You know you’re a college student when you have a bone to pick with administration. You can’t get an appointment with your advisor quickly enough. Or maybe you can’t get financial aid to give you a straight answer about how much funding you’ll get next year and you find out that you‘re short of credits to graduate on time, leaving you to seriously wonder about the money, time and energy that you’ve invested into a college education. What if I told you that you probably actually have it easy compared to some students that have been seriously victimized by the institution of higher learning?

In February The Huffington Post published an article indicting Kaplan University for what has been termed “guerrilla registration,” which allegedly involves its advisors hacking into students’ e-mails in order to retrieve their passwords and covertly sign them up for classes.  Of course the university has denied utilizing this practice that involves registering students into classes without their knowledge, leaving them with surprise bills to pay that leads these victims into debt.

Several former Kaplan advisors have spoken out against the practice and have illustrated a picture of a conglomerate that pressures its advisors to meet a sales quota even though the for-profit university itself claims to be an educational haven for “higher risk students from lower-income backgrounds” that have been traditionally “overlooked by other institutions.”

While this news is shocking to some degree, it is not altogether surprising that yet another college has seen its undergraduates as consumers instead of valued students. Having transferred from a small private school to a large public institution, it tends to feel like the larger colleges treat their students like numbers.

While this is a bit of a pipe dream, we can only hope that colleges all around will begin to look within themselves and the practices they’ve been engaging in. I think corruption and fraud are the words we’re looking for here.

The Rolling Stone did a similar story on the plight of today’s college students and interviewed a former admissions counselor for a major for-profit school who said that, “The pressure to sign people incapable of doing the work was overwhelming.” This doesn’t surprise me in the least, considering that once I applied to a handful of colleges, some of them spent months leaving me voicemails and sending me mail at an attempt to get me to go to their schools.

To me, any school that was buttering me up way too much was a red flag. It’s possible that these academic advisors were just being a little overzealous but isn’t college supposed to be a little competitive? I always think there is something fishy about schools that heavily advertise themselves and practically beg students to sign on with them. It just makes me think that they’re trying to fill a quota and that the institution they work for is money hungry.

That being said, how much longer are students going to have to endure this sort of treatment? Are we valuable students that deserve to be treated as such or are we customers that are just emptying out our pockets for a system that doesn’t give us the time of day once we’ve handed them our money?


  1. I am an Admissions Advisor at Kaplan University and proud of it. The deceptive and unethical practices you outlined may have been true in isolated cases among unethical individuals. It is by no means the policy of the University or its Admissions Management. Kaplan no longer rewards advisors based on enrollment, and the practice of rewarding “retention”, which you described has been out of practice for almost 2 years.
    Kaplan University, like most for-profit online universities, provides a professional education service to adults who have full-time jobs, families to care for, career ambitions, etc. Many of our students have been unsuccessful elsewhere or have redirected their lives. Their drive and ambition are fulfilled in a convenient flexible online environment.

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