Friday, July 23, 2010

Giveaway Time: No Sucker Left Behind

Do you know a high schooler who is applying to college?  Are you applying to college?  Do you hate your alma mater and you can't put your finger on why?  Well, you need to read this book.

Even though I went to college a hundred of years ago, No Sucker Left Behind: Avoiding the Great College Rip-Off was a real education. It was an education on how my beloved college ripped me off and continues to rip off students every year. Had I known about some of the scams that colleges engage in to rip college students off, I may have broadened the scope of this blog. I actually was so focused on the big Law School Scam, that I had not thought about colleges and their lies that much at all.  

After reading this book, I realized that I had witnessed several of the scams first hand.

1. Bait and Switch Scholarship: The first year that I attended FYU (Fuck You University), I was given a scholarship based on ... hell, I didn't know. I had good grades in high school, so I assumed it was based on merit.  I filled out a FAFSA, and I got a scholarship.  At the end of first year, I filled out another FAFSA. I had a 4.0 (all of college actually)--so I assumed I would get the same financial package, but the scholarship was gone--POOF.  It was gone. I asked about it and I was told that it just wasn't available to me anymore. Classic bait and switch.  Give the freshman a great financial aid packages and pull out the rug from under them and they are stuck.  What are they going to do, transfer?

2.  FYU had an average sports team.  One year, the school made it to finals or playoffs or whatever they are called, and the next year, tuition went up by 20%.  As it turns out, the reason why schools give a shit about their sports team is NOT school spirit.  Rather, it's the greatest marketing tool ever.  If the team is doing great, then you can justify a hike in tuition.  Oh yah, alumna love to donate money to their schools when the sports team is doing well.

3.  Did you ever wonder why vital classes were offered only once a year, and not in the summer?  Why can't organic chemistry be offered every semester when it's the prerequisite to so many majors?  It's not JUST because the professors are lazy shits.  It's also because, if you don't fix your schedule perfectly, you're forced to enroll for one additional semester. I was wondering why so many people graduate from college in 5 years, rather than 4.  That's why!

These are just three of the scams that I found out about by reading No Sucker Left Behind.  It was a really enlightening book.  It's a must read for high school seniors!

So, here's the contest:  Think about college long and hard and write a blurb, in the comments, about how your college scammed you.  Be creative.  Or, if you can't think of a scam that applies to you specifically, just write about a college scam that you have identified.  If you become a follower of this Blog, then I will give extra consideration to your story.  If you don't feel comfortable telling me about your scam in the comments, then please email me your story and I will post it without your name--if you're the winner.   If I select your scam, I will post it and send you the book.  No restrictions on the age or location of the winner.  Anyone can enter.  Oh yah, no need to name your college.  

I will select a winner on July 30, 2010.  Good luck!


  1. #3 has an analog in law school. Law schools will advertise the really awesome classes they have and talk about how diverse your opportunities are. But, some classes are offered only once a year, or even only once every two years. If the class is popular, you can't get in as a 2L, and you might not even get in as a 3L. Add in a scheduling conflict and you can only get a couple classes you actually want.

    We need a reverse lottery. Put up all the classes that are ever offered, and let students bid on what they want, and then offer classes based on what gets the most bids. I know what NYU we'd have Negotiations 2-3 times a year instead of just once. ERISA wouldn't have been offered at all.

  2. There are no fun classes in law school. Stick to bar classes.

  3. Interesting blog, I just found you...and link to you in my latest post.

  4. my university offered a number of courses necessary for my major as co-requisites. that is, you could take 322 is you had previously taken 320 or if you took 320 at the same time. the 320 course often, if not always, had fewer seats, and occasionally overlapped the scheduled time for 322 by 30 minutes. accordingly, even though it was technically a corequisite, it was essentially impossible to take both classes in the same semester. this, of course, contributed to your aforementioned 5 year plan instead of the 4 year plan.

    i follow: livejt[at]gmail

  5. I don't want any prize consideration, but I think it's a scam that so many classes (at least at Pitt) were taught by PhD students and not professors.

    I would say that out of the last 25 courses I took at Pitt I got an actual professor only 2 or 3 times. Tuition was full price, of course.


  6. Just wanna say, great blog. Keep up the good work, we need more like this (I know there are others, but the more the merrier.)

