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Former Kaplan University Employee Says Recruiting is as Aggressive as Ever

A few months ago, we detailed the questionable behavior of the state's for-profit colleges, and how they were under state investigation for deceptively luring students into educational programs of questionable value.

Key to the schools' success is an aggressive sales policy, in which "admissions" representatives are just salespeople in a big room battling for who can enroll the most students. These practices were supposedly tamped down after a Government Accountability Office report in 2010 that called out the aggressive sales tactics (such as bonuses tied to enrollment numbers, or sales reps lying to students to get them in the door).

But once the dust settled, says a former employee we'll call Sandra, things just got worse. Sandra is biased -- she was fired a couple weeks ago from Kaplan University for not making enough sales -- but her story is familiar.

After the federal scrutiny, "once everything was clear, they decided to get even worse," she tells us, referring to Kaplan's pressure on salespeople.

"People were crying, because they were losing their jobs. For the past three weeks, I've had no one to talk to," she says. "It's like a ghost town in there." A far cry from the schools' heyday, when sales floors were reportedly bustling with activity and new enrollments led to balloons being tied to cubicles.

Sandra violated the school's "three-strike" policy, which comes from not meeting enrollment goals in three different periods. The system for calculating this was made more challenging after enrollments started to drop, she says. Enrolled students have to actually show up to class and stay in school for seven days.

At the heart of this are the "leads" that admissions reps are given of potential new students to call. Sandra says she was routinely given bad leads. "I had 200 leads a day and was getting nothing," she says. "I was calling up people who were already enrolled in school."

These are called "non-viable leads," and Sandra claims they're a way for the school to "shut you off completely" if "they target you and don't want you there."

Meanwhile, the state attorney general's investigation into Kaplan, open since 2010, is going nowhere, shelved by business-friendly Republican Pam Bondi.

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Stefan Kamph
Contact: Stefan Kamph

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