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In a conference call at the end of her training, she and other instructors were told they would have 60 students. “There was shocked silence. People gasped,” she says. The maximum practical number for a writing class is 22. “Personal interaction is completely lacking in the online environment. Sitting next to somebody cannot exist in the online atmosphere.”

“If you don’t sell enough, you are quickly disciplined,” says a former San Diego telemarketer for Bridgepoint. “We tell students that you have to stay in school because if you don’t, you won’t get the financial aid [from the government].”

“The pressures on enrollment advisers to perform is ridiculous,” says one former student recruiter. “The ability [of the potential student] to service debt is not a consideration. The spiel is [that] six months after graduation, you will be able to get a job to pay back student loans.” Of course, the huge buildup of unpaid student loans proves that is not true.

Rodriguez insists that such statements “are simply not true.” Enrollment advisors are given intensive training and disciplined or fired if they use high-pressure techniques.

The Department of Education will pass judgment on that statement. So may the stock market.

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Visduh July 8, 2010 @ 9:51 a.m.

For as long as there have been diplomas, there have been diploma mills around to make it easy to "earn" a degree by paying big fees to the issuer. What we are seeing here is just the latest version of the process, clothed in accredited colleges owned by a large corporate entity. At least the profit motive of these operations is out in the open; the usual approach has been disguised as some sort of non-profit institution.

In the 60's and 70's we were treated to the "college without walls" approach. Read a textbook or two, write a paper, send it in, and get credit for completing a course of study. Some of those operations had provisional accreditation and some had none whatsoever.

Then in the late 70's, locally, we had National University founded to "make education more accessible." Some of the instructors really took the task seriously while others saw through the smokescreen. The real issue with that operation was the strcture of the study. An academic term was one month, four weeks actually. For a full five credit course, it required sitting in class from 5:30 until 10:00 two evenings a week, and also putting in a full eight hour day one Saturday, and four hours another. That was a total of nine hours a week for four weeks, 36 hours, and then an additional 12 hours on weekends, for a total of 48 class hours in four weeks. Applying the usual ratio of two hours minimum preparation for every hours in class, that meant the student needed to be spending a total of 144 hours in the four weeks, or an average of 36 hours every week. That for a "working adult"! Absolutely impossible for nearly anyone with a life outside study and work. My own experience had the instructor use the Saturdays as test days, wherein we took the test home, did the work at home, and then turned it in at the end of the day. So much for those hours being spent in class. Who was attending National U? Most all I met there were service members who had the Navy and Marines paying the full freight. The rest seemed to have private employers who were willing to pick up the tab. It was no surprise to note that NU's largest presence was in San Diego (with its huge naval and Marine presence) and Sacramento (which then had two large Air Force facilities.)

At least NU wasn't getting the majority of its students to go deeply in debt to pay the school. These operations now are really "doing it" to the students. They come out with a fairly useless degree--who believes that an on-line "education" is equivalent to attending a conventional four-year university?--and a huge debt burden that will be impossible to ever pay off.

So, yes this is the "scandal du jour" in the making, and we'll hear a lot more about it in the future. One also should wonder just what those faculty members think of the whole thing, trying to educate students they never see.

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 10:22 a.m.

Response to post #1:Yes, this is a huge scandal that is just now piercing public awareness. I have now done three pieces (one blog item, two columns) on Bridgepoint within a short period of time. I hope to expand into some of the other for-profit colleges and the boiler rooms they are operating. Some for-profit colleges, I realize, are legitimate. For example, an online university giving a degree in a field for technicians may be doing a real service. But others are boiler rooms that are feasting off U.S. government dollars. National University was really in a different category. Students went to a class, and as you say, worked hard. I don't believe that it depended to an extraordinary degree on government-backed student loans and grants. (I may be wrong on that.) But some real scandals are beginning to surface. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource July 8, 2010 @ 1:52 p.m.

Maybe this is totally wrong, but I believe that prospective students past high school would be greatly served by a minimalistic preparatory experience in intensive research skills would greatly reduce the cost of educating adults in this country. That, and a reasonable use of colleges' course challenge policies.

Once students are taught how to do research, recognize legitimate sources of academic information, and write legible research papers, they ought to be able to amass sufficient background in any subject on their own to effectively challenge courses, reducing their costs in obtaining degrees.

After all, the Internet isn't just for twitter-heads...

Basic math skills couldn't hurt; being able to make and attach charts of various sorts always seems to add some sort of authoritative flair to one's academic work.

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kensal July 8, 2010 @ 2:09 p.m.

I'm glad to see you finally got the perspective of the University in question instead of the pure slander from your previous stories

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SurfPuppy619 July 8, 2010 @ 6:36 p.m.

Good article!

It is straight up fraud.

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 8:19 p.m.

Response to post #3: Trouble is, there are so many different kinds of research. And recognizing legitimate sources of academic information is no easy task. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 8:20 p.m.

Response to post #4: In the last column on Bridgepoint just a few weeks ago, I put in the company's point of view, just as I did this time. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 8, 2010 @ 8:22 p.m.

Response to post #5: It will be interesting to see what the inspector general of the DOE says. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 8, 2010 @ 8:46 p.m.

The DoE should have shut thes clowns down 4 years ago.

The real test on the effectiveness of the school is a simple one;

How much of the student loan debt has been paid back after 2, 5, 8, 10 year intervals. DoE does not track that fater the first two years. If the default rate is over 20% the school is not doing it's job.

