• Career Center

    You May Not Be Cut Out for Accounting When: You Double Up on For-profit College Debt

    By | February 1, 2012

    It's so sad to read these stories but I am convinced this is a real person and not some made up front for the conspiracy against for-profit schools:

    I attended DeVry University for over two years. However, in 2010, I had to drop out because I was told that I was going to go over my limit to receive financial aid. What I am upset about is they did not tell me in the beginning that I would not have enough federal aid to cover what I needed to complete for my bachelor degree program. Now that I have been out of school for two years, I have outstanding student loans from not only DeVry, but also Heald College, not to mention not being able to find work in my field of accounting.

    Let's see. You not only fell for the Maury Povich commerical education scam ONCE but TWICE and wonder why no accounting firm who relies on your brain to process information logically would hire you? Shocked, I tell you. It's not like accountants are expected to be capable of making good decisions, like should I SALY the shit out of this or actually spend a week coming up with a PCAOB-proof audit plan? Or should I expense this hotel porn on the firm's dime or just view it on the Internet like normal people do? Choosing two for-profit schools with no job two years later shows that your decision-making skills are less than stellar. And this is coming from a person who makes very poor decisions (I do this for a living, come on).

    You should have an idea of what you're going to pay going into it and know if the government is paying you enough to do it, and if not, where the rest will come from. Who signs up for four years of that without knowing how much it will cost you at the end? And you want to be an accountant?! Even I know to do that much and I hate math and would never subject myself to 1% of what some of you suffer through day in and day out.

    It's interesting that so many DeVry grads have so much bad shit to say about their alma mater. Even some of you who went to awful state schools (you know who you are) have some pride in the school that taught you to just barely get by but all you had to do was pass and get a job, which many of you have done. The for-profit grads, however, obviously linger around waiting for the same kind of mediocrity only to find debt and despair.

    It all gets summed up in the comments. When Keller (a DeVry property) wrote me about negative press they were getting from a Keller grad who asked us for help, Former PDubs writes:

    It's nice to see that kind of reaction. Maybe some day the for-profit educational institutions will shed the stigma. It's not like accounting is some deeply specialized theoretical field that requires you to study with the best and brightest cutting edge researchers; It's rote memorization of a bunch of rules. I suppose some folks get more specialized at certain subsets of those rules, but all the same – none of it is overly complex. If they are successful at building a good placement program, there's no reason why Keller grads can't eventually be considered on level footing with top state school grads.

    What is the barrier? Is easy government money to blame? Why can't students discharge this debt and why are we so eager to pimp it out to not only young high school graduates but "busy" working adults who seek out alternative education as easy as a SSN and a FAFSA?

    • Guest

      Devry, Capella, Strayer, ITT Tech, U of Phoenix, etc. are not in the business of providing education.  They are in the business of exploiting the student loan system we have set up so they can collect as much government money as possible without actually providing a useful service.  In economics, we call this “rent seeking behavior”.

      • $19577774

        Well said. To further address Former PDub’s comment, the reason Keller will never improve to the point where its graduates are on the same footing as graduates of top state schools is simple. This is not Keller’s purpose.

        The purpose of a top state school is to educate its students. Keller’s purpose is to make profits for its investors.

        While it is obviously easy to slam the OP for poor decision-making (Adrienne has already taken care of that, so I will not pile on), I think it is important to note that many of the “victims” of DeVry’s fraud are kids right out of high school. Thinking back to when I was 18, I didn’t know shit. Most of the people on this message board didn’t know shit when they were 18 either, and if they say they did then they are lying. I remember in high school when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, a guest speaker came into my U.S. History class and made a presentation on DeVry. It sounded great to me, being the moron I was at that age. I went home that night and told my dad about this great idea for my future. My dad almost kicked the shit out of me. That was the last time I thought about going to DeVry, and in hindsight that may have been the most important thing my dad ever did for me.

        • Not David Duncan

          Not only are the targets of for profit colleges unknowledgeable 18 year olds, the colleges also hire and use high pressure sales techniques that make used car salesman blush.
          Fraudulent inducement comes to mind.

        • Strategery

          B4V…you still don’t know shit

    • Chris Keller

      DeVry didn’t make you a bitch. You were born one.

    • Guest

      It’s a shame. I was duped by Berkeley College myself. Fortunately, I saw the light after a year and hightailed it out of there. To this day I run into alumni of that school working at CVS.

