Colleges using fear tactics against potential students

By Lawrence Lease on March 12, 2018

Colleges fight tooth and nail to recruit students to their college using any method necessary. Recruiters use “pressure points” to recruit low-income students who are struggling with personal and financial issues. In 2011, a Senate oversight committee began investigating for-profit schools including ITT Tech and DeVry University.



For-profit colleges are facing increased scrutiny and new regulations amid growing evidence of aggressive and deceptive recruiting tactics and a disproportionate number of students defaulting on federal loans. Critics of the industry have pointed to the tremendous amounts of money such schools spend on marketing and recruiting in order to get more students—and their federal aid funds—in the door.

ITT Tech training manuals laid out questions recruiters should ask prospective students in order to “poke the pain” and convince them to sign up for classes. “Level 1 Pain” questions focus on telling the story of a student’s performance in high school or in getting a GED. The recruiter then continues pushing buttons asking questions such as “What has not having a college education cost you?” and “What are you willing to change now, or have you given up trying to deal with the problem?”

Kaplan University encourages recruiters to “Keep digging until you uncover their pain, fears and dreams” and to “Get to their emotions and you will create the urgency!” For-profit recruiters are constantly criticized by student advocacy groups for using methods such as preying on uneducated students who may have little chance of success once admitted to the schools.

Within the for-profit sector: 57 percent of students had withdrawn within a year between 2008 and 2009. Students at for-profit schools represent less than 15 percent of college enrollments nationwide, but take in a quarter of federal student-aid dollars and account for nearly half of all student loan defaults, according to data released last week by the Department of Education. A quarter of all students enrolled at for-profit schools defaulted on student loans within three years—more than twice the rate of students at public nonprofit colleges. For-profit colleges, including Corinthian Colleges and the University of Phoenix, collect more than 85 percent of their revenue from federal student aid.

The circumstances that lead to the loans being generated should be a key consideration in addressing the student loan crisis. It would be nice to say, for the purposes of the discussion, that students just made poor financial decisions or that they were the victims of fraud. However, in reality, there is plenty of blame to go around. Before anyone tries to point the finger at the person who “signed on the dotted line,” it is probably worth looking at how and why they were convinced to do so.

Born and raised in Wasilla, Alaska. I am citizen journalist and looking to find a official paying journalism job somewhere in the country. I enjoy watching TV, reading books and traveling.

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