The national default rate for student loans today is over 40%, for certain HBCU's it can go over 50%. One reason is the scams associated with forcing defaults on students, driving up the loan's "costs and fees". So a $1K loan can be turned into a $25K loan. Of course the only reason Sallie Mae, Nelnet and other student loan scammers can get away with this BS is the unconstitutional laws they have gotten passed by a corrupt Congress so they can engage in this fraud with basically impunity.

One of the expert witnesses I used extensively in student loan litigation is the guy that runs this website;

www.studentloanjustice.org

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 6:38 a.m.

Response to post #9: I agree this is a scam, a scandal, but I am not sure that the national default rate on student loans is 40%. I would like to know how that is calculated. Best, Don Bauder

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pellis July 9, 2010 @ 9:34 a.m.

Re: Visduh

My fiancé got her Masters at National University and did all of her classes online. It's exactly like you said, there's no way to do it and have any kind of social life whatsoever. 100% of her time away from her full-time job was spent doing school work or studying. I'm not in her field (accounting), but it sure seemed to me as rigorous as any University experience I've ever had. On top of what seemed to be challenging material and exams, her classes were all mandatory with roll call and everything. For the record, we are not in the military, nor did she mention anything about her classmates being mostly military, but I suppose that could vary between fields.

As for the article, I hope any universities using hard-selling techniques are revealed as such. I advocate education for people interested in going to college. We could probably do a better job in high school of teaching all students what to look for and what to avoid in higher education. In addition to falling for the hard selling techniques of questionable schools, there are thousands of students in very prestigious universities working hard for degrees that society has little or no practical use for.

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 11:06 a.m.

Response to post #11: Hard sell college recruitment techniques are particularly pernicious when it is the U.S. taxpayer paying the freight, as it is in these cases. Best, Don Bauder

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MsGrant July 9, 2010 @ 11:27 a.m.

Don't you think the advent of this type of education is indicative of the need to have a college degree to get a job now? You have to have a degree to sweep floors. Young people are desperate, and community college classes fill up so quickly you can't even get a tennis class. I just read yesterday about a manager who says he only hires graduate students. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, with easy credit extended to those who can least afford it. I am not saying it is ethical, but it is exactly like the housing market and the subsequent sub-prime mortgage industry. Get people to believe that a degree will buy them a better future and make it really easy to purchase, and they will flock to these schools. And they can't foreclose on your degree. At least a house has some value, even if it's considerably less than the original balance. There is little to no incentive to not default on your student loan, unless you are getting a degree in finance, where your credit history may be a job factor. The securitization of these loans is crazy. They are the epitome of non-performing assets.

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SurfPuppy619 July 9, 2010 @ 12:17 p.m.

I agree this is a scam, a scandal, but I am not sure that the national default rate on student loans is 40%. I would like to know how that is calculated.

If you go to the link I posted;

www.studentloanjustice.org

It is right there on bottom of the front/opening page-and these default rates are from the gov's Office of Inspector General, and these rates are actually biased on the LOW side.

Senior Policy Analyst Erin Dillon from Education Sector in Washington D.C. has published the most comprehensive default rates that there are, from the gov's own statistics and they are HIGHER than the rates from the Office of Inspector General (IG default rates for "for profit" schools= 44%, which is biased on the low side).

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 1:15 p.m.

Response to post #13: Young, middle age and old people are all desperate now, and are vulnerable to unethical pitches about how a college education will make them rich and able to repay the loan. Enrollment in these for-profit colleges goes up as the economy goes down -- not surprisingly. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 1:18 p.m.

Response to post #14: Without going to the sites you cite, I'll accept those numbers unless I come across different information. It is shocking. Best, Don Bauder

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a2zresource July 9, 2010 @ 2:34 p.m.

RE #6:

My experience is that it actually doesn't take all that long for insightful students to be fair-or-better judges of sources of questionable quality. This ability to recognize doubtful sources is sped up when they work in groups having access to objective standards for academic or professional writing submissions to peer-reviewed journals.

With community colleges being the main entry point for adults looking to upgrade résumés while those same institutions are cutting back on course offerings, something has to give. The easiest, least expensive option (in terms of tax-money expenditures) is for students to self-study then challenge the low-end academic prerequisites, moving themselves ahead of those who shun the course-challenge option.

As for those students who fall prey to the TV ads telling them they can have a degree and a job in only a few months at Non-Accredited Tech: Let the buyer beware.

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nan shartel July 9, 2010 @ 3:09 p.m.

hey Pooh...i'm not desperate

but then i got u to guide me thru those woods

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 4:29 p.m.

Response to post #17: If students working in groups can become judges of questionable sources, why do we have the Congress we have, why are some of the largest states bankrupt, why are we fighting two purposeless wars, why do we have the Tea Party movement....etc., etc.?? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 9, 2010 @ 4:31 p.m.

Response to post #18: I have no sense of direction. I couldn't guide you anywhere. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 9, 2010 @ 6:08 p.m.

As for those students who fall prey to the TV ads telling them they can have a degree and a job in only a few months at Non-Accredited Tech: Let the buyer beware.

They problem is they go after poor people with little to no sophistication on the student loan issue/s-their targeted victims are ignorant of the scam, don't know better and fall prey. If they could discharge the scam loans because of the fraud and their lack of knowledge, or there was a statute of limitations on the loans, then I might agree-but that is not the case.

No, I cannot agree with "let the buyer beware" when it is a fraud.

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a2zresource July 9, 2010 @ 8:38 p.m.

RE #19:

Maybe it's because members of Congress and state legislatures have been "promoted" to their level of incompetence?

http://www.worldcat.org/title/peter-principle/oclc/2211

I can't explain the inner workings of the Tea Party movement: I'm an Independent voter now and not one of those in the loop.

