THINK PROGRESS: The Inside Story Of How A For-Profit College Hoodwinked Students And Got Away With It

Career College Central Summary:

  • After car accidents and back surgery left her unable to work in 2000, Patricia Ann Bowers decided to make productive use of her new, medically-imposed free time. “I decided that, being disabled, I should go for my dream of having my college degree in marketing,” Bowers said.
  • Bowers, now 54, had worked in marketing for Piper Aircraft in Florida for six years before the accidents. At first the marketing degree “was just a thought in my mind,” but then she saw some TV commercials for Everest College and started to wonder if online classes could be the path she needed.
  • “Just out of curiosity I called them up. I really didn’t expect anything to happen from the phone call,” Bowers told ThinkProgress, but the school kept calling for weeks. “They told me they could accomodate me, that I had enough funding.”
  • And Everest — a brand belonging to for-profit education giant Corinthian Colleges — was quite accommodating indeed, at least at the start. She started working on her Associates’ Degree in 2011, and had moved on to Bachelor’s classes starting in 2013.
  • On Father’s Day, 2013, Bowers’ youngest son killed himself. He was just 34. In the months that followed, Everest’s accommodating attitude evaporated.
  • “I tried to get a leave of absence,” she said, but “they made me keep my participation up to keep from getting kicked out of school.” Everest has no leave-of-absence policy, everyone told her, so she’d just have to stick it out. “Everyone including my professors encouraged me to stay in school, but this is my child we’re talking about,” she said. “They’re telling me, he wouldn’t want you to let your school go, making me feel like I’d be letting my son down if I grieved for him, that my education was more important than losing my child.”
  • Staff swore Bowers would be able to retake the classes at no additional cost if she failed them, and insisted she’d be better off educationally and financially if she pushed through and scored all Fs than if she got booted from the semester. But none of that proved true.

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