How “Admissions” Works Differently At For-Profit Colleges: Sorting and Signaling

In the dominant discourse you hear two lines about for-profit colleges. They are either the solution to expansion and access problems in the traditional college sector, which has ignored non-traditional students, or they are draining the federal coffers dry by accelerating the privitization of public education.

Despite what some argue, I actually come down a bit more nuanced than either of those lines of thought.

For-profit colleges are converting a public good into private profit. But the why and the how of it is much more complicated and, spoiler alert, no one comes off as the good guy.

I cover a summary of my current research and I do something I have done only piecemeal (and reluctantly) before: discuss in fuller detail my experiences of working in the for-profit college sector.

Part 1: It’s The Economy, Stupid

When folks like Bill Tierney and Dick Vedder laud the for-profit college sector as a necessary market solution to unmet demand, they forget to address what is creating the demand.

On the other side, the people whose job it is to ask such questions haven’t much given a damn, *coughsociologycough*.

As part of my doctoral research, I am conducting an institutional analysis of the growth of for-profit colleges. What about the mid 1990s made the environment so ripe for rapid expansion? Kevin Kinser gets at this neo-institutionally with a fine analysis of regulation and financialization.

Yet, there must something more than regulatory changes and market innovation to such a massive change in college-going in such a short period of time. Something created a million new people who suddenly wanted a college degree.

In my sample of currently enrolled for-profit students there is one motivation that subsumes all others: job insecurity.

People who have worked pretty steadily for years as manual laborers, secretaries, and customer service are watching the economic trends unfold up close and personal as we bicker about them in the abstract .

They are being laid off. Their supervisors have started tracking how often they take pee breaks to enact draconian dismissal procedures.  That has the dual effect of getting rid of a labor expense unit AND denying the worker unemployment insurance because they were fired for failing in their job duties.

People who used to be able to pick up a new job or a second job here and there as life demanded, now cannot find the first job.  They are unemployed longer and longer.

They think a degree will help because they are told a degree will help.

And the admissions process at for-profit colleges is designed to respond to this insecurity.

Part 2: I Was An Enrollment Counselor

I was working as a copywriter when I was head-hunted by a company working for a college.

I loved school. I wanted to return to school myself. Working at a school, surrounded by school-y things, sounded like nirvana. Plus, being head-hunted is hella cool.

Three weeks later I was handed a phone list and a recruitment manual at my new job, plopped down at a desk in a room with 15 other people and desks, and told “impress me” by my recruitment manager.

Nicole, the manager, liked to tell us in our bi-weekly team meetings that we were not admissions counselors. We were a sales force. The emphasis was on force.

My primary job on the phones was to call 100 people a day and to get them to walk through the door for an appointment.I was not supposed to give out details about tuition, start dates, nothing. You had to visit for any information. If the caller insisted, I was to end the call with the offer to mail them something and move on.

I was never supposed to use the word admissions. Legally, there were no admissions requirements — like most for-profit colleges this one was open-enrollment, meaning no tests or criteria were required – so we were enrollment counselors instead.

There was only one goal for  the enrollment appointment: to get a signed enrollment agreement before they left.

When I tried something more akin to counseling in my first appointment Nicole, who was monitoring, told me that giving the lead an idea of other options in the area would get me fired. We don’t counsel or admit, we enroll.

To get from phone call to “campus visit” appointment, I was to identify during the phone call what would motivate the student. Were they afraid of being unemployed? Were they embarrassed not to be working or in school? Were they trying to get their mother or girlfriend off of their back?

Leads, or prospective students, were assigned randomly except when they weren’t. The hottest leads — those who had initiated first contact with the school — went to the super star closers in the office.

I had the makings of a good closer.

People have always liked talking to me so it proved fairly easy to book appointments. And about half the people I booked showed up. And when they did they seemed to trust me.

Some of that was particular to me, perhaps, but it was also a function of how the enrollment process was designed. I was trained to dress down from my usual gear because I needed to look approachable. I was told that I talked too “proper”. I needed to take it down a notch so as not to intimidate applicants. I should never sit across the desk from a lead. Instead we should always be eye-level, on the same side of the desk to breed familiarity. I was to ask closed-ended questions that social dictates made difficult to answer in any way but affirmatively. “Isn’t this computer lab great?” Yes. “Isn’t this job board useful?” Yes. “Can’t you see yourself here?” Yes.