RE #21:

I really can't agree with it either, in principle. Seriously. But for the many who don't/won't read Mr. Bauder's blog posts/articles and the comments that follow, they are kind of already shortchanging their educations in a practical dollars-&-sense way, are they not?

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Visduh July 9, 2010 @ 10:11 p.m.

Response to #11:

My observations of NU go back, I have to admit, almost 25 years. Many things about that operation have doubtlessly changed over those many years. But I still don't think that it is possible to earn a legitimate MBA in 18 months while employed full time, and that is just what was going on then.

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Don Bauder July 10, 2010 @ 7:12 a.m.

Response to post #21: Caveat emptor is good advice but it is lousy law. Con artists and their associates are very clever and rake in big bucks from the ignorant, and particularly from mentally frail old people. The law has to intervene. In the subject under discussion, if a for-profit college is essentially a boiler room, preying on vulnerable people who won't get a meaningful degree and may never be able to repay their debt, then it is up to the federal government to cut off the funds, thus in essence closing the faux educational institution down. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 10, 2010 @ 7:19 a.m.

Response to post #22: It's the Peter Principle, the media, a whole bunch of factors responsible for Palin, Vitter, Ensign, Angle, Sanford ad nauseam. Voters remember their names. They just don't remember why. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh July 10, 2010 @ 8:53 a.m.

Today's U-T has a short piece on the business page announcing that J. Joseph Hoey IV has been named "vice president of institutional effectiveness and accreditation" at Bridgepoint Education. How's that for a name? How's that for a title? And just what does a VP of institutional effectiveness do at an operation like Bridgepoint? What he SHOULD do is move in the direction of making those degrees they sell into something that are actually worth the price. Nevahappen! This is probably a move taken in response to all the scrutiny of Bridgepoint, but whether it will help them deal with a likely cutoff of federal funding is unclear. Can't wait to learn what happens next.

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Don Bauder July 10, 2010 @ 12:50 p.m.

Response to post #26: There is some thought that the government may go easy on Bridgepoint and other for-profits under investigation because the administration wants to be able to boast about the high percentage of people getting college degrees. We'll have to see. The student loan debt scandal is billowing out of control. It won't help to ignore it. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 11, 2010 @ 12:57 p.m.

My observations of NU go back, I have to admit, almost 25 years. Many things about that operation have doubtlessly changed over those many years. But I still don't think that it is possible to earn a legitimate MBA in 18 months while employed full time, and that is just what was going on then.

I can tell you my experiences at National back in the mid 80's when I took teacher credentialing classes there-it was a sham. 100%, fully certified scam.

I never bought a single book, did NO homework, did no papers, just took the tests-one mid term and one final per class. I recevied "A"'s in every single class. As did 90% of the class. These were "graduate" level teacher ed classes.

NU was a "pay for your A" diploma mill then, I bet it still is. The ONLY thing they had going-and why teacher wannabes enrolled- was you could do the credential in less than half the time you could at SDSU with 1/100th of the work. I'm not lying. At SDSU you would have to put in a few hundred hours of study time PER CLASS to get a passing grade.

The NU classes at that time were $500 each. The extra money you spent on the classes ($4-$5K) would easily cover itself in the extra year of work you would be able to secure while everyone else at SDSU- in the real teacher ed program- was still in the teacher ed classes.

The difference in the education you received at National as compared to SDSU (the top cal-state university) would be like comparing a go-kart to an Indy 500 race car. Night and day.

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Don Bauder July 11, 2010 @ 4:32 p.m.

Response to post #28: We are certainly getting widely diverse assessments of National University three decades ago. Best, Don Bauder

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quarterlunch July 12, 2010 @ 1:22 p.m.

Don;

Where'd you pull this number from?

"85 percent of the company’s revenue comes from Title IV student grants and loans provided by the federal government under the Higher Education Act."

I thought there was a cap at 80%.

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witte3616 July 12, 2010 @ 7:43 p.m.

Now hold on just a minute here. I am currently a very hard working student at Ashford University in a BA Psychology program. I also hold down a full-time job at an Ivy League university that I could never afford to attend, even as an employee. They recently drastically cut their tuition program for staff, and I was really glad that I wasn't going to their university. It would take me about 15 years to complete a 4-year degree at the new rate of tuition reimbursement I would receive. Therefore, I could toil away for 15 years at a "prestigious" college, or finish my BA degree at AU in about 3 years. At the end of the day, recruiters and HR people tell me what matters most is that I have a degree, rather than where I earned it.

By my own measure, the courses at A.U. are rigorous enough at 5 weeks, and each course has an 8 to 10 page final paper that makes up a large portion of the final grade. A friend of mine just graduated from Penn State and she said it seemed that I was working way harder than she did on her courses, especially in comparison to the amount of writing that is required at A.U., and the amount of discipline that is required to keep moving forward in an online format. It can be a lonely road, and there's no one prodding me along but myself.

I take offense to some of what is being said here; primarily, the comments that allude to a degree from A.U. not having any value. Secondly, I oppose the blanket statements that are made here that cast A.U. as substandard diploma mill for dummies. Over three thousand students graduated this spring from A.U. with BA degrees. This is the largest graduating class in the school's history as A.U. Further, I have attended both traditional and online colleges, and I find that there are good and bad students and good and bad professors in both online and traditional schools.

