|Are "Career College" CJ degrees a scam?|
|By Judith A. Yates|
Many “career colleges” or “technical schools” offer Criminal Justice degrees. Their advertisements boast a person can get a job, using hands-on learning, in law enforcement fields. Are these schools worthy?
Career colleges are “for profit” meaning they are a business. They must bring in students in order to survive. Unlike community colleges, or universities, they rely solely on tuitions. A potential student contacts the company / school, who assigns a representative to contact that student. The ‘rep’ is a sales person, trained to bring in students. The objective is to recruit that student the first day in the building. In one ‘tech’ school, a rep confides, “Reps are required to call at least ten times per day every day until the appointment is made, call prior to the appointment, and call a few hours before the person is to arrive.” If they cannot entice the person in, the name is handed off to another rep. If a rep is not bringing in enough students, their job is at risk. Some “for profit” schools have been known to tell potential CJ students “criminal records don’t matter.” $80,000 and a degree later, graduates learn they cannot be hired because of a criminal record. Consumer Digest reports schools have been in legal trouble for deceptive practices regarding recruiting.
These schools must keep students in order to survive. Instructors are required to keep a percentage of students in class, and a certain percentage of students passing, in order to continue their jobs. This means, “Pass at almost any cost,” as one instructor confides. Instructors are evaluated by how many students are passing and in class. “Hands on training” depends on the instructor and school budget. School programs offered rely on student population; programs can be dropped and changed while students are still in school. In 2011, one Nashville technical school dropped a CJ Bachelor’s degree program because of the low student registration. Students in the program continued the program. Students obtaining their Associates, who planned to next obtain the Bachelors, were, as one Criminal Justice instructor said, “Out of luck.” The Associate credits did not transfer to another school.
The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) usually accredits career colleges. The ACICS monitors student retention to student engagement. Most ACICS college credits do not transfer. ACICS demands Career Services regulate employment of students.
Per company policy, “for- profit” schools must place a certain percentage of graduates in jobs at a certain salary percentile. Career Services Department employees’ jobs rely on these numbers. Potential students should receive a report of job placement for the particular field they are interested in. One Nashville school counted the jobs their Career Services located for students, and also jobs the students found on their own and jobs found for students by other staff.
Criminal justice jobs advertised on the “for profit” school advertisements do not require degrees. Private investigator, prison officer, security officer – all are jobs that either require state certification or specialized training. Do your homework before deciding to attend a career or tech college. Education is an investment, not an expense.
Link to Consumer Digest: http://www.consumersdigest.com/family/degrees-of-difficulty
Link: to ACICS: http://www.acics.org/publications/criteria.aspx#3-1-440
Corrections.com author, Judith Yates, is a criminologist who has lectured on domestic violence prevention for over 20 years. A former Correctional Officer Specialist and trainer with the Bureau of Prisons, she is now a true crime writer and a trainer available for guest speaking engagements. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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