Larkin said the college’s TV ads persuaded her to sign up for classes and take out considerable student loans.
“They just drew me in, they made it seem so simple in the commercials,” she said.
The ACICS, which granted Virginia College its national accreditation, has granted accreditation to many for-profit schools that have come under scrutiny for recruitment practices, high dropout rates, and academic standards.
The ACICS is known through higher education to have lax standards, said Courtney Choi, a staff attorney in the Mississippi Center for Justice’s Jackson office.
“Virginia College does not have accreditation that’s recognized by local employers her in Jackson,” she said. “There’s a lot of strengthening that needs to happen with regulations that are guiding these schools.”
Virginia College is among many for-profit schools that have lured students with targeted web-based ads.
In May, military veterans groups in officials complaints submitted to members of Congress said for-profit colleges had advertised via eMail, Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media outlets.
Along with electronic advertisements bombarding soldiers’ inboxes and social media accounts, the veterans advocacy group Veterans for Common Sense cited for-profit college recruiters signing up Marines with brain injuries and sailors who are not told that their for-profit college credits aren’t transferable to many traditional schools.
“This is not political, it is not about free enterprise, it is about right and wrong,” the group said in a statement.