No objection was too great to be overcome (except a defaulted student loan: that ended an interview and all contact immediately).

If you can’t come because you need childcare, bring your child to the appointment. I often held and nursed babies while giving campus tours. One child was pissing down my shirt as I built on the “yes” habit I’d cultivated with his mother during the tour: “Are you ready to start school?!” Yes.

If you did not have the enrollment fee I could take it in installments or wait as you went to the ATM or give you use of the phone to borrow it from a friend of relative.

What I could not do was waste time on “shoppers”. These were leads that asked questions or indicated they had visited or planned to visit other schools to compare. I should also not waste much time on leads who attended with parents. Parents tend to shop.

The paperwork to enroll in our $70,000 BA programs was minimal. When you showed up, you completed a single page information sheet with all the methods of contacting you and several short answer responses to questions like:

  1. Why are you interested in going to school?
  2. What are your career goals?
  3. What obstacles are preventing you from achieving my goals?

That info sheet was enrollment gold. You guarded them and you tracked them. If a lead mentioned that they didn’t like college the first time, you noted that they probably have existing student loans. If they mentioned a boyfriend, you noted his name as he may be important to the decision to enroll. So on and so on.

To enroll, you would sit with me on the same side of the desk as I explained the sections of a three page document of legalese and details in small print. I told you where to initial and sign. Once you signed, I congratulated you on starting your new, better life as an educated professional with a future.

If you disappeared or stopped taking my calls or seemed unsure at any point between signing that enrollment agreement and completing the financial aid package on the way to the first day of class, I was to refer to that info sheet for a means of motivating you to return.

Institutions aren’t paid by the government until there’s a butt in a seat. My job was to get that ass to a seat.

Of note is what this process did not include. There was not an online application. A credit card was not required. Students could ask questions of a person, directly. There was no SAT or ACT. There was no admissions test (a Wunderlick was instituted later; more on that in a future post).

3. Structure and Agency

My experience is pretty similar to the admissions processes I’ve surveyed from 9 different for-profit colleges for my research project. There are some differences across institution and, especially with regulatory changes, across time. But the process of building motivation into a personalized admissions process centered on the benevolent authority of the enrollment adviser remains common.

So, I do not recount this experience to self-flagellate (much) or to cast for-profit admissions as predatory. I recount it because it has lessons to teach us about how stratification happens at the organizational level.

I’ve come to view the structure of admissions in the for-profit college sector as an organizational response to systemic structural issues.

All asses didn’t come my way for a seat.

When I teach my undergraduates at my elite, private school they all recognize the for-profit college ads I play to introduce the idea of higher education stratification. I ask them why they did not apply to Everest or Strayer when they were applying to college. They tell me that it’s not a school for people like them.

That means they see the same commercials the rest of us see, the ones for-profit students see. But the marketing doesn’t motivate them. The sorting of “real” college and for-profit college, then, has already happened by this point, somehow.

Sometimes I get a student, usually black and always first generation, who meets me after class to tell me that her mother went to Everest or his best friend from high school went to ITT or her sister is at the University of Phoenix.

They do not want to talk about it front of their peers, much in the same way my students often struggle with talking about race or class during Intro to Sociology courses.

For-profit students are similarly hesitant during interviews when I ask them to discuss the milieu in which their educational choices were made. Even when fiercely proud of their education — and many of them are — there is a point of anger for many when asked to explain why a for-profit and not an area traditional college.

There is a sense, often unarticulated until I start prodding, that they made the best choice available to them.

My job is to figure out how those choices were shaped for them and by them.

Some of that is a response to how traditional higher education is organized. Can you imagine applying to your flagship state university by walking into the admissions office with $75 in cash? It is even difficult to do at the local community college I visited recently. And community colleges are, theoretically, designed to serve demographically similar students as those served by for-profit colleges. Waltzing in with cash money is not only a bureaucratic violation but a cultural one. It signals you do not know how “real” college works.

