For-profit colleges that target the homeless?

We keep finding interesting stories around the problem of for-profit college scams. The latest is a report from BusinessWeek in the spring about how some recruiters for University of Phoenix and other for-profit colleges were targeting homeless people in Cleveland and other cities.

Benson Rollins wants a college degree. The unemployed high school dropout who attends Alcoholics Anonymous and has been homeless for 10 months is being courted by the University of Phoenix. Two of its recruiters got themselves invited to a Cleveland shelter last October and pitched the advantages of going to the country’s largest for-profit college to 70 destitute men.

Their visit spurred the 23-year-old Rollins to fill out an online form expressing interest. Phoenix salespeople then barraged him with phone calls and e-mails, urging a tour of its Cleveland campus. “If higher education is important to you for professional growth, and to achieve your academic goals, why wait any longer? Classes start soon and space is limited,” one Phoenix employee e-mailed him on Apr. 15. “I’ll be happy to walk you through the entire application process.”

Rollins’ experience is increasingly common. The boom in for-profit education, driven by a political consensus that all Americans need more than a high school diploma, has intensified efforts to recruit the homeless. Such disadvantaged students are desirable because they qualify for federal grants and loans, which are largely responsible for the prosperity of for-profit colleges. Federal aid to students at for-profit colleges jumped from $4.6 billion in 2000 to $26.5 billion in 2009. Publicly traded higher education companies derive three-fourths of their revenue from federal funds, with Phoenix at 86%, up from just 48% in 2001 and approaching the 90% limit set by federal law.

The article goes on to allege similar problems at Drake College of Business and Chancellor University in Cleveland which has Jack Welch as an investor and spokesman.

The article also alleges that relaxed standards under the Bush administration helped exacerbate the problem, but now the Obama administration is tightening the rules.

Some schools have suspended the policy of recruiting at homeless shelters after the publication of the BusinessWeek article.


Cool jobs – sports

Many sports fans fantasize about have a job in the sports industry, whether as a sports agent, a general manager of a sports team or as a sportswriter. Fortune recently ran a profile of Steve Greenberg, the king of the sports deal. He’s one of the most powerful man in the sports business, and his story can be helpful to anyone who wants to learn more about this business and possibly find a career there.

Of course, few people have the connections or education this guy had, but we’re not talking about replicating his incredible career. It’s about learning things about the business you want to be in, and then figuring out if there’s a place for you!


Get your LinkedIn profile

If you’re serious about finding a job in any professional career, you have to be on LinkedIn. Also, if you have a job but might be interested in a new job, the advice is the same.

Hopefully you’ve already heard this from others and you already have a profile. In that case do research on how to beef it up and get more prospective employers to find it.

If you haven’t heard this, or you’ve just been lazy about getting going, then get on there now and put up a profile!

Here’s some interesting information from a recent Fortune article on how LinkedIn will fire up your career.

If you need a job, or just want a better one, here’s a number that will give you hope: 50,000. That’s how many people the giant consulting firm Accenture plans to hire this year. Yes, actual jobs, with pay. It’s looking for telecom consultants, finance experts, software specialists, and many more. You could be one of them — but will Accenture find you?

To pick these hires the old-fashioned way, the firm would rely on headhunters, employee referrals, and job boards. But the game has changed. To get the attention of John Campagnino, Accenture’s head of global recruiting, you’d better be on the web.

To put a sharper point on it: If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, you’re nowhere. Partly motivated by the cheaper, faster recruiting he can do online, Campagnino plans to make as many as 40% of his hires in the next few years through social media. Says he: “This is the future of recruiting for our company.”

Facebook is for fun. Tweets have a short shelf life. If you’re serious about managing your career, the only social site that really matters is LinkedIn. In today’s job market an invitation to “join my professional network” has become more obligatory — and more useful — than swapping business cards and churning out résumés.

Companies explain that LinkedIn is more effective at finding qualified candidates, but it’s also more cost effective as well since employers don’t have to pay a recruiter.

Now it’s time to get started!


The Steven Slater saga

Few events have sparked so much conversation in this country on workplace issues like the bizarre story of Steven Slater and his strange meltdown at work. He’s now a celebrity with legions of Facebook fans and constant coverage on cable news, but his story does raise serious questions about workplace conditions, stress on the job and losing control under pressure.

The Seattle Times has a story about how flight attendants get most of the brunt of customer anger over things like baggage fees and other stresses of flying.

Forbes discusses how to avoid have a Steven Slater incident in your own organization. has a story explaining how to resist the urge to have a Steven Slater moment.

Yes, the whole incident has been a circus, but we’re seeing some thoughtful analysis and advice coming out of what is becoming a teachable moment.


Choosing what you love

The recession has been difficult for many people, but it has been particularly difficult for anyone who has lost their job.

Some are taking matters into their own hands and using a job loss as an opportunity to find a new career doing something they love. I understand this isn’t a real option for everyone. Paying the bills and supporting a family in the short term always come first.

That said, many people who lose their jobs are in a position to re-evaluate their jobs and careers and change course. If you can create a situation where you love your work, you can lead a much happier and productive life.

BusinessWeek addressed this issue in a recent article and also explained how certain developments can accelerate this trend. The article posed the issue as choosing between your passion vs a steady paycheck.

After more than a decade in the advertising business, Erik Proulx found himself on the wrong end of a pink slip. What most people might have deemed a setback, though, he saw as an opportunity. Instead of looking for another job making TV commercials, Proulx dove into a longtime dream: filmmaking. Last December he released a documentary called Lemonade, which chronicles the lives of ad industry veterans who reinvented themselves after being laid off: a coffee roaster, a nutrition coach, an artist, and others who, like Proulx, decided to pursue their passions rather than return to careers that were no longer inspiring.

With the unemployment rate apparently stuck at or near double digits, more people seem to be choosing a passion over a steady paycheck. Rather than waiting for companies to open up their payrolls, these people are taking matters into their own hands and defining their own jobs, going online to find each other, leverage each other’s capabilities and services, and learn faster by working together. That is a big risk, but these people realize that they’ll be far happier if they can find something they love doing and figure out creative ways to make a living from it. Focusing on work that offers greater meaning makes it easier to withstand the perils and roadblocks they will face as they leave the corporate fold.

The author then explores whether this new trend is sustainable and whether it can spur economic growth. He cites two significant factors that will push this along – cloud computing and social media. The answers are fairly obvious, but the article is worth reading. Also important is something called the cheap revolution championed by writers like Rich Karlgaard.


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