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.

A look at for-profit college EDMC

BusinessWeek has a recent profile on for-profit college EDMC and the involvement of Goldman Sachs. The article is balanced, as they gave EDMC the opportunity to present success stories, but many of the stories are unfortunately similar to others we’ve heard regarding for-profit colleges – too many students paying huge tuition costs, racking up huge student loans, and then not being able to get high-paying jobs they expected (or were sold on by recruiters). One student profiled in the article got a bachelor’s degree in game art and design at EDMC for a cost $70,000 in tuition and fees. After she graduating she got a job that paid $12 an hour recruiting employees for video game companies. She eventually lost that job and now she’s stripping.

We’re seeing more and more lawsuits in this area, and the article points out some lawsuits against EDMC. Changes are also coming from the Obama administration.

On July 23, the Obama Administration proposed restricting—and in extreme cases, cutting off entirely—programs whose graduates end up with the highest debts relative to their salaries and have the most trouble repaying their student loans. EDMC will be affected more than most other for-profit companies because of its focus on “passion” fields, such as art and cooking, rather than more practical accounting or business degrees, says Jeffrey M. Silber, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets in New York. Cooking, fashion, and arts jobs tend to have low starting salaries: A beginning cook, for example, earns an average of $18,000 a year, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, while a two-year culinary degree can cost $40,000 to $50,000. EDMC spokeswoman Jacquelyn P. Muller says Art Institute students tend to earn more, with those holding culinary degrees starting at $28,000.

You have to do your research if you’re thinking of attending one of these schools, and don’t fall for high-pressure sales tactics!

ABC News investigates for-profit colleges

ABC News has been investigating for-profit colleges like University of Phoenix, and they found plenty of evidence of problems similar to other for-profit college scams.

Ads for online schools are all over the Internet, plastered on billboards in subway cars and on television. The University of Phoenix, with nearly 500,000 students, is the biggest for-profit college. But some former students said they were duped into paying big bucks and going deeply in debt by slick and misleading recruiters.

“I don’t want anyone else to be sucked in,” said Melissa Dalmier, 30, of Noble, Ill.

The mother of three had big dreams to be an elementary school teacher, so when she saw ads for the University of Phoenix pop-up on her computer, she e-mailed them for more information. A few minutes later, Dalmier said she got a call from one of the school’s recruiters, who she said told her that enrolling in the associate’s degree in education program at the University of Phoenix would put her on the fast-track to reaching her dream.

“[The recruiter said] they had an agreement with Illinois State Board of Education and that as soon as I finished their program I’d be ready to start working,” she recalled.

Within 15 minutes, Dalmier was enrolled. Since she didn’t have enough money to pay for tuition, she said the recruiter helped her get federal student aid. In total, she took out about $8,000 in federally-guaranteed student loans.

But just a few months after Dalmier started, she said she learned the horrible truth: the degree program she was enrolled in would not qualify her to become a public school teacher upon graduation in Illinois.

“It was an outright lie. A bold faced lie,” she said.

ABC News did its own undercover investigation, and found the same despicable practices. Recruiters also push prospective students to load up on the student loans. Read the rest of the story and check out this video.

Success in Business: Education, Associations and Affiliate Programs Are Important Pieces of the Puzzle

Deciding to enter the business world as a career choice takes some consideration; actually going out and getting a job or starting a company requires some education. There is a wealth of ways to enter the business world. Some people decide to become accountants, managers of companies, or to start a company; education to teach people the necessary skills to be successful in these areas is available in a variety of formats.

Education at a college — community college, traditional college or online university — can offer course work in accounting, business, management or project management. Today attending college even as a non-traditional student — a student who did not enter school directly after high school or is working while attending school — is much easier than it was before. Classes can be taken when the work day is over or classes can be taken online. Gaining additional knowledge to move forward with a business career is attainable for a wider group of people than before.

Another key to entering the business world is making connections with possible clients or contacts that can assist in the ultimate goal. Local and national business groups hold networking events where like-minded business people can meet and exchange contact information. These groups also hold small education seminars on many subjects about how to succeed in business. National business organizations also hold annual conferences where an aspiring business person can meet useful contacts and take intensive courses; these conferences are generally a good mixture of education, business and fun.

For people who want to start a company, another mechanism for entering the business world is through affiliate programs. This method can increase revenues and increase worldwide business contacts and clients. Most of these programs offer education for the business owner on how to be successful with the process.

Each of these techniques can be used separately or combined for complete business plan for success.

More employees facing pay cuts

MCLEAN, VA - MAY 07: Job applicants line up for interviews at a career fair hosted by National Career Fairs May 7, 2010 in McLean, Virginia. The U.S. economy added 290,000 jobs in the month of April but the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent according to the latest figures released by the U.S. government. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The high unemployment rate continues to have an adverse affect even on those who still have jobs.

The furloughs that popped up during the recession are being replaced by a highly unusual tactic: actual cuts in pay.

Local and state governments, as well as some companies, are squeezing their employees to work the same amount for less money in cost-saving measures that are often described as a last-ditch effort to avoid layoffs.

A new report on Tuesday showed a slight dip in overall wages and salaries in June, caused partly by employees working fewer hours.

Though average hourly pay is still higher than when the recession began, the new wage rollbacks feed worries that the economy has weakened and could even be at risk of deflation. That is when the prices of goods and assets fall and people withhold spending as they wait for prices to drop further, a familiar idea to those following the recent housing market.

When it comes to public jobs, many of these cuts may be justified, as we’ve seen many examples of inefficiencies in the public sector. In that sense some of these adjustments are good for the overall economy in the long run.

That said, many of these cuts are painful, and this won’t help get the economy moving in the short term.

Building a Better Career Through Online College Programs

Tired of that dead-end job that seems to be leading you nowhere? Tired of seeing your friends take advantage of their education while purchasing a new home or vacationing to some exotic location? Tired of putting money into that rusted out, car that you’ve been nursing along for the last hundred thousand miles?

If you have questions or concerns on the direction your education is taking your career, then it might be time to investigate the possibilities of improving your life with online college programs.

With improvements in teaching and technology over the last decade, there are now thousands of accredited universities across the country that offer online learning. The scope of learning from these institutions teaches everything from business to online Culinary management programs. Other programs that millions of career minded individuals are studying online include: Nursing, Accounting, Engineering, Communications, Computer Science, Meteorology and Information Technology.

Furthering your education can be as easy as spending several night per making a commitment to your education. In order to better prepare oneself in today’s selective job market, those that consider improving their education have an advantage over those that do not.

Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the number of institutions that offer online learning. For those looking to better themselves through education, don’t just start finding your career without some investigation. The internet is a plentiful source of information for these cyber, learning institutions. By spending a few hours perusing the kind of degrees available, and the leaning institutions that offer those degrees, you may be able to narrow your education focus and complete your degree faster.

Spending some time prior to your education experience will help narrow your career options. If you minimize the time pursuing your education, you will be earning the money you think you deserve in a career that you love.

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