AU is an accredited university and that's what I have to focus on in the face of this "pending scandal". There are plenty of people that graduate with six-figure debt from Ivy League institutions that are sitting on the unemployment line, AND they can't write a proper sentence. When I graduate from A.U., I will have about 40k of debt, which is about the price of a new Acura MDX crossover vehicle. In comparison to tuition at Ivy League and private colleges that can run $40k for one year, I really don't think this is going to ruin me. I would rather have $40k in debt instead of $100k+ from your so-called better colleges, with no guarantee of landing a job in this tough economy from either institution.

I have rambled a bit here, but I think I have made a few good arguments in favor of A.U. No, they aren't the greatest school out there, but I am generally satisfied with their product and I wouldn't count them out just yet!

jmpwitte

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Don Bauder July 12, 2010 @ 9:13 p.m.

Response to post #30: That number comes from Bridgepoint's most recent 10-K and 10-Q. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 12, 2010 @ 9:21 p.m.

Response to post #31: The key statistic is that students at for-profit colleges represent 10% of total students but 25% of government aid, 44% of loan defaults, and 70% of criminal investigations by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Education. Best, Don Bauder

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witte3616 July 13, 2010 @ 3:07 a.m.

Response to dbauder: These are interesting statistics, but what should one do with this information who is a student at A.U.? The value of statistics comes from their use. Without a call for action, these statistics are pointless. Beyond increasing awareness, what are you suggesting? Please bring it down to an individual level, to a student's perspective please. I have already invested nearly 3 years of my life into this degree program at A.U., so I'm very interested in what is being discussed here, but so far, no one has provided any actionable information. Should I write Congress? Should I ask for a refund and give it back to Uncle Sam?

Is it that people who make money from traditional educational models are possibly feeling threatened by A.U.'s success? I am reminded of a quote from an entertainment industry icon, H.M. Warner (Warner Bros.) In 1927, Warner infamously said "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" when another studio first released a film with sound. File that one under bad predictions. History is filled with them. Perhaps this is the same thing that's going on here. Perhaps people are feeling threatened by the shifting paradigm toward online learning and that maybe they are wishing that they had jumped on the bandwagon. Moreover, perhaps edu. traditionalists are feeling threatened that their piece of the pie is shrinkning? Since they are on the outside looking in, they'll stand on the sidelines and shoot poison arrows. Just an opinion here, but innovators are often initially looked up on as being a threat to existing norms.

Thoughts?

Witte3616

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Don Bauder July 13, 2010 @ 7:04 a.m.

Response to post #34: Yes, I have definite thoughts. The student debt problem is billowing out of control. These debts are securitized much in the way that subprime mortgages were. Since for-profit colleges are responsible for such an inordinately large part of this bad and potentially bad debt, responsible educators want to rein in the program before the hurricane hits. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 13, 2010 @ 12:01 p.m.

Should I write Congress? Should I ask for a refund and give it back to Uncle Sam?

LOL...good luck with that!

Sorry, but it's not our fault you've been had.

What you might want to do is file a fraud complaint against these shysters after you graduate, can't get a job and are $100K in the hole of non dischargeable debt, where the loan holders can force you into a defaut and then you will owe 100 times that $100K-all nondischargeable, no statute of limitations and no due process on wage or property attachment.

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SurfPuppy619 July 13, 2010 @ 12:03 p.m.

Just an opinion here, but innovators are often initially looked up on as being a threat to existing norms.

LOL.....And fraudstirs always try to claim they are "innovators".

PT Barnum was right, there is a sucker born every minute!

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SurfPuppy619 July 13, 2010 @ 12:08 p.m.

I am reminded of a quote from an entertainment industry icon, H.M. Warner (Warner Bros.) In 1927, Warner infamously said "Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" when another studio first released a film with sound.

Wow, you're full of little gold nuggets!

Actually the first "talkie" WAS made by Warner Bros- in 1927-in their well known film "The Jazz Singer".

Waner Bros. and their patented Vitaphone technology allowed this first feature film to have sound all the way through it.

I don't let the facts get in the way of a good whopper though.

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Don Bauder July 13, 2010 @ 12:11 p.m.

Response to post #36: The inability to discharge the government debt is the killer. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 13, 2010 @ 12:14 p.m.

Response to post #37: They use innovative methods to separate people from their money. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 13, 2010 @ 12:17 p.m.

Response to post #38: And Watson predicted that only a handful of people would ever want a computer. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 13, 2010 @ 12:17 p.m.

At the end of the day, recruiters and HR people tell me what matters most is that I have a degree, rather than where I earned it.

OMG, how did I miss this one!!!!!!

At the end of the day by far the most important aspect of a degree is the institution where you received it-NOT whether you have a degree or not. By your logic a degree from a dimploma mill is worth something (it's not).

Here, please read these blogs-they cover law schools but it applies to any degree;

http://bigdebtsmalllaw.wordpress.com/

http://www.notolawschool.com/2010/07/cpas-considering-law-school.html

http://jdunderdog.blogspot.com/2010/07/100000-rednecks.html

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Don Bauder July 13, 2010 @ 12:20 p.m.

Response to post #42: An HR person who tells you that should be fired. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 13, 2010 @ 9:42 p.m.

Response to post #45: You see, back in the 1920s Goldman Sachs was actually helping the economy grow. Now it just engages in financial engineering to fatten its own accounts. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 13, 2010 @ 10:01 p.m.

Yes, there were shorts that had sound, but the Jazz Singer was the first full length picture to have it.

Same with color, there were shorts that had color going back to the 1900's, 1910's, but the first feature length color film was in the late teens, a silent pic.......................Gone with the Wind and the Wizard of Oz were the first MAJOR films to use color, but not the first by a long shot.