But the greatest correspondence between my data and the for-profit sector’s growth, admissions and matriculation processes is with the weakness in the economy. One finding jumps out immediately: more than educational aspiration and personal edification, fear and insecurity motivates the for-profit students I am interviewing.

That led me to write today:

Rather than a market response to unmet consumer demand, my data tell a story of class insecurity that is transformed into a credentialing process through marketing that sorts, and admissions processes that signal to students that a for-profit credential can provide the security they intuit they need. The success of colleges like Profit U not only responds to the individual pain points of students grappling with increasing competition for fewer good jobs, but organizationally they have responded to weaknesses — pain points — in the social structure.

So, my primary finding so far is: we built this. All of us, we built this.

23 thoughts on “How “Admissions” Works Differently At For-Profit Colleges: Sorting and Signaling

  1. I taught General Education (Sociology, Philosophy and Political Science mainly) and managed Student Services at three different for-profit colleges. I have a nuanced view as well. Traditional colleges simply were not available (either because of poor grades, nonexistent support of family/friends or a general feeling that they could not compete) for a lot of students.

    Upon questioning some of the “admissions” procedures at all three schools, I was told the same thing, “who are you to determine whether or not a person can aspire to more?”

    For some of the students, the career colleges are a lifesaver…opening up opportunities and confidence. For others it is a straight shot to a life of debt and discouragement.

    I believe community colleges could learn a lot from both the successes and shortcomings of the for-profit sector. It seems the Administration would like to see community colleges increase their service to this population and increased regulation of Dept. of Ed. monies. I wholeheartedly agree with this approach.

    However, there is an unwillingness (and a bit of snobbery in some cases) to acknowledge any legitimate value these schools may provide. It cannot be denied though that two of the three schools where I taught needed additional regulation and pursued very strong arm tactics. Almost like time-share sales. Student often felt duped.

    I am very interested in your research and perspective. Thanks for shining a light here.

  2. thank you so much for sharing. this is such important work–we all need the wool to be pulled back from over our eyes to see how these pushes & pulls for for-profit univ operate; and at what cost.

  3. I have an interesting perspective on this. I went to the University of Phoenix (in person) for my MBA. I went to a very overpriced private college for my undergrad, and I was one of the only students there that I felt worked and went to school. I worked full time and was only there for classes, and at the end, I felt like I spent a lot of money and time on something that wasn’t paying off for me, and I hadn’t made any professional connections. My school didn’t do much to help me find a job, other than tell me I should’ve taken an internship. Which is a great option for someone who can work for free and uproot their life and maybe quit their job to get coffee for people for free. I had hoped that employers would notice that if I could work full time witha decent amount of responsibility at a sales job and go to school full time and graduate with a decent GPA, that they’d think was great experience toward a job. I did know I’d want to go to grad school because education is a passion of mine. So when they came to my work a couple of months before I graduated and told me that employees of my company got a small discount and I could finish faster on my time, taking into account the fact I work hard, and start looking for higher end jobs. Once I started, they told me they loved my hustle, and recruited me to be an “enrollment counselor” and that they were hiring me on as a temp right now, but when I went permanent, my tuition would be free. So I quit my job that I’d been at for three years and went to work with them as a temp. I gave up my benefits and commission, etc. They had initially told our group of hires it’d be 4-6 weeks before they hired permanently. After 5 months of not being hired as a permanent employee because I hadn’t gotten enough people to sign on (yes, my experience is exactly as described in your story), I was let go and was unemployed for 6 months. I did finish school; they were right and becauseI was highly motivated I finished my MBA in about a year and a half with no breaks. However, now I feel like I’m paying for an education that no one takes seriously; I’ve actually found myself leaving it off applications and resumes depending on who will be looking. There is a big prejudice from people who haven’t had the same working experiences, I think, but lots of people who worked and went to school admire that I got my MBA from UoP. I work in feminist activism and education, where there is a wide disparate experience in education and opportunity. There are lots of highly academic feminists who would look at me with pity or feel I was duped. I do feel that way, some, but not from my classes. I actually learned quite a bit, and whatever problems I see with for-profit education, most of them have to do with recruiting people and getting them in debt when they don’t have a great motivation to finish. The classes and instructors weren’t bad; I met some very smart, driven people in my class, who were mostly working professionals attending in person at night. But the fact I paid 30K for an education that I’m embarrassed to mention to some people because of class prejudice is excruciating for me. I want to go back to school and try to get a “legitimate” degree now that I know more about the education system. For what it’s worth, I also got my MBA because of economic struggling. I knew I never wanted to be in the same situations as my friends or parents, and that getting an advanced degree would help ensure that. I thought an advanced degree showed a rare commitment and level of professionalism that most people don’t have, because a lot of people in my world didn’t. I managed to graduate during the big dip of 2008 so none of it helped anyway, and I’ll never know if it was because of schooling or the economy, but I am definitely not making what a lot of MBAs make now, but I do have about $80 in student loans to pay back forever.