    Forgive me if you've already covered this, I just started reading your blog, but do you expect a student loan bubble for LS grads, where gov't comes in and sets less strict terms for bankruptcy or some other sort of program? I'm not optimistic, but I'd like to know what you think.


  7. Yes. I blogged about it here:
    There has been a senator who tries to introduce a bill that will make student loans dischargeable, but I think he's gone now. Not sure, but it has been voted down more than once. Lemme know if you find something.

  8. I actually don't think my undergrad school scammed me. (Although I did pick a useless major - Poli Sci) Mine was an instate school so tutition was fairly cheap. Luckily I didn't graduate with much debt from undergrad (grad school whole different story) because my parents helped pay for most of it. I did get one scholarship, but it was only for freshman year too, didn't continue even though I made the dean's list 1st and 2nd semester. There were a lot of bone head classes you need to take in order to graduate, the schools "plan." You had to take 48 hrs of upper level courses (300-400), so many hours had to be writing intensive, international, etc, 12 hrs of science. I can understand certain majors/colleges taking science classes but really do all liberal arts majors have to endure that. I hated science, never was any good at it. Luckily, I planned my courses well and even took a couple summers and managed graduate in 4 yrs (only had 8 hrs my last semester) Grad school was a different story. I went to the same university (stayed because of a family illness) and all of the classes were essitential the same as undergrad, only difference, we read another book or did an extra paper. One professor didn't even realize he had grad students in his class (and sadly that was the same professor I had on my comphrensive exam) The sad part about the MA degree was I finished the reguired course work in 3 semesters and one summer session, but because I had so much trouble passing the comps, I had stay and take stupid classes to be considered enrolled because you had to be enrrolled in school the semester you took comps. The committee flip flop so much on me. First time I failed, I knew it was because I wasn't prepared enough (I had been out of the country 2 weeks prior for my brother's wedding). But the 2nd time, I read everything they had given me in class and even a lot of outside reading. Some of the outside reading I found more usefull than their books so I used that. Well one of the professor actually said to me he didn't know where some of the stuff I quoted came from (because it didn't come from his material) You know if I did a thesis instead, don't you have to draw on other sources for research, and not soley use the texts from that class? Apparently that's not how comps work - use only what we gave you in class. I eventually did pass on the 3rd time around and even then it was still a hassle. Sometimes I wish I didn't get my MA but at the same time I glad I finished it. Still doesn't help me get jobs. I've routinely heard, oh you have an MA so you're overqualified. No it doesn't, just means I bought into more education leads to better jobs notion. Even now I am contemplating going back to school. Not LS, but going back for teaching. Here again I have to go for a Masters, even my friend who has a MA in English, has to go through this program in order to become a teacher in my state. Really do believe it is a ploy to get more money out of you because it is a 2 yr program, but comparing it to law school where I would have taken out probably 200,000 in student loans for the three years, I'd only be taking 10-15,000 out depending on if I get the teacher scholarship (just have to teach in my state for 2 years which I'd be willing to do)

    Sorry for the long rant post. Just wanted to share my story with you all. I do enjoy reading BIDER and some of the other blogs. Honestly it really was a huge eye opener on what I would have been getting myself into if I had taken the plunge and gone to law school next month. the 3 schools I got into - 3/4th tier all cost 31,000 just in tutition.

  9. Amy, so happy that you considered the scam blogs in making your decision. But please don't rush off to get more schooling without lots of thought as well. It doesn't get better with more education. :) But good luck to you.

  10. Love the blog. Would like to break from most of these posts and offer a success story. I went to the University of Florida and majored in poli sci. Because I had a certain high school GPA and SAT score, I got the Bright Futures Scholarship from the state, which paid for 100% of my tuition and even gave me money for books. About half of the students at UF had this scholarship.

    Here's the great part. Even if you didn't have the scholarship, tuition is only like $3,000 a year there in-state.

    It's probably one of the ONLY deals in education right now.

  11. The scam is that you spend a fortune and all you get is a piece of paper to frame on your wall. There were people there who shouldn't have been allowed to graduate high school, but they got the best grades because all their ideas were liberal. You don't need a degree to succeed today if you are truly smart, but colleges and many in society don't want you to believe that. I would give up my worthless degree if it would cancel my student loan debt!