WB bought Vitaphone. WB were the ones that brought it to the masses. It was basically a record that played along with the movie.....

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Don Bauder July 14, 2010 @ 6:21 a.m.

Response to post #46: Didn't organs play during some movies and during intermissions at the early movies? I know that was true in opera intermissions. Back in baroque days, George Frederic Handel would have his organ concerti -- great works by the way -- playing during intermissions of his operas, many of which were the greatest ever written. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 14, 2010 @ 6:24 a.m.

Response to post #47: That's information I would never have known. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 14, 2010 @ 6:57 p.m.

Response to post #50: Sounds like you might have some valuable antiques there. But if you prefer to donate to a charity, that is your privilege. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 14, 2010 @ 10:11 p.m.

Response to post #52: I know what you mean. We have a house full of antiques and won't part with any of them. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder July 19, 2010 @ 3:14 p.m.

When will San Diego’s Bridgepoint Education "Learn"?

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Don Bauder July 19, 2010 @ 3:55 p.m.

Response to post #50: See post today on my Scam Diego blog. Stocks of Bridgepoint and other for-profit colleges soared today on a rumor that the Department of Education will go easy on them on new rules covering students' eligibility for receiving federal money. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 19, 2010 @ 4:05 p.m.

Student lending the the new sub prime mortgage meltdown.

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Don Bauder July 19, 2010 @ 5:38 p.m.

Response to post #52: Very possibly. Best, Don Bauder

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Clarissa July 21, 2010 @ 5:01 p.m.

To the person who said, "I take offense to some of what is being said here" Yeah, I would too, with statements like, "They problem is they go after poor people with little to no sophistication..." apparently that's YOU and your cohort.

To the person who wondered what to do about it, and to Don who said inability to discharge the debt is the key issue, The Project on Student Debt is trying to do something about it.

Let's Push for Bankruptcy Protection The House Higher Education Act reauthorization bill is set to go the floor later this week. It includes much of our Private Loan Policy Agenda, but one important piece is still missing: the ability to discharge high-risk, high-cost private loans in bankruptcy like other kinds of consumer debt. An amendment offered by Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) would add this provision to the bill. Even if you've written before, now is the time to send a strong message to your Member of Congress that private loan borrowers need this basic consumer protection.

Please urge your representative to support the Davis Amendment.

For background, see this article from Higher Ed Watch: A Gaping Hole

http://projectonstudentdebt.org/update_2508.vp.html

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Don Bauder July 21, 2010 @ 7:34 p.m.

Response to post #54: I don't know enough about the Davis Amendment to make a statement one way or another, but I think it's possible that if the students could discharge this debt in bankruptcy court, the for-profit colleges may become even more brazen. Indeed, it could become part of their pitch to entice students to enroll and get into debt. Best, Don Bauder

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Clarissa July 21, 2010 @ 8:33 p.m.

I don't completely disagree with you. Just pointing it out since you said that was a big issue. However, it does not apply just to for profits, as you know, many graduates from all sorts of schools find themselves out of work and without prospects.

For students, the option to file for bankruptcy rather than watch their loans double or triple and in effect make them lepers in society is not a bad one. If we are going to allow bankruptcy for the big corporations who screwed everyone over, why not students who just got a degree? I think bankruptcy has consequences dire enough to not exactly be a selling point. I wanted to point out one additional thing: almost all of these schools are offering graduate programs. This requires the attendee to have already graduated from college. Thus, I would not characterize (at least) these people as "unsophisticated" or succumbing to the allegedly all powerful enrollment counselor, seeing as they have already gone through the whole gamut of administrative experiences with colleges. They for sure know it is NOT free and that most people have to take out loans to make it through. Anyway, I'm not sure divesting thousands of people of their investment in their education and putting thousand of employees from these school out of work, whilst simultaneously killing the tax contributions to the city and state is the answer. Will this really cause a savings to the taxpayers in the end? Presumably, that is why the witch hunt has not come to a swift end. I believe it was one of the Congressmen during the hearings that said they must be careful to take a scalpel to the regulations, not a machete. People on here saying "shut it down" and calling people naive as they ram their view down their throats, they just sound like people who say "just nuke the whole middle east." Its just not that simple. And you finally got some people on here saying they enjoyed their experience, and did not feel the debt was exorbitant, but what real answer or consideration did they receive? None, because of course the whole tilted view is, they must be stupid to have gone to that school to begin with. Well, hopefully this will all resolve itself naturally, without the likes of Eisman short selling to resolve it in his own favor to make millions while he puts everyone else out of work and school.

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Don Bauder July 22, 2010 @ 7:54 a.m.

Response to post #56: There is a bigger question, as you know: does our society have some kind of obsession about college degrees? Are we turning out too many college graduates -- and lowering standards to achieve that? Best, Don Bauder

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Clarissa July 22, 2010 @ 5:49 p.m.

Issues are getting crossed. I don't believe it is for those of us fortunate enough to have had the traditional path open to us to decide to keep others out. It is elitist. The money is a big problem, but the human element should not be lost. There are a whole lot of people in this country, but not a whole lot of opportunity for things to do - should they become day laborers if they don't have 4.0 gpas from the top highschools, or what? I don't have the answers, but overall, I don't think churning out college graduates is the worst thing that can happen to our country. People need something to do and I would rather they were studying something than deciding who to rob or sitting around feeling sorry for themselves and thus becoming hateful non-contributors.

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Don Bauder July 22, 2010 @ 8:19 p.m.