    1. You weren’t kidding when you said you have an interesting perspective. I think your experience with elitism is very, very critical. I talk about this process of stigmatizing for-profit degrees as both a push and a pull. We have to think of these sectors of higher education as organizing in response to each other and not as these closed silos. Thank you, again, for sharing.

  4. I worked at a for profit, recently, and I found your analysis to be very interesting and disturbing. I understand how they work, students are essentially psychologically strong armed into paying the application fee. Once you get their butt in the seat, they do everything, and I mean everything, to keep you there. The new recruiting regulations have changed the emphasis from admissions to retention. I took classes through the university I worked at and felt they were worth about the same as taking a tutorial on microsoft. I never really worked hard at “school”, and my grades reflected this. I either got an A or an F, with the only support being someone in student services trying to strong arm me into taking another class, because that is all they know. The reps are listened to via mentors who critique everything from the greeting to the close. These schools are predatory in nature. Few graduate, and when they do, they don’t have the skills to compete with someone who was trained at a school that had academic freedom. They also have paid 10 times as much as they would have for an associates than if they had just gone to a community college. I took a Biology course at a for profit, and a Biology course at a community college. Hands down, I learned more at the community college. By a wide margin. Do you really want people who learned half @$$ed caring for you in a hospital, or working on your network? The for profits main excuse is that they serve a population that is underserved. Not to mention the money they are making off the taxing public. It’s a travesty and I cannot believe we as a nation have put up with it for so long. THey are now getting their long arms into public K-12 education. Just wait until your child goes to public school Univ of Phoenix Elementary. These children will have NO CHOICE in the matter though.

  5. I also worked at a for profit (ironically enough, while I was working on my education policy dissertation at a top 25 public R1). On the one hand, it was regularly said with all seriousness around my office that “we aren’t the target market”. I was in IT (loosely) and surrounded by people who came in with bachelors or higher from traditional schools. On the other, I could clearly see why the students that came to use enrolled with us instead of the community college down the street; we held their hand and helped them through a process of enrolling and financial aid that is arcane even to someone who has spent much of their career in the field.

    As a suburban, middle class, moderately high achieving kid I was taught about the FAFSA, the application processes, how to take tests like the SATs and other skill that would eventually provide me with the ability to navigate everything up to a PhD. However I know now that those topics are not on the curriculum for an awful lot of students. Without being taught those skills, the process seems overwhelming. Students don’t know that they might be eligible for aid and don’t know how to apply. Community colleges are not in a position to help them, as budgets are cut and with them the types of hands on service that the for profits excel at. Say what you will, but a student never signed up at university of phoenix without an advisor there to do everything up to (and sometimes including) typing the FAFSA information in.

    To me that inability of community colleges to serve these students is part of a national unwillingness to spend money on education. We see it in K-12 (and the resultant need for remedial courses in college) and it shows up in postsecondary as a confusing, arcane and unchanged system despite the technological advances in the rest of the world. The for profits saw a niche, a way to help these folks by way of a high-touch model and they executed on it. As they grew, it got away from them and into the high pressure model we see today, but even John Sperling (UoP) didn’t start out with that goal in mind.

