Persuasive speakers all have certain things in common. “It’s like they reach into us and ignite our hearts,” writes Evan Bailyn, professional keynote speaker extraordinaire. “Usually, it takes an issue—something an audience can believe in—to spark this type of fervor…they gathered the frustration, fear, and dissatisfaction. They articulated it in a way that made perfect, clear sense.” Jason Sobek may not be a professional speaker but he certainly has the ability to galvanize listeners. Why? His message is sincere, well informed and concerns a troubling issue that is that is plaguing American students.
Hopefully this blog isn’t starting to sound like a broken record when it comes to for profit schools. If you’re tired of hearing about this serious problem in our higher education system, well, there are thousands of college students who are wishing somebody had banged this particular drum just a little louder before they signed on for useless degrees and loans they wouldn’t be able to pay.
Thankfully, former admissions manager at the Education Management Corp. (EDMC), which is the second largest operator of for profit schools in the country, is outraged, inspiring him to speak up for students. Jason Sobek recently quit his job, but not before filing a whistleblower lawsuit again the institution. “They manipulated the job placement rates by counting students working in a job that they did not need the degree for,” Sobek told ABC News. “In my opinion, it’s a wretched fraud.” Sobek believes that the actions of the corporation were designed to purposefully and intentionally mislead students about the possibilities that would become open to them upon obtaining a degree from one of EDMC’s many satellite for profit schools. “It is intentional,” Sobek said to ABC News. “It’s the business model.” Sobek isn’t alone; he is one of many who have come forward to blow the whistle on for profits.
Interestingly, this is exactly the same situation in which many law school students have found themselves to be ensnared, resulting in any number of class action lawsuits across the country. In most cases the courts ruled against the students, however, the lawsuits did lead to exposure of wrongdoing on the part of the schools by intentionally misleading prospective students, resulting in changes to American Bar Association policy. Hopefully, Sobek’s words and the evidence he carried with him when he left EDMC will result in stronger action favoring students in this case. At the very least, we can hope for a similar outcome, perhaps resulting in some needed changes to accreditation policy.
The victims of highly effective and suspect marketing practices on the part of EDMC tend to be young Americans, working to make a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Instead, they either drop out or get stuck with a degree they can’t really use and huge pile of student debt for their trouble. Fortunately there are student aid organizations that can help borrowers manage their debt.