Response to post #58: Churning out excessive college grads, and lowering the standards in the process, is not the worst thing that can happen to the U.S. But, depending on how the education debt burgeons, it could be deleterious. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister July 22, 2010 @ 9:16 p.m.

Don, when you say "excessive" college grads, do you mean that fraction which haven't actually earned them or that you think some limitation should be placed upon graduates, such as some number that would match the number of "positions" requiring that level of education?

Are you being as responsive to Clarissa as you should, or is all this correspondence just wearing you out or wearing thin, or what? I can imagine that you could be exhausted by the sheer volume of comments, not to mention thinking about their content as well as juggling phone calls and other research for the next piece. I never cease to be amazed at your productivity; you are a real jewel of a citizen, and far better educated than most with comparable degrees.

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Don Bauder July 23, 2010 @ 8:11 a.m.

Response to post #60: The way to put a de facto limitation on college grads is to raise academic standards much higher than they are now. Also, the governmental subsidies to students (loans, grants, etc.) should be revisited. There is entirely too much political and economic pressure on society producing college grads. Best, Don Bauder

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DX July 23, 2010 @ 10:50 a.m.

Thank you, Don Bauder, for your always insightful and entertaining posts and columnizings (is that a real word?).

When watching television one day I came across a program having a profile of billionaires. One of them was asked by the interviewer to let the viewer in on a "billionaire's secret." The billionaire's reply was unexpectedly simple. I'll leave that for another discussion but will say it had nothing to do with attending any kind of schooling or need for any academic credential. On a different note, the first "talkie" is credited with being "The Jazz Singer." The interesting thing about that moview is that that movie was a not a "talkie" from beginning to end as I had expected. The first movie to have sound was in a movie released a year earlier, in 1926, that had a realistic sounding sword fight sequence. Probably restoration was done with a computer. Excellent! Bravo!

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Twister July 23, 2010 @ 1:35 p.m.

Does being a billionaire make one a superior human being?

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Clarissa July 23, 2010 @ 1:38 p.m.

All this time I thought the country was obsessed with money, and that was driving everything else.

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Don Bauder July 23, 2010 @ 7:36 p.m.

Response to post #62: The billionaire's secret was probably: "Other People's Money." Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 23, 2010 @ 7:38 p.m.

Response to post #63: The billionaires all think they are superior. They never made it through luck. It was always intelligence. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 23, 2010 @ 7:40 p.m.

Response to post #64: The young people are told that a college degree is a ticket to money. More often than not, it isn't. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 23, 2010 @ 8:29 p.m.

The young people are told that a college degree is a ticket to money. More often than not, it isn't.

It comes down to the cost/utility test.

What is the cost of the education and what will the education bring back in monetary value??? Not personal growth value, but monetary value.

Generally speaking, a college education today, even at a public college, does not return the value of the money and study time in vested (4-6 years for a BA/7-8 years for advanced degree) to be a monetary benefit.

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SurfPuppy619 July 23, 2010 @ 8:46 p.m.

I don't know enough about the Davis Amendment to make a statement one way or another, but I think it's possible that if the students could discharge this debt in bankruptcy court, the for-profit colleges may become even more brazen. Indeed, it could become part of their pitch to entice students to enroll and get into debt.

No, that would not work b/c the default rate would exceed what DoE allows for SL funding, which I believe is 25%. So once enough students filed to discharge the bogus debt the for profit fraud scholol would be out of business.

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SurfPuppy619 July 23, 2010 @ 8:52 p.m.

People need something to do and I would rather they were studying something than deciding who to rob or sitting around feeling sorry for themselves and thus becoming hateful non-contributors.

By Clarissa

Yes, I love it when morons like me claim that those who point out FRAUD claim that others are "hateful non-contributors"!

Wow, anymore nuggets of gold you want to lay on me the Einstein of Education?

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SurfPuppy619 July 23, 2010 @ 9:07 p.m.

I don't think churning out college graduates is the worst thing that can happen to our country. .

By Clarissa

It is when the people are graduating from diploma mills like Ashford (where the degree/education is NOT worth the paper it is printed on), and Ashford has lied about employment stats, like UOP and every ABA law school in America has, and the student cannot pay back the student loan money borrowed, borrowed on the good faith assumption from the schools rigged employment stats, and the student is then driven into poverty.

YES, it is one of the worst things that can happen to this country, inducing the poor and ignorant into taking out tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans for an education that is worthless, despite your claims that this is not the "worst thing".

But then again you went to Cal, and UOP's law shcool (great area btw-as long as you're inside before dark) so you know everything there is to know about higher education. Thank you :)

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Twister July 23, 2010 @ 10:10 p.m.

"In other words: talk about the site content, not each other." --Reader moderator

I know someone who has taught at Community Colleges, a state university, a for-profit university, and a highly respected private university. This professor says that some students become indignant about grades less than an "A" in all those categories, but that the issue is least prominent at the community college level, increasing at the state university level, even more at the private (expensive, privileged) university, and yet more at the for-profit "institution." Some students from all of these have become successful, and this professor attributes that to the personal qualities of the students more than the institutions.

One elephant in the room with respect to the proliferation of for-profits is the fact that many students can't support a family and attend the state (very well-paid executive and administrative employees, plus profits to owners) or non-profit (highly-paid executive and administrative "employees") universities while holding down a job. If the other institutions made this possible, the for-profits (they are lean and mean, btw, with no frills--the better to profit by) would wither. They offer "concentrated" courses, which one could say are "abbreviated," but that may not be all bad. I know another professor who teaches one course with over 1,000 students--at a state university. Would I be better off in a "concentrated" course of, say 20?

