A Word From Our Sponsor (disguised as a blog post)

I just have to share this with you all. I have a google alert set up with “need, photography, Pittsburgh” and I don’t normally get a lot of good results for that but sometimes it does provide leads so I keep it active. The other thing that happens occasionally is that it brings back interesting results like this one:

http://ihobbycorner.com/professional-photography/

Which will almost certainly need to be removed from that website. If it is before you get a chance to read it let me tell you what it is. It’s an advertisement for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh (AIP) disguised as a blog post on a hobby blog. The reason that I know if will be removed soon is because it’s illegal. Laws were past last year that made it illegal for bloggers and twitterers to endorse things without reveling their relationship or any compensation they are getting for doing so. This wasn’t even that well disguised – it looked like copy taken right from their website or from print material.

AIP is where I graduated from in 2001 and I really do value what I learned there but most of the people I graduated with are not doing what they went to school there for and we were told a ton of mis-truths and on occasion outright lies by the representatives of  the school. Things have only gotten worse as these days they are owned by Goldman Sachs who have pushed even harder for ever higher profits.

Upon reading this blog post advertisement I couldn’t pass up the chance to share with potential readers the lies and misrepresentations that abound with these folks. Being that my comment needed to be moderated and the fact that the post should be taken down I’ve decided to share my comments here with you dear reader so enjoy:

WDOphoto Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
February 2nd, 2010 at 3:17 pm

This poster is almost certainly a sales person – a paid sales person and their post may be in violation of recent laws that require a blogger to identify anyone who might be paying them to blog about a particular subject or any relationship that they might have with the subject that they are blogging about.

What the author also fails to tell you is that many graduates also are crushed by the huge expense of the tuition that the Art Institute charges.

I graduated from AIP in 2001, out of the folks that graduated with me and before and after me by a few quarters I am one of maybe 10 people that are working as a photographer.

Forget getting a job as a photojournalist right out of AIP – the newspaper industry has been shedding jobs, not adding them, and the vast majority of the students they pass through are not focused or driven enough to work in such a competitive field.

Nor are they set to work in commercial photography which is just as competitive. The majority of the students who are herded through their programs like cattle are meek and mild and set-up to fail.

This poster fails to tell you dear reader that you can learn just as much at a state school, more even, than what you will at AIP for far less money.

They’ve also failed to tell you that since Goldman Sachs bought EDMC (the company which owns AIP that the poster almost certainly works for in a sprawling cubical filled warehouse in Pittsburgh’s Strip District) the focus has become far more financially driven and profit motivated and far less about education.

Don’t get me wrong – the school was always profit driven. It’s just that now they are even more ruthless in their pursuit of financial gains at the expense of the general public.

EDMC employs hundreds, if not thousands, of sales people. They are not “councilors” they are sales people, their backgrounds are in sales, they don’t care if you are mentally deficient – if you have the money they’ll tell you how wonderful your future is going to be. After all the schools they are pushing have a 100% acceptance rate.

I strongly encourage everyone to read about the high costs of these schools and how these schools have a higher percentage of students who default on their loans as was my case because the cost of AIP was so high that I was forced into taking out private loans. They at one time set up (and still might have) a private loan just for them through Sallie Mae that I was told was the only private loan I was allowed to apply to my bill there. When I took out this loan the interest rate was 23% (compound that).

Something else to keep in mind – these schools target lower income high-school students and working adults that more than likely come from a family or background where they in no way can understand the complex financial problems that are being thrust upon them.

I was a wide-eyed teenager herded into a tight hallway full of 6×6 rooms with a waiting line an hour to two long. My mother and I had little to no time to read anything that was shoveled at us. We were told to sign here and sign there – it was as if the devil himself, with all of his slickness, was on the other side of that desk. We got taken. And so did nearly everyone I waited in line with that day. As I said only a few of us made it out doing what we went in there for.

They told my mother that for me to get additional aid she’d need to apply and be turned down for parent plus loans. The problem was that she wasn’t turned down and there was no way, according to them, that she could NOT take the loan out. She was forced into taking on debt that she could in no way afford.

A popular misconception is that this is an “art school”. It’s not – it’s a trade school. They crank out students every 3 months with the same degree, many with no chance of doing what they have been, for-the-most-part, poorly trained to do.

I don’t mean to come down hard on the instructors because for the most part they are quality folks and I really do respect the vast majority of them but at the same time they are trapped in a hard spot.

It has become obvious to me from what I saw when I was there, when I’ve gone back to speak with portfolio students, and when I interact with graduates, (usually when they are serving me at a coffee shop), that the teachers are encouraged to do as much as they can to NOT fail students. How can one teach people when they are not allowed to weed out the poorly performing students?

Don’t waste your money on these people or believe anything their sales people tell you. If you don’t believe me I encourage you to look at the statistics or even read what is happening in the news right now where these for-profit school owners are fighting the dept of education to keep from being held accountable.

The Obama admin wants to tie their ability to get fin. aid (which is where most of their money comes from) to the ability of their students to pay that money back. Meaning that their higher level of defaults could put them at risk of loosing their source of income. They are fighting this as hard as they can because they don’t want to be held accountable for their failure to actually educate and train students.

Shame on you cstein for posting misleading advertisements in such a manipulative manner.

That’s the end of the post but for more info on how they are fighting the dept. of education see the following articles:

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9DGTFCO0.htm

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100128-715543.html?mod=WSJ_latestheadlines

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