  12. Angel,

    It was actually an attorney I was temping for that suggest the third tier reality site and I started viewing the other ones it was linked to. Def thought really long and hard about going back to school. Unfortunetly I have to take the Masters in Teaching route, but like the poster above, instate tuition (don't know why I always wanna put an extra t in that word, lol) for me is also only 3 grand or so. And they do offer scholarships up to 5,000 a yr for students in a teaching program. I missed this yrs deadline since I just decided to apply but next year definetly applying for that. I do consider myself lucky that what I do have in student loan debt is small and even by doing the MAT degree, I'd still have half of what the majority of my friends have in student loans. I avoided private loans, ie Sallie Mae, the best I could.

  13. How about the colleges that give you a course outline describing the classes you need to graduate with a certain degree, only to change the course requirements before you graduate so that you have to take additional courses to get that degree.
    lfhpueblo at msn dot com

  14. I was doing a special associates degree on working with special needs children. (I was teaching school, while working at a special needs school), then planning on getting my teaching degree. I had gotten done with the third semester, with one to go, when the school called me to tell me they were cancelling the program. Since, I had one semester left, they told me I could still be in the program. But, they changed the classes to night classes, off campus, and in another town. I said forget it.

  15. I'm going back to school after 16 years. Went for 2 years, dropped out, and never got my degree so now I am going back this Fall. They are already pissing me off. I had to attend a MANDATORY new student orientation... waste of time... but the worst part is that it costs $100 to attend. And it was ALL DAY LONG... so boring and totally geared for high school freshmen, not an adult student returning to school. ARRRGGGGG!!!

  16. my college was located in a depressed area in the midwest. Housing in the city was ample, and one bedrooms were generally priced around $300 a month (this was forever ago, incidentally). But the college required all students to live in the dorms for their first three years of college (for the "educational experience," of course), and dorms were priced at from $600 to $900 per month, with all rooms shared with one or two other students. It didn't really occur to me that it was a scam until one of my friends, an openly gay man, started getting death threats on his voicemail from other residents who claimed they'd kill him if he kept using the (communal) bathroom. He took the voicemails to the housing folks and asked for a waiver from the policy, so that he could get off-campus housing. They refused, instead offering to move him to another dorm and suggesting he "try being more discreet" about his sexual orientation.

  17. As a Resident Advisor, in addition to my studying, I was expected to be a counselor and a policeman. I was given one Psychology Credit per semester for being an R.A.! Sheesh!


  18. I think some kids from my daughter's class got scammed from a college because they were supposed to get full ride scholarships because of their high gpa and act score. They had to go to this college for a day and be interviewed to see if they would get it. They received the scholarships but lost them after the first semester because of the classes the college gave them.

  19. Tuition fees, ugh how they can escalate

  20. It is WAY too late to be commenting on this, but I wanted to second comment #1 about law school advertising. I work, for a few more months, at a second tier law school (it's my "health insurance" job).

    Anyway, part of my job is to write/edit/revise/publish the law school catalog. We advertise literally DOZENS of classes that we have no faculty to teach and that have not actually been taught for multiple years. When I pointed out that this might be misleading to potential law students, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was to shut my mouth and leave the phantom classes in. The excuse is that the university registrar makes it too difficult to add new classes, so we need to keep the old ones on the books (as it were) in case we ever revive them.

    Yet they are listed in our catalog as "offered every other year."

    I am pretty sure that this practice is not confined to the law school where I work.

  21. THough I have already read the book:

    I have considered walking an graduation day just to keep up appearances. Then continue going to school and pass it off as graduate study. But I know one of my parents is simply to daft to get it and will only want to go to the "real" graduation. In the mean time, whenever anyone asks when I will graduate, I simply say "in about a year", knowing darn well I am starting school over. My parents get asked by their friends what I am doing and when I will be done. I have told people a bunch of majors. I could easily disconnect from the community of people I live around, but my parents cannot. This is hard for everybody....

    From my Blog to Academic Drop-Outs:
    "So, where am I now?" on Tuesday, August 24, 2010

  22. Despite the over use if adverbs and obvious keyword stuffing NSLB is a well researched and informative book. Tough read though.



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