While I must agree with Don that academic standards are not high enough, but neither is the respect of the culture for autodidacts and drop-outs. The degree is the ticket-to-ride, and the actual qualifications (ability to actually deliver) makes no difference for job-entry. At one time, managers and presidents started out selling newspapers or sweeping the shop-floor and worked their way up--NO MORE!

Then there's the damage that certification does--but let's not get into MBA's and other fakers further, but let's do get to the essential question of whether a college education should be more about providing compliant functionaries for the machines of government and commerce or more about facilitating the development of good human beings with useful abilities rather than grades and certificates (frequently obtained by cheating) and other arbitrary puffery--as they have increasingly become rather than an indication of exemplary PREPARATION for the further development of personal potential.

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Don Bauder July 24, 2010 @ 6:23 a.m.

Response to post #68: I believe I have read those stats, but I can't bless them. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 24, 2010 @ 6:26 a.m.

Response to post #69: I don't know that topic well: that's why I hedged my response. Since you have been involved in this area, I will take your word for it until somebody comes along and challenges it. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 24, 2010 @ 6:28 a.m.

Response to post #70: C'mon, SP. Don't you remember George Herbert Walker Bush wishing for a "kinder and gentler" America? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 24, 2010 @ 6:31 a.m.

Response to post #71: I can tell you that those who point out fraud get pejoratives thrown at them all the time. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 24, 2010 @ 6:33 a.m.

Response to post #72: Sorry, I don't know the alleged UOP tale you are referring to. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 24, 2010 @ 6:46 a.m.

Response to post #73: I quickly read -- but didn't study -- a newspaper story about a report indicating that the U.S. was in trouble because a number of other industrial countries had a higher proportion of its young people getting college degrees. Again, I have not read the study, or even read the newspaper story carefully. The conclusion seemed to be that because our ratio of college grads was lower, we are in trouble in the sciences, electronics, etc. I hardly think that is a logical conclusion. What would be more important for our competitiveness is turning out a high number of superior students, often with advanced degrees, from rigorous academic backgrounds. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 25, 2010 @ 7:40 a.m.

NOTE: This weekend's (July 24-25) Wall Street Journal has an op-ed piece defending for-profit colleges. It is by Henry Bienen, vice chairman of a for-proft and president emeritus of Northwestern. I believe that he mustered a lot of positive arguments without addressing the negatives sufficiently, but that's just my opinion. It is certainly worth reading. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 25, 2010 @ 10:08 a.m.

I said it before, now the US Senate agrees with me;

A boom in for-profit colleges may be a bust for taxpayers and students

July 25, 2010

Many drop out or find the programs aren't accredited, a Senate panel reports.

*Fees, often twice as much as at public universities, are often paid with federal loans, with a high default rate

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-colleges-profit-20100725,0,5673033.story

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Don Bauder July 25, 2010 @ 10:24 a.m.

Response to post #81: I didn't read LA Times piece. Anything new in it? Best, Don Bauder

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Clarissa July 25, 2010 @ 12:12 p.m.

SurfPuppy said:

"But then again you went to Cal, and UOP's law shcool (great area btw-as long as you're inside before dark) so you know everything there is to know about higher education. Thank you :)

Man, UOP doesn't have a law school- so if that is supposed to be some kind of insult - better luck next time. I did attend law school, and prior to law school I worked for UOP. And it WAS in a great area - and I loved it so much I stayed for years. You are babbling about what, exactly?

I was not referring to YOU as a hateful non-contributor. I had just finished reading about the man who was shooting at police in Oakland on his way to blow up the ACLU - the twice convicted bank robber parolee who said "the liberal agenda" made him do it. It's just all about you though, isn't it?

Calling me a bumbling moron - with SPAM? Eh? Wow. Well, perhaps you are a hateful non-contributor after all. Only you would have the answer to that statement. I won't outright insult you as you have so liberally done. Anyway, I was not even talking to YOU. This is Don's article, is it not? All you keep doing is posting the same info over and over, interspersed with insults. We get it, okay? The conversation does not begin and end with one perspective.

Anything else worthwhile you have to say? Oh yeah, "Now the Senate Agrees with Me." Wow, they must have been reading your posts, I'm sure it never crossed their minds before. . .

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Clarissa July 25, 2010 @ 2:28 p.m.

By the way, SurfPuppy, are you James from the ABA journal postings, by any chance? If not, you two should meet.

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SurfPuppy619 July 25, 2010 @ 4:22 p.m.

Man, UOP doesn't have a law school- so if that is supposed to be some kind of insult - better luck next time.

Oh really;

http://www.mcgeorge.edu/

Better to keep mouth shut and be thought the fool than to open mouth and remove all doubt :)

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SurfPuppy619 July 25, 2010 @ 4:39 p.m.

Calling me a bumbling moron - with SPAM? Eh? Wow. Well, perhaps you are a hateful non-contributor after all. Only you would have the answer to that statement. I won't outright insult you as you have so liberally done. Anyway, I was not even talking to YOU. This is Don's article, is it not? All you keep doing is posting the same info over and over, interspersed with insults. We get it, okay? The conversation does not begin and end with one perspective.

OK, I take back the "bumbling moron" comment.

But these for profit schools are scams, they are shysters ripping of the "poor and ignorant" (my words), and that is not a slam against the poor nor the ignorant, just the fact that they are being defrauded and being taken advantage of due to their ignorance of the fraud of these schools-through no fault of their own, but through the fraud of major for profit corporations, who are not only ripping off the poor and ignorant students (with bogus employment stats and starting/job wages/salaires) but ALSO the taxpayers who end up eating the bogus tuition costs and expenses through defaulted student loans that never had a chance to be paid back in the first place b/c the free market never supported the debt servicing costs of the education, as the Senate report points out.

