Phoenix lifelong support promise should make you do your homework

By Dawn Cranfield

So, you want to be a Phoenix?

We have all seen the commercials from University of Phoenix (UOP) with the culturally diverse adult students luring us to get up from our couches and become a “Phoenix”.  UOP entices potential students with the idea that they can complete their coursework in less time than it would take to get a traditional degree, with the promise of lifelong alumni support.

In tumultuous times such as these where employers are laying off employees by the masses, where people are uncertain of their future at a company, or simply when a person might just want to upgrade their skills, UOP might look very attractive.  However, it would be beneficial to do your homework on this company before you sign up to do several years of homework.

UOP’s staff uses high pressure sales tactics to sign up as many students as possible, caring more about numbers and less about students and their academic  challenges than at a regular brick and mortar university.  Two employees sued the university for alleging that it paid enrollment counselors based on the number of students they enrolled.  In 2009, a $78.5 million settlement was reached, the largest ever in a whistleblower case.

So what about after you are enrolled in school?  “In Dallas, Richard Quiroga, 39, dropped out of his fifth Phoenix class last year after he couldn’t find a study group needed for his communication skills course.  So far, the school has called Mr. Quiroga only to get him to pay his bill for the course he dropped. The stay-at-home father has yet to hear from any counselors who could help him find a way to get the bachelor’s degree he wants. ‘They don’t really care,’ he says.” (http://www.kroplaw.com/uop/DallasMorningNews.040228.pdf)

I went to school there for four years and completed over 140 credits (you need 120 credits for a Bachelor’s Degree) lacking only a 3 credit humanities course for a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services Management.  After suffering quite a few substantial personal hardships, I went back to the school and applied to take those three credits to complete the degree.  I filed an appeal with a personal letter outlining what had happened in my life as required by the school to ask to pay for the course and apply for my degree, but was denied immediately.  There was no other process allowed.

After a few phone calls up to the top of the chain, I was told that there was nothing that would have been deemed allowable under their appeal process to finish a degree outside of the scope of completing it in the order originally outlined.  My question to them, why have an appeal process then?  I inquired, what if I had been in a coma? No.  What if I had been deployed?  Had I? No.  Then it does not apply.

I was offered the option of taking another 6 classes at almost $8K more dollars.  I declined, as I already have $40K in student loans.  I found their offer to be incredibly distasteful and would prefer to have my money returned.

While this may be a good time to go back to school for many, it is best to do your due diligence and check out the background of any school before you sign on the dotted line or send in your check.  If you want to feel like a Phoenix, you might want to think twice before you go to University of Phoenix.

 http://www.lieffcabraser.com/false-claims-act/case/70/university-of-phoenix

 http://www.kroplaw.com/uop/DallasMorningNews.040228.pdf

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