    • CPAlady

      There also seems to be an undercurrent (at least anecdotally) of class divisions that makes me cringe every time I hear someone is going to one of these schools. It is probably the result of someone being the first in their family to get a post-secondary education and so they don’t have a father to kick their ass like Big4Veteran because their parents don’t know any better either.
      My state school may not have been a perfect learning institution, but they at least didn’t intentionally feed off of my naïveté to get my federal aid dollars only to leave me in massive debt with no job prospects. I actually have a little bit more respect for the schools that give out actual technical degrees (e.g. vet tech or whatever) than the “passion fields” like the art or culinary schools that charge you ridiculous sums of money to prepare you for a job that is unlikely to ever net you more than $30,000/year and that has many more qualified applicants than it does actual positions.
      All the same, if you’re studying accounting and you didn’t figure out in advanced how much your education is going to cost you and how much support the feds will provide then I would have to agree with Adrienne that this may not be the field for you. If you couldn’t figure out that a $5,000 community college associates degree will get you the same payroll clerk position as that $30,000 DeVry degree… you’ve got bigger problems than your debt load.

      • $19577774

        This is what the for-profit schools prey on. Kids these days are constantly being told that you have to get a college degree if you want to be successful. So the natural conclusion, if you don’t have a wise person to kick you in the ass, is that any degree is better than nothing. So you may not have good grades or extracurricular activities, but DeVry will come to the rescue because their only requirement for admission is that your check clears the bank.

    • The Incredible Bean Counter

      There’s also the fact that these for-profit “Universities” are nationally accredited, not locally accredited. Does anyone know if state boards accept nationally accredited hours to qualify for the CPA exam? I thought I recalled multiple states requiring local accreditation, but I can’t find anything about it (Google has failed me).

      • The Ernest

         Yes they do. DeVry CPA here from California.

      • TAXGUY

        Really?  UOP is regionally(there is no “local” accreditation) accredited with the Higher Learning Commission out of Chicago.  It’s there with U of Illinois, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan, etc.

    • The Ernest

      I always get bummed out when I see posts like these. I am a Devry graduate – now CPA who went to Devry back in 2000 right out of high school. My grades were terrible in high school as I was to busy playing Dragonrealms, Ultima Online and Everquest to consider worrying about silly things like education. I don’t believe I am unintelligent, but I was uninformed and immature at the time I made my decision.

      After I graduated from high school my father (uneducated) was worried about me getting lost in the community college system and recommended I go to DeVry. Not only was it strongly recommended but it was going to be mostly paid for by him. It wasn’t just him though – I had a cousin who went to DeVry and ended up doing well for himself, so many members of my family pushed me in that direction. To say it was expensive is a huge understatement. It cost a ton of money and by the time I finally wised up as to how ridiculously expensive it was I was half way through my program. When I tried to transfer other schools were unwilling to give me credit for half of the classes I had taken. I was trapped! I could either finish my education there or start over. I opted to stick it out. I had already changed major once and that had been a huge setback. I wasn’t willing to start over yet again.

      Not only was it really expensive, but I started to get the major looks of disapproval from people whenever they asked what school I went to. I never knew DeVry was such a bad option before I attended. Still to this day I absolutely DREAD when a client asks me what school I went to. Generally what they are hoping for is to do some ribbing about my college’s football team or perhaps share some comradery about the horrible cafeteria food. But the end result is a look of disappointment. That unspoken look is the single worst part about attending DeVry. I’ve actually not had the problems that I’ve heard other Devry graduates have had. I never went to Big4 or even had the option of going. I did take a part time job while I was in school at a local tax firm and worked there for three years before they hired me after graduation. That allowed me to build up my resume with years of experience before having to dive into the job market.

      All of the above being said, I feel like my education was legit. I had an accounting professor who made accounting classes both educational and genuinely enjoyable. I did well on the CPA exam scoring mostly in the high 80s to mid 90s. I know everyone says that your scores don’t matter – but I feel like it adds legitimacy to my education which is widely considered to be subpar. I know for a fact I outscored the USC graduates at my firm across the board. It wasn’t like I wrote a check and they printed out a degree for me, which is what many people believe. DeVry made be overpriced, but the education I received seems solid to me. I just wish I could explain all of this to someone before I tell them I went to DeVry.