    We have a challenge now; people talk about for profits leaching off the government, but the fact is that we as a nation seem unwilling to take that same money and put it into institutions without a profit motive that would serve that same market. Until the community colleges have the funding to provide that extra support, the students who need it will continue to go to the place that holds their hands while those who don’t need the help will choose a different path.

    1. Caitlin, what you say about hand-holding makes a lot of sense to me! I’m middle class, with both parents having college educations (which they got later in life, having both washed out of college on the first try), and I know the reason I’m not in grad school is because I was never told how to get in. I’m autistic, and bureaucracy is like an impenetrable barrier to me, so I really do need people to hold my hand and tell me how to fill out forms and so on.

      My high school actually gave me A LOT of help getting into college, and was probably the only reason I was able to do it. I went to school on a scholarship, so I never had to mess with the FAFSA, and the scholarship I got, I got because I scored high on a test that *all juniors* at my school had to take! So I never had to self-select into any group, which is critical because I probably wouldn’t have known to do so. In college, I failed to pursue any undergraduate research or talk to anyone about grad school, because I didn’t know I needed to do those things.

  6. Loved your essay — saw it after reading Matt Reed in IHE — sent this Tweet:

    Excellent “admissions” insights from, but not exclusively about, the for-profit side: a MUST READ

    Dan Lundquist
    FOLLOW @DanLundquist

  7. I have taught at a small private university, a state flagship, and as a grad student at an elite private. I also taught briefly at a for-profit. My experience is that the small private and the for-profit were very similar in recruitment and practice. The for-profit serves a specific group. The students I taught at the for-profit were almost all immigrants and/or ethnic minorities. The standards are lower, but for many of them, this was a way to leverage a credential to a better job or raise. In that sense, I think they were well served. Almost none of them were prepared for a more rigorous setting. They generally, with one memorable exception, seemed well aware of the cost/benefit of the path they were taking and felt it was a fair exchange. Similarly, the small private where I taught has a 16% default rate on loans and charges 20k+ a year with a mediocre graduation rate. I don’t see that it is morally superior to the for profit.

    1. If you know of a not-for-profit college whose admissions is structured similarly to that of for-profits, I’d really like to know what college so that I can add it to my sample. In a survey of many schools, I’ve not found that to be the case. Neither has the for-profit sector, actually. They pride themselves on the distinctiveness of their admissions process from that of traditional colleges. So, it would be a learning experience.

  8. I spent a year working at a proprietary institution as an academic advisor. When I was first hired, I was told that the school (which has quite a reputation locally for being sub par) was working to better the experience for students by providing more student support services. My role, I was told, was to help students maneuver through their program toward graduation, and I was told that as an advisor, I would not be held accountable for numbers.

    I left a year later, after my position had been posted twice without my knowledge because my numbers were not high enough. When students told me they needed to take one class rather than two because their personal life dictated cutting back, I respected it. When a student told me her husband had a heart attack and she needed to take off a term, I consoled her and told her I understood and we would be ready to work with her when she was ready. While I understand that completion is more likely with continuity, there is also a human factor one cannot deny.

    My other concern with this institution is that while they were excellent at helping students through the admissions process (as mentioned by a previous commenter), they offered next to no academic support once students were enrolled. Initially during my time there, there was no required assessment test; then, the Accuplacer (with exceedingly low cut-offs) was instituted. So many students who enrolled at this school were significantly under-prepared for college coursework, and those in charge just weren’t interested in developing a program to truly support student learning outside of the classroom … because of cost. Although I was told a program was being developed, it consisted of tutoring on Saturday mornings at the remote sites, or students could drive 45 minutes to the main center and hope to see a tutor there during business hours.

    This is the distinct difference between proprietary colleges and community colleges. While the population may be the same, the support services most definitely are more comprehensive at community colleges. Add to this the low cost of community colleges versus the sometimes staggering cost of proprietary institutions, and it’s clear to see that although for-profits might be great at helping students get started in college, they are, by in large, doing students a disservice by charging them a boat load of money for an inferior education, or even one that is impossible to complete given the students’ abilities.

