Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), said that while Change.org’s stories wouldn’t serve as a counter to the for-profit industry’s Congressional lobbying power, the report could be a red flag to prospective Kaplan students doing a cursory Google search.
“Reports like this make [the for-profit college sector] look like consumer fraud as a business model … or consumer fraud on steroids because of public trading,” he said. “But these reports matter because the public becomes aware of how for-profits operate. And the only thing that will work against them is public embarrassment and scrutiny.”
The Kaplan student stories join a list of public charges made against the largest for-profit colleges, including a 2010 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that uncovered “deceptive or otherwise questionable statements” used by recruiters at 15 for-profit schools.
The GAO report has since been amended by the agency after criticism from Republicans and conservative think tanks and media outlets.
Still, Nassirian said, the myriad accusations lodged against Kaplan and other for-profits could impact enrollment at those institutions.
“The odds of [prospective students] being a little better informed is definitely higher,” Nassirian said. “And I hope they would be savvy enough to do a little research first to see that there’s evidence mounting that overselling and under-delivering has become the norm in [for-profit college] education.”
A spokesperson for Kaplan University did not respond to an eMail from eCampus News requesting comment on the Change.org campaign.