      One closing thought for the writers of going concern: Take it easy on the for-profits if you can. They are an easy target to pick on and having a “for-profits are crap” circlejerk is just easy pickins’. They know their reputation, and most likely don’t care what the general accounting populous thinks of them. The people who will fall victim to articles like this are people like me, who went to Devry because they made a dumb choice when they were a teenager 12 years ago.

      • CPAlady

        Thanks for posting that Ernest! I wanted to add that in my comment I almost put in a disclaimer that I’m sure there are great/inspiring instructors at for-profits and plenty of ambitious driven students who would succeed no matter what. I’m glad you’re doing well 🙂

      • Irie1972

        Ernest, your story is almost exactly mine. I went to DeVry, worked my ass off, got a lucky break when a professor recommended me to a recruiter at PwC and got hired. Things have become more challenging as the years went on and I am now enrolled at Northern Illinois University working on my MST. I cannot compete with just a DeVry credential. Its useless. I would counsel anyone thinking about going to a for profit school – don’t do it.

        • TheErnest

          Irie1972 I’d love to talk with you more. Shoot me an e-mail at ketchupdog at gmail.com (throwaway account)

      • Thanks for posting this, I hope you didn’t take any of my above comments personally (sounds like you didn’t) and good for you for making the most of your situation.

        To me, someone like you could just as easily self-teach themselves with old accounting textbooks and a little bit of initiative. I’m glad you had a good experience (and it sounds like it worked out for you in the end) but worry about people like the OP I linked to who fell for not just DeVry but Heald too and wonder why no one wants to hire them.

        The unfortunate thing about these schools – in my view – is that they prey on the low income, uneducated masses who think a “real degree” will be some magic pill that will make them employable. Obviously it isn’t that easy and yet they continue preying on these people. That isn’t to say that they don’t offer “education”… I never believed DeVry was a degree mill in the traditional sense, but I do believe that they misrepresent the future their students face, especially in this economy where employers can be pickier.

    • Still Happy Accountant

      One of the great things about our profession is that passing the CPA exam is the great leveller.  It does not matter how and where you accumulate those 150 hours.  You can pick them up from community colleges, state schools, glorious top tier universities, for profits, online, and abroad.  (Just takes a little planning/coordination to do it all right.)  The alma mater snobbery doesn’t apply in accounting the way it does with law schools.  I for one love this profession and am very proud of our community of CPAs.

      To Adrienne, as a former CPA exam instructor you would have seen all of these folks at their worst. You heard their fears and nightmares the way no one else would (not even spouses or parents). The brief misery of passing the CPA exam is just temporary. You should feel better, at least, knowing that the vast majority of your students went on to be very happy.  The grumpy exceptions are the ones who post bleak and negative remarks on GC comment threads!

      • $19577774

        False. A CPA auditing Uncle Bob’s Tool Store is not the same as a CPA auditing a Fortune 500 company.

        • TAXGUY

          The only difference is the fee.  GAAS and GAAP are still the same.

          • $19577774

            Uh, yeah, whatever.

          • Big 4 snob

            I agree with Big 4 Veteran. If you’ve ever compared Big 4 audit workpapers to some of the crap that these local firms put out that are mere tie outs of schedules as opposed any analysis of proper GAAP application then you might have a different opinion.

          • Smasher

            Transactions are also way more complicated for big companies than small ones. Uncle Bob has probably never even heard of a derivative, for example.

        • Still Happy Accountant

          B4V, your self-dislike and life discontentment seem to come through in most of your GC comments, often couched in an effort to inform/educate. I don’t know why you comment so frequently when you are clearly so dissatisfied with your life. I just feel sad that you continue to choose such a dismal attitude.  Life is what we make of it, no matter the size of the firm or the engagement.

          • $19577774

            First of all, fuck you.

            Second, while I’m sure we all enjoy reading your posts about rainbows and gum drops, this particular blog post was about some poor sap who got ass raped by DeVry. Did you read it?

            Third, of course life is what we make of it. I was just pointing out that a CPA at a POS local firm is not the same as a CPA at a global firm that serves Fortune 500 companies. No, the CPA exam is not the “great leveller”. Some people study very hard in school, bust their ass to get a job with a prestigious firm, and then do very challenging work which opens up amazing opportunities for them down the road. Other people dick around in high school, go to a shitty “university” because they can’t get admitted to a good school, and then go to work helping mom & pop shops cheat on their taxes. But we apparently disagree on this point, so let’s move on.