    1. Ah, yes, I know the Accuplacer. I also remember those “graduation coach” positions. Both are rather classic examples of institutional myths and decoupling. Part of what I try to uncover is the gap between procedures and the reality of how these processes play out for folks. Thanks for bringing those two constructs back to my attention.

  9. I’ve worked as an instructor, for two years, at two for-profits. I teach writing intensive courses and provide feedback with my grading. Both schools offer a myriad of resources that are freely available to students – from online library access to video tutorials to learn how to improve writing skills. There are even services to direct students to counseling. Where my frustration lies is that students want a degree, however, they aren’t that keen about doing the work that it takes to earn one.

    Based on the narratives they write, most students did not do well in high school. They may have had a child as a teenager, had substance abuse issues, been incarcerated, etc. I commend them for wanting to turn their lives around and find a “good” job by going back to school and earning a degree. But, based upon my experience most are not equipped to make that transition from their current life situations into academic mode – no matter how diluted the curriculum. And, they aren’t asking for help.

    I would like to see students engaged in the learning process – their learning. Students will often write in their introduction that they are motivated to get their degree because they want to provide a better life for their children. Then they may end up not turning in assignments or dropping out altogether. What happened? I’d like to know about the student’s perspective.

  10. As a current student at a for-profit institution, I found your article very insightful. I can see where many of the responses are coming from. Perhaps I have been lucky with my instructors and feel I have recieved an education that made my time worth it. As a former military veteran (2 wars, Six years) I hate how the media has spun the situation to make it seem that my social peers as well as myself are being “preyed upon”. In fact as a military Team Leader, a well-read individual and a current IT Professional – I find it insulting.

    I decided a technical “for-profit” school was better for me as I wouldn’t have to be forced to participate in the extra-curricular crap associated with public universities. I knew walking in it was about them wanting to soak up my GI Bill. Just like I knew the Community College I attended (with a high GPA) wanted to also. Quite frankly – I got tired of some 45 year old bitter divorcee lecturing a classroom full of obnoxious spoiled piss-ants on the liberal interpretation of leadership.

    Also, I was sick of not being treated as an adult at a community college. I’ve led grown men in the battlefield. I’ve managed over 1.5 million dollars of mission critical assets at any given time. I’ve taken weeks strait of leadership development courses. I’ve been directly responsible for soldiers lives. I needed a piece of paper that would translate my expertise to employer terms.

    ITT did just that…and hell – at least they PAY taxes. Public Schools filter them to fat cat board directors and retirement packages for the establishment “in group”. All Schools are for profit.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment.

      In my work I try to always emphasize that most students I speak to do not feel victimized. Your perspective is not an outlier. I also suspect that any credential, when coupled with either military experience or a traditional degree, is less scrutinized by employers. There is no current way to measure that but accounts like yours are valuable in that they make us consider such things.

      If you’d ever be willing to be interviewed, I’d love to speak to you.

      1. Sure. I’d be up for that. I’m usually available point blank on Wednesdays. Depending on timezones we can chat on the phone.

        Send me an email at We can go from there. If anything I can share from my experiences can help shape our community and help with crafting insight that would be awesome!

        Again, I enjoyed your research. Keep up the good work!


  11. Your research and the peoples comments are very insightful and informative of the pro’s and con’s of for-profit schools. It really helps third parties like me to understand the issue. Thanks again for posting this!

