse I could muster.  It’s not right to see good people rail-roaded like that, especially students as well.  i know of the experience you speak of.  I have a better one for you…  I am seeing write-ups with no specifics on how to improve, no time lines and no specific coaching direction to achieve in order to be released from the write up.  Now I’m no lawyer, but, that just can’t be right.  It’s probably time to speak with some legal professionals and see what is in store for management that’s “not on-board”. 

Best of luck, and make certain you make your friends aware of this stuff.

@Rn:
I’m sorry you had to go through all that while employed at GCU. . Go to grandcanyonovertimeaction.com and contact the attorney about your situation. There’s already a number of employees who worked many hours of overtime without compensation who are involved in the lawsuit. If you have questions, you can email me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Don’t let these schools get away with their unethical tactics. Please unite together and force these “schools” to change the way they conduct business. I, personally, am completely against for-profit colleges. They put the focus on money and not on the learning experience.

I used to work at GCU as well and was one of the “Top Producing” Enrollment Counselors at the school. Before Mueller took charge it was a place that valued its students and employees. However, it soon became a place that was obsessed with money and growth and failed to take the students best interests at heart. I could no longer work for a place like this and after a little over two years decided it was time for me to move forward. I’m glad that legislation is finally being put forth to put an end to GCU’s enrollment tactics which in the end only benefit the school and not the students.

Watch for Education Affiliates out of Baltimore.  They are trying to go public.  I am an x employee of this industry.  I can say ditto to alot of what has been mentioned here.  I feel extremely sorry for anyone employeed in this industry at this time.  Of course, that is only if they understand the difference between right and wrong.  What to do, what to do!!!!

This is really disturbing to read! I am a student at GCU and chose this institution because it is one of the few Universities that offer an online degree in education. My husband is in the Army and we move a lot so going to a traditional University went out the door when I made the choice to support him in the pursuit of his dreams. I haven’t had a bad experience at GCU as of yet but I have to say that it leaves a very uneasy feeling inside of me to read things like this about their institution.

it scares me to read all of these posts but i know they are true. i believe they are true. i almost ended up going to UOPx and the thing that stopped me was when all of a sudden i got a letter from Apollo stating that I qualified for this x amount of money for school and that they were going to disburse it on this date but I never gave UOPx my “yes” and the enrollment advisor was really pushy and knew how to play with my emotions…very good sales tactic for UOPx. very shady as well. i put a stop to all of it and made sure to call all lenders and that nothing was disbursed. and then i saw GCU online and contacted the school myself, thinking this might be a better option. i was told it’s a christian school. i’m a christian myself and to me, if one does not practice what they preach, what good is that? christian or non-christian school, if they practice bad business, then that makes no sense at all. i was looking to start at GCU but i felt a lot of pressure from the enrollment advisor too. and she’s younger than me and w/o kids…telling me i need to do this and that. who is she to tell me all of this? i was asking about the enrollment procedure and was told that i can only move the start date once and after that, if i don’t enroll or start on this specific date after saying no once, i would be dropped and she doesn’t know how difficult it would be for me to re-apply again? hhmmmm that’s wierd cause at any traditional school, you can start anytime, without any pressure. i was told she would have to know now or soon so she can open up the seat to the next student. but then again, she was the one telling me that not a whole lot of students are signing up for health care administration. i was only one of the few and now i have to give my decision right away or else? i really hoped i had found the right on-line school who cared for students, i was quite impressed with GCU in the beginning and now, i’m really having 2nd thoughts. i’m no dumb student and i work very hard and i do my homework well esp. when it comes to schools as this has everything to do with my future! it’s terrible not being able to go on campus and sit in all those classes…i wish i could do it but thought online might be better but in the end, it just might be worth waiting and really attending a traditional college and really be able to get your degree in the field that you want. well, i hope something good will be done to change all of this. i feel sorry for the students. sorry to hear about those employees being forced to recruit, recruit, recruit. i’m glad they’re coming forward. i’m glad that this july, all these schools like UOPx will be required to show data of graduates, etc. this will help future students make better decisions before signing up for degree programs. although GCU was not named for doing things illegally, i have to admit their enrollment advisors can be very pushy.

@ Mira and Teisha I have spoken to many graduates from what I thought of as not the best for profit schools to attend.  They got the education by not paying attention to all the negative talk going around about the the school.  They had to. They now owed the money, so they made the best of it.  I admired them for that.  Once your in it, give it ev erything you can, as you both seem to be doing.  No education that you work for is ever for nothing or wasted You will get good things out of it.