            Fourth, I went to an excellent school and then worked at the biggest and baddest accounting firm in the world, beotch. Now I’m in private industry and I make bank. And I can post as many fucking comments on GC as I want every day, and still make bank!! So if you want to say I have “self-dislike” and “life discontentment”, then whatever.

            And finally, to conclude, go fuck yourself.

          • ATM

             Ha, B4V is a 1 percenter and proud.

      • That’s why I’m so adamantly anti-DeVry!! In my years working in CPA review, I spoke with many of their former students who had the foundation but lacked theory, connections, and many other various minutia required to thrive in this industry. I felt awful for these people, they weren’t stupid by any means but they were so far in debt already, I didn’t want to tell them to just go get a real MAcc from a respected school to at least make up for their “not real” bachelor’s. The worst was when I’d talk to a mom of 2 or 3 who had a husband out of work and was hoping to take advantage of the DeVry “flexible schedule” only to discover they did not prepare her at all for the CPA exam, let alone the real accounting world. So sad.

        I treasured my time dealing with all our students and, like you said, sharing in their successes in a way even their own spouses couldn’t. It felt great when these people would call me to tell me they passed and then tell me “I called you before I called my wife, I just wanted you to know I passed!!” That was awesome.

        As for the grumpy exceptions… I’m used to it. It makes me feel good to know we have offered a place for bitter assholes everywhere to dump their feelings, even when they’re dumping on me.

        Despite my comments that might seem to the contrary, I too love this profession and am honored that I am allowed to hang around even though I’m just some math-hating writer who accidentally ended up here.

        Stay happy, kiddo 😉

    • $19577774

      Here is the link to the consumer affairs website that Adrienne included in her post above. I don’t know how anyone can read these testimonials and not end up having hatred for the fraud that DeVry perpetrates. These crooks should be put out of business. They are defrauding taxpayers and America’s eager young morons.


      Anyone who wants to hate on me for bagging on DeVry (and other for-profit “universities”), please read the above link before giving me shit.

      • TAXGUY

        You make bank and have time to do this many postings. LOL.

        Hey, your mom has called you for dinner.  Come on up from the basement.

        Talk is cheap.

      • DC

        Unfortunately, consumer affairs probably isn’t going to do anything. Probably better to take it up with a state regulator.

         For-profit colleges aren’t all bad, of course, but that doesn’t mean the average school is good. For example, the GAO exposed some pretty shady practices (http://gao.gov/products/GAO-10-948T).

        Oh and they’re also defrauding America’s veterans. Look up the “90/10 Rule,” and you see why they compete like dogs to enroll veterans.

    • TheErnest

      I really don’t disagree with your posts about DeVry. I think that your
      posts can be pretty toxic though and I didn’t appreciate you using me as
      your example either.

      That said I did read through a bunch of those testimonials and I truly
      feel for those people. I’ve experienced some of it and it sucks. It doesn’t help that there are people like you who get their kicks out of attempting to reduce people to shit because you don’t think the school they picked when they were a kid is good enough. As you said, you were a moron at that age, lucky for you your father was able to step in and set you straight. You should thank him for that next time you see him.

      Edit: This was in reply to Big4Veteran

    • CFITom

      Adrianne, come on Man!  Why did you have to go poke the hornets nest?  Its like throwing a sucker punch at closing time

    • WorthlessStock

      The key takeaway from this story is that [thank baby Jesus] the government says ENOUGH to these for-profit schools after two years. Motion to reduce down to one semester.

    • CPA God

      LOL… you all crack my ass up.  Who the fuck cares what school and what firm after 5 years anyway.  If you are intelligent and motivated a KMart CPA can be succesful.  It just happens that people that go to shitty school tend to be… well, shitty.  Like everything there is an exception.

      btw… how many of you drive a Hyundai?

    • Jhghj

      Ah yes, B4V. One of the few non-corrupt, non-communist higher up posters of this website. I approve. DeVry is only good for providing Becker. How sad is it that the company that provides the best review course out there has an absolutely worthless accounting (or any other) degree? Oh wait, I just answered my own question, they’re not a school, they’re a company.

      Devry, UoP, etc. need to end their “Education” division. Too bad our US Dept of Education is too busy lobbying Congress for ridiculous statutes that make student loan from real (and fake) schools non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.