Why Aren’t For-Profit Admission Reps Fighting Back?

Ask a college admission representative how they chose their profession and you’ll most likely find many simply fall into the job with the promise of changing students’ lives.

Who wouldn’t love to do that as a profession? The job title of admission representative doesn’t quite fit what they do either; but in the private, for-profit world, they aren’t allowed to use the title of “Counselor” because that would be misleading according to some. If you knew what the job really entailed, it’s hard to come up with another title though.

Although some would say the admission representative “targets” students with low self-esteem or those who are the first generation in their family to go to college, the admission rep doesn’t really control who comes in the door of their school. This is the job of marketing for the most part. But for those students who do come into a career college (usually a for-profit) they typically meet the admission representative first.

And you know what? This same person is the one they call when they are in trouble – when they need guidance or reassurance. They surely run through the crowd of people around them to find their admission representative (who by now is more of a friend) to give them a big hug at graduation.

But with all the bad press against for-profit colleges: subsequent reduction in staff of the BIG players (Corinthian, University of Phoenix, etc.); fines over a BILLION dollars due in part due to misrepresentation… the fingers are pointing at admission representatives as the bad guys.

Supposedly these are the folks who sit across from a prospective student and leave out the whole truth; play on their emotions; manipulate them; encourage them to take out loans and sometimes downright LIE! (Just Google misleading students and you will find plenty of stories on ITT, DeVry, Globe University and Corinthian.)

One would think there would be an outcry amongst admission representatives who are doing the right thing. Shouldn’t they be proud of their profession? What’s stopping them from righting the wrong and letting people know the other side of the story?

Two possible reasons come to mind. First, we have to look at the schools they work for along with job expectations. Is their employer playing by the rules and making sure that everyone else is, too? Are select behaviors modeled and recognized or does volume of enrollments rule supreme? Are goals realistic and attainable by following the rules? Oftentimes we find it is outdated training with a heavy focus on selling that gets people into trouble.

Secondly, perhaps the admission representative is viewed as a replaceable resource versus a valued professional. This is a strong possibility given there is no formal education required to be an admissions rep. There is no credential or certification for the job, nor is there a united front or membership group for professional development and growth.

We often say if your values don’t align with your organization then it’s time to leave. For the most part, many admission professionals have stood by their organizations because they ARE doing the right thing. Some, I’m sorry to say, may have compromised their own values and validated their actions under the guise of helping students. Yes, there are bad players out there, but a majority of admission representatives are true professionals. It’s time to step up and be recognized!

Join us on June 8th for the Career Education Admissions Symposium in Orlando, Florida! This event brings together admission professionals from community colleges and career colleges along with high school guidance counselors to brainstorm on challenges/opportunities and best practices in working with students interested in career education. Anyone working with adults or high school students will walk away with meaningful insights and have a chance to finally be heard! Click here for more info.

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