I’m curious!  About 10 or so years ago an admissions representative from an unnamed proprietary school was on 60 Minutes.  You couldn’t see his face.  He was telling them about all the unscrupulous things the school had made them do to get enrollments.  (Of course, nothing ever came of this.) The pressure, the unpaid overtime, working conditions that always reminded me of working in another country, not the US.  Personally the school I worked for got caught twice while I was there by wage and hourly people, had to pay us and as soon as it was all quiet would make the same demands.  All of this that it going on now, will just continue.  Where the bottom line is the $ and not the student or the employees, managers can become very creative.  The promises of change in recruiting practices, empty promises.  They will always find a way around all of it.  Does anyone listens to the admission reps?  Would the government? oh I forgot, the payoffs.  So sad.

@Liz Be careful what you say here; I am suspecting you work for the university and want to make a case for not considering the moral ground a University stands on.  that would be a shame, and I’m sure your not suggesting that someone ignore one of the main reasons for attending an institution and just keep your head down.  So with that said, Mira has a very good idea, and that is to stick to the traditional universities.  They are much more transparent and do not have the moral quandry that a wall street company has.  See Liz, I can appreciate what your saying from an individual accountability stand-point, but you missed the part that has changed the landscape and intent of GCU.  They are no longer a school, they are a company.  I work for them and know first hand what role this plays all the way to the top.  As a matter of FACT: Brian Muller has said; “If this keeps up and hinders our ability to keep moving forward, then we’ll just turn it to Non-Profit”!  Now that’s a business man that knows how to get what he wants - his very own Legacy he was not allowed to acquire at UOP.  By the way, upwards of 90% of the leadership at GCU is former UOP, and there are more coming.  Hell, we have very qualified people in the Military Division and they inserted a Senior VP….  just like that!  Well, we all know its all planned out for the next two years at least.  If you want a real education with all of the traditional history and dignity attached to your degree; stick to the state schools.  They all have an online presence, but that’s the price we pay for waiting and disconnecting from education.  You can do it, many have and will continue to do so.

@Liz; oh, I meant to address the payoff part of your comment.  Do your homework, and look at the four cases that resulted in “payoff’s” and you will find that there were none that are employee driven.  They are Government driven.  Also, very important that you know; the payoffs that have occurred with employees at GCU, was to acquire gag orders because of past infractions that need to be forgotten and moved past.  Which seems to make sense, but be aware that when GCU decides to pay someone off, in most cases it is GCU initiated, not employee initiated.  It has been used as a necessary tool to cease a relationship that GCU felt should not continue.  Check it out.  There have only been a handful anyway for under 100k, more like 20.  My comment is for you to do your homework and realize they all still work in for profit education and it’s not a first choice because it follows you. 

Good Luck in your research.

@ Callazo I promise I don’t work at the university, nor live in your state.  Just kinda jumped in to the comments.

I work at a non profit University and am proud to say I never feel this kind of pressure to use unethical tactis on my prospective students! With that said, YES there are some sleeze ball schools out there but the unfortunate part is that all non profits are not like that so you just have to filter through and check your facts!

@Stephanie Do you work for Western Governers University? If so they are no different than the rest of the for-profits. They are just flying under the radar.

Check out what the state of Kentucky is doing. The legislation is House Bill 125 has passed and will go to the Senate.  It calls for a shifting of oversight of some larger for-profit schools to the Council on Postsecondary Education.