75%-85% of lawyers coming out of law school today cannot find jobs. Yet there are are over 200 ABA law schools with at least 20 news ones in the last 8 years alone-many for profit and more dubious "non profits" (which pay their employees several hundred thousands of dollars in annual comp). Even one of the BEST law schools in the country, Michigan, is advising their graduates to go to INDIA!!!!! to get work;

http://abovethelaw.com/2010/06/we-knew-this-was-going-to-happen-michigan-encourages-law-grads-to-go-to-india/

And if that is NOT enough to make you see the light read THIS ONE;

http://abovethelaw.com/2010/07/the-job-market-is-even-worse-than-many-of-us-thought/

If these links do not tell you something is SERIOUSLY wrong then nothing will. If a lawyer from a TOP TEN PUBLIC LAW SCHOOL cannot pay back a student loan what do you think is going on at these "for profit" diploma mill schools??????

They CANNOT get jobs with the garbage they are getting fed, at tuition costs DOUBLE that of a decent state school (like U of MI. Law School).

And NO, I am not "James from the ABA journal postings". I post on "Above the Law" under "Guest";

http://abovethelaw.com/

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Clarissa July 25, 2010 @ 5:35 p.m.

I don't get it. Did UOP buy the school? Their website states, "University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law was established in 1924 and is a private institution." If UOP has acquired a lawschool, my mistake. But I never said I went there. I appreciate your withdrawing your insult. I have to believe you have personally had a bad experience with law school fueling your outrage. I am just presenting my view: I worked at a for profit, and I attended a tier 4 law school. It doesn't make me an Einstein on education, but it does allow me a valid basis on which to base my personal opinion, My experience has not been bad: I have written judicial opinions that are filed both in federal court and the Court of Appeal (CA) and I'm not even practicing yet. I have many contacts working on my behalf to get me in to the job I do want: a career clerkship. I have no doubt I will get there. In fact, I met with a federal judge who will soon be the chief judge and he assured me with my experience and references, I will be able to get one of the many openings expected as new district court judge openings are filled.
In the meantime, I will be working as a panel attorney and teaching. I am also already published and plan to publish more. In sum, the law degree has allowed me to do what I set out to do so far, so I can't complain. So, I'm just saying, your perspective is not the only valid one. Plenty of people are able to put their for profit (or low tier "non-profit") degrees to use. It is very bad that not all of them are so able, but I wouldn't shut down the whole industry because it does offer opportunity to many who otherwise would not have it for a variety of reasons. I am all for regulations passed by Congress, and I think their most recent announcement is a fair beginning to getting it under control.

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Clarissa July 25, 2010 @ 6:02 p.m.

Thanks crystalcove. I guess we have to wait for SP to let us know who had "Better to keep mouth shut and be thought the fool than to open mouth and remove all doubt."

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Clarissa July 25, 2010 @ 6:58 p.m.

No way! These internet forums get way too crazy and nasty for me to reveal any more than I already have, which I already regret having done. It is a small world in the real world.

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Don Bauder July 25, 2010 @ 7:10 p.m.

Response to post #82: I gave no information to suggest that anyone connected with the U.S. Senate reads this blog. Best, Don Bauder

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Clarissa July 25, 2010 @ 7:28 p.m.

Don, I was talking to SP that time. I was sarcastically saying the Senate must be reading SP's posts, not yours article or posts. Sorry for the confusion.

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Don Bauder July 25, 2010 @ 7:56 p.m.

Response to posts nos. 83-90: I'll step aside for this donnybrook, if you don't mind. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister July 25, 2010 @ 9:17 p.m.

Re 77:

I don't believe that I "alleged" anything with respect to UOP. I'm confused. "Alleged" and "tale" seem to imply something, but I can't be sure what it is.

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Twister July 25, 2010 @ 9:46 p.m.

There is no doubt a lot of good information in the vindictive posts, but the venom is obscuring it. I'm sure the participants are above such sandbox spats; don't y'all think it's time to show your maturity again and take the high road?

My sources in one top university (which includes a law school) tell me that while students sign an oath that they will not cheat, outright plagiarism is not punished--leading one to suspect that oaths, ethics, and the like add up to window-dressing. On one occasion a professor had me read an exemplary student paper; I searched a unique string and found the real author. The professor took action; the Dean took none. The student graduated.

How do the plethora of paper-writing sites stay in business? Some of them even plagiarize each other. Some put ****'s into the text to confound on-line searches. The samples I have read tend to be pseudo-intellectual drivel, but I can imagine that overworked professors give them at least a "B" for using the "right" terminology. How is any professor going to critically read 30 papers, much less several hundred?

I'm not arguing that nothing should be done about the for-profits; I am arguing that something be done about the rest too, and that the raised "standards" be in the quality of the institutions as well as the demands placed on the students.

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Don Bauder July 26, 2010 @ 6:19 a.m.

Response to post #96: If true, it is disheartening to learn that a university would catch a student plagiarizing and do nothing. Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel July 26, 2010 @ 1:28 p.m.

94

good idea Pooh.....

i'm just shaking my head here...

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Don Bauder Aug. 3, 2010 @ 3:47 p.m.

Response to posts #98 and 99: Obama doesn't want to destroy the for-profit sector but wants to protect it from itself. Interesting. Best, Don Bauder

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