  12. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH I ENJOYED READING THIS! You are spot on, my friend!!! That is exactly how the Admissions process works in the for profit sector of education. I worked for two schools prior to my current position, all as an Admissions Representative.
    School #1, great experience because I was fresh in the industry and I had a Director that was full of integrity and spunk and showed me everything I know and love about my career to this day. I would like to add that I am unabashedly very good at what I do. I received a trophy for the state of Texas my very first month in Admissions and I take extreme pride in my profession. I found you in an insomnia- fueled pursuit of sharpening my Admissions skills for cryin out loud 🙂
    Why am I up at this hour trying to become more effective in this career? It’s not because I’m an aggressive salesperson….well, I very much am, so that’s not 100% true! I’m an overachiever, competitive and yes, the metrics utilized to convert a lead into student who starts school do exist and are the standard processes in for profit admissions.
    We use that WHY (the fear, need for security or approval, or lifelong dream….whatever it may be) to keep the student focused and on track through the admissions process. We take each step with the ultimate goal of having the ‘lead turned student’ show up for class.
    Typically, at this point, the Admissions Rep can retire from working with that student and move on to smiling and dialing, calling those leads over and over, searching for students to fill the classes. On a side note, campus staffs tend to operate like a beautifully dysfunctional family and our instructor cousins rely on us to keep them employed by recruiting quality students who will stay in school and graduate.
    I don’t back down from what I said….I’m competitive and I do my best to drive myself to the top of the pile, no matter the endeavor. If I bagged groceries for a living I would be the employee going around to each person in the Bagging department asking them how many bags they went thru that day then I would figure out the proficiency necessary to bag more efficiently than my cohorts. Without breaking anything. And I would listen and learn what to do and what NOT to do to get tips and provide stellar customer service. It’s in my nature, just not with people’s lives.

    After a short time, I resigned from that second school (by the way, that great Director from my first school also accepted a position at this second school and resigned a short time later as well).
    I was done with for profit admissions for ever and I meant it!!!!!

    Then, out of the blue, I’m standing in my kitchen and I get a call from…you guessed it….A HEADHUNTER. Yes, hella cool :))
    And guess what? The structure of what she does is exactly the same as what I do! I was a lead (who thrilled her heart when I answered and didn’t hang….nature of the beast….you know exactly what I’m talking about!) and she converted me from a lead into a placement. She saved my future, and the lives of countless students who were once leads, with one phone call. Because she was good at what she did.
    With much push back, she convinced me to apply for this culinary school in Austin, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Cut to the chase, I was hired and my life and views on for profit education and the admissions process did an about face. For the first time in my life I TRULY believed in what I was doing to earn my money. It felt amazing! I had finally found MY passion! Then idiocy struck…
    After 2.5 years with the school I reluctantly resigned to move away for that relationship that never works out becasue you move away for it. Yes, I did.
    After an unfulfilling year and a half away from Escoffier I couldn’t take it anymore. So, I emailed my old boss and told him I wanted my job back. And I got it because I’m good at turning that lead into an appointment and that appointment into an enrollment and that enrollment into a student that starts and that student into a graduate because I care throughout the process. I’m there when their mom dies, I’m there when an unwanted pregnancy happens, I’m there when mom misses her baby and needs a shoulder to cry on, I’m there if they need me. No matter what.

    Because I committed to their future before they ever answered my first call.

    Today I proud to say that I have many graduates who own restaurants and bakeries and breweries….the very things they told me were their hopes and dreams on that first call. And yes, I referred to the words they told me many times over the course of their education, particularly keeping them focused on getting to that first day of class. They can’t finish if they don’t start.
    I can recall most of my first calls. I can recall their interviews. I can even recall tracking down their moms and dads and baby daddies to try to find them. I don’t do any of this because I’m on a sales force. I do this because my calling is to work with students who are motivated enough to educate themselves in an environment that fits them. Well fitted, comfortable and supported students graduate.
    Today I get to work with students from all walks of life…..fresh high school graduates with bright eyes and shopping parents, nurses and doctors, attorneys, welfare recipients, insurance agents, orphans and women looking for a way out of an abusive relationship. I put a blind student through both pastry and culinary school and she has gone on to help others who are blind see that boundaries are sometimes made to be crossed.
    And guess what? EACH AND EVERY STUDENT, REGARDLESS OF HOW THEY PRESENT TO YOU, IS SCARED. But they are people of such fortitude that they don’t let that fear block their passion, dreams and goals. Or their job security, be it the case. And for that, I am one very proud Admissions Advisor who is grateful God chose me for every student I’ve worked with because I’m the one whose life ends up getting impacted the most.
    The admissions process is designed to put butts in seats, yes. Because if they aren’t in my school satisfying that internal fear, insecurity, pride or passion that drove them there…..they would be somewhere out there wallowing in it. Thanks for the perspective, great read.

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