FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS TAKE A DIVE: Good riddance to Corinthian colleges



Andréa Duprée,
Copy Editor

“Get in, get out, get ahead.”

That’s what the well-produced commercial for one of the Corinthian Colleges’ 18-month programs declared. Aside from the snazzy commercials, Heald College had “dress for success” uniforms and the enrollment counselors were well versed in “you’re the perfect fit” persuasion. Going to school in slacks, a sharp blouse, high heels and a spiffy blazer made me feel like a paralegal before I even walked into my first class on Heald’s Hayward campus.

They even provided a rolly backpack with the school insignia on it chocked full of school supplies and my overpriced textbooks. Heald seemed to be the perfect choice for me, a young single mother looking for a good school to complete my paralegal certificate. Boy was I completely wrong. I got in, got out, but was far behind.

We were all swindled. Swimming in debt that we were tricked into by empty promises of an avenue into the career we were paying to start. ”

— Andréa Duprée

Attorney General Kamala Harris’ website describes Corinthian Colleges as “A for-profit company offering postsecondary education through its Heald, Everest, and WyoTech schools.” Heald had a popular medical assistant program, so when the commercial mentioned a paralegal program I was ecstatic.

In April 2015 the Department of Education slapped Corinthian Colleges with a $30 million fine for misrepresentation. The department said that the school misled students and loan agencies about the prospects for graduates to find jobs. One of the perks that roped me into Heald’s program was the promise of an internship in my last semester and job placement upon graduation.

Not only did I have to secure my own internship, but the first job I obtained as a paralegal was not from their program. After nearly a year of applying to law firms all over the Bay Area I reconnected with a family friend that was an attorney for an employment law firm and decided to give me a chance.

According to the Department of Justice’s website, “Corinthian misrepresented job placement rates to students and investors, advertised for programs that it did not offer, and subjected students to unlawful debt collection practices.”

Former classmate Samira Banuelos admitted she felt like “[Heald] was a waste of time and money.” Another former classmate of mine said she repaid nearly $17,000 in loans back but was advised by her boss not to continue to repay the loans when she heard about Corinthian being sued.

I saw an ABC News broadcast last week that stated a group called the Corinthian 100 has called a formal debt strike, meaning they are refusing to pay debt brought on by attending a Corinthian College.

We were all swindled. Swimming in debt that we were tricked into by empty promises of an avenue into the career we were paying to start. The debt I accrued from Heald is upwards of nearly $25,000 at an average interest rate of 6.4 percent. So as if piling crippling debt on top of myself in hopes of a brighter future was not enough, now I faced the betrayal of an institution that I trusted to prepare me.

So when a representative of Heald contacted me and asked me to sign a petition to keep the school open I literally LOL’d. My education at Heald was overpriced and underwhelming.
Yes I had a few good teachers, but overall the program did not prepare me for a real law office setting. The skills I have now after over three years of working in the legal field were learned because an attorney friend took me under her wing.

On April 26, CCi announced it’s full closure of all campuses effective April 27. According to CCi’s website, approximately 16,000 students have been displaced by the school closures. Due to my personal experience, I am worried for each and every one of those students. Especially since Corinthian is heavily relying on other institutions to accept their cruddy units.

Despite the fact that I had a 4.0 GPA my entire 18 months at Heald, I was turned away from Stanford, Santa Clara University and UC San Francisco when I applied for transfer because my units were not transferrable.

My fingers are crossed for the students because in my experience the school was not honest about the transferability of their course units. But apparently Corinthian is trying to find placement for all of the students and “those efforts depend to a great degree on cooperation with partnering institutions and regulatory authorities,” said the website.

I walked away from Heald with an Applied Associate of Science in Paralegal Studies. That may seem fancy, but I had to undergo paralegal boot camp because the attorney I worked for said Heald had taught me nothing. Ouch.

There is no way I would tell someone not to pursue higher education, or not to choose some sort of vocational or certificate program. What I will tell everyone choosing this option is, be diligent and do your homework.

Yes, the homework assigned to you in class. But not just that, you have to do all of the research you can prior to signing promissory notes for school loans and enrolling in classes at whichever institution you have chosen.

Do not just take the administrator or enrollment counselors word for it. Do the research yourself, ask a friend. Don’t make a hasty decision like I did. These days we have vast sources of information at our fingertips and almost everything on any institution of higher learning is public knowledge.

I am not at all happy about the students that were displaced during this debacle. Especially because I know how hard it is to commit to education. But I am happy that cursed chain of schools was traded off.

There is now a pending lawsuit being led by Attorney Harris against Corinthian Colleges. I hope she sues their pants off. I completed my program five years ago and I am still very bitter about the time and money I feel like I wasted at Heald. Corinthian schools are debt builders, time wasters and dream crushers. I’m glad they shut down.