From The Admissions Overreach Desk . . .

David Halperin of Republic Report says that a California campus of for-profit Everest College admitted a student who read at a third grade level.  Yes, that’s right:  a college admitting a student who read at a third grade level!  The school’s librarian discovered this, and reported it to both the College and to the California Attorney General – but neither responded.  That must mean that the school is a mom-and-pop shop, right?  Wrong.  Everest College is a branch of Corinthian Colleges, one of the largest for-profit school companies in America.

This is yet another example of the for-profit school industry’s relentless focus on enrolling students.  For-profit school costs are largely fixed, so the tuition of every additional student that sales representatives enroll goes straight to the bottom line.  That creates a poisonous situation where the schools are more interested in selling enrollments than in providing a quality education or enrolling appropriate students.  As Jordan Weissman wrote in his Moneybox blog on Slate, admitting a functionally illiterate student to college “seems illustrative of what can happen when you combine higher education with a pure profit motive.”  Well said, Jordan.

Apparently, Corinthian has said it “might refund” the student’s money if he drops out.  Does that really do it, though?  What about the humiliation he must feel about his difficulties with school?  What about the time he has lost attending it?  What about the recruiter who enrolled him?  Is he or she being fired, or put on a disciplinary program?  Is Everest training its recruiters to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again? Everest didn’t say anything about these items.

There is a smoking gun in the student’s file.  Everest administered the Wonderlic test before admitting him.  This showed aptitude at the equivalent of a fourth grade level.  California regulations state:  “An institution shall not admit any student who is obviously unqualified or who does not appear to have a reasonable prospect of completing the program.”  (5 C.C.R. 71770)  It seems to me that this is exactly what Everest did.  The California Attorney General is already suing Everest’s parent, Corinthian Colleges, for violating educational statutes.  I hope she adds this to her case – it would be pretty straightforward to include a claim for anyone who was admitted whose Wonderlic score showed aptitude of, say, eighth grade or below.  It used to be that private lawyers could do this, in a class action.  But, Everest has insulated itself from class actions, and thus there is nothing a private lawyer can do to fix the problem for everyone.  This gutting of class actions is a scandal that has gone largely unnoticed by most people.  For more information on it, read here:  http://www.shulmanlawfirm.com/56/supreme-court-says-yes-to-let-the-buyer-beware/.

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