i was working with an enrollment advisor from GCU in the beginning of feb. i was merely asking about the online program and they had me fill out a lot of papers and fax back to them. i thought they seemed to be a pretty decent school. “christianity” was brought up a lot and i was told i’d find a home there. really nice young girl just doing her job. but she was pretty persistent in getting me into the program. i kept stalling because it just didn’t feel right. i didn’t feel good about their way of doing things. i did a lot of research myself and read up on everything about their school. and the more i talked to her, the more i felt uneasy about signing up. i was told they have have a drop policy and if i said no the 1st time, i can only ask to move my start date one more time and if i still don’t start the program, they’d drop me. i asked why their policy was like that and that if they really cared for students instead of just the money, they wouldn’t push them to sign up and start now. i literally prayed about this over and over and asked for a sign and for the month of feb, she didn’t get to sing me up and the very last day of that month, i remember her asking if she should put it on paper that i am interested in starting the first week of march. i was still unsure about the school. i was playing with my FAFSA, about to change the school code just to see what i’d qualify for. i called and asked for someone to help me with something and since she couldn’t figure it out, i thought i’d call the enrollment advisor. interestingly enough, i was told my enrollment advisor was no longer with GCU! she was let go that same day i spoke with her about when she can get me into class. i said i wasn’t ready yet. she was fired. this was an eye opener for me. she even told me she’s been there for years and that her job was not on the line. i was worried for her…talk about all the recorded conversations…i’m amazed how crazy these companies are becoming. they don’t care about their employees and the students. truly and eye opener and a blessing in disguise. i was told i had a new enrollment advisor but because of this, i am not interested in attending the school. i had shady people trying to get me in at univ of phoenix and now, with this thing at gcu, i’ve had enough. i’ve already been accepted to great universities like davis and cal state so i’ll just go to traditional school. i was really considering online school like gcu but i’m so disappointed at how they do business and push students to get into class. and it’s amazing how i was always told they are the best and top christian school. and now, look, my enrollment advisor got fired when not being able to meet her quota! unfortunate for her and others who lose their job for the most ridiculous reasons and a blessing for me in the end. i hope the CEO and managers and everyone else at GCU are reading all our comments here.

I agree with everything Ryan said. I worked in the military division and was under constant scrutiny about enrolling students. No one ever checked my DD 214 when I was hired. As a veteran, I had a problem with their recruiting practices and that was the reason I quit. The GI Bill was the main reason they started the division. They wanted that money. I started my Masters there and I’m glad I didn’t use my GI Bill to finish. I still get computer-generated e-mails about my next classes, which I’m not in. The safest bet is to go to a state school.

@Chris… Well done Chris, because that is EXACTLTY what is going on.  These Newbies to the industry, as well as the “favored” ones do not worry about this because they have not hit a really great income in the industry, and then have to fight for the job they built, and the “incentives” they have earned.  You know you got that one right. 

@Lani… Yep, sorry you were part of the acknowledgement of the enrollment being down by better than 56% for Feb; so there was an incredible push; like none I have ever seen before on enrollment.  That’s all gone now and MOST counselors that were recently put on WRITE UP’s - Called a “CAP” (corrective action plan) were moved up in severity to alot of “Final Warnings”.  In all of these it’s about what they call “First Course Postings” that’s a fancy way of saying “STUDENTS STARTING CLASS” or better yet…  “ENROLLMENTS”...  ahhh, the dirty word of the industry.  And yes, it is a dirty word because it’s Grand Cayon Universities solicitation and outright cohersing students to utilize Title IV monies to boost up the stock! 

Yes, stay with the real schools of our day; the Public School System, or go to the real Private Universities.

Oh and by the way; About people reading this; you can be sure they are not. 

Thank you ProPublica for doing this, but you know what it really takes to get a story to shake up the situation.  I do hope that you will investigate further and look to your colleagues in the industry from phoenix; say the Arizona Republic and find someone who has written on this subject quite a bit and really go deeper with GCU as they have with UOP and really invoked change.  UOP is becoming a better place and it’s because of journalists that keep them accountable.

i’ve said enough. 

I wish you all well, and keep sharing your experiences and occurences.

I have been in forprofit for over 10 years and I have trudged through the traditional track for my own degrees. What I have discovered may shock some but its truth. I paid close to 80k for my education at two colleges in Chicago that have a reputation of excellence. However, not once did anyone take the time to care or give me a damn cookie. They treated me like a pauper and insisted It was an honor to be bear them or sitting in their giant lecture rooms. On the other hand in my career i have driven numbers. But, it the long run I know I have helped individuals who may have never graduated from any college go on and make a living wage that afforded them a decent lifestyle. Welfare, single mothers, minorities, have all been enrolled by me and yes some I had to pressure. However, I never stopped pressuring them. They could do it and will I would praise. it’s easy for those of you that come from a silver spoon or a typical middle class home to overlook the whole educational system. We remain in our bubble while the underclass in our society suffers. For-profit schools even the playing field. They are looked down upon for sales tactics but they are an intricate part of the educational system that can change someones life for the better. My experience has been tough yet rewarding. Knowing I went to schools that never cared about individualism only their elite makes me sick. Elite students are not what most urban schools are producing. The public school system in America is failing and we in for-profit try to clean up the mess. The graduates we do produce could have easily shortened their life spans by following the expectations set by the public school factor. Are some practices just wrong? Yes! However, their is a need and i’m proud to be that need!