These are not the kinds of things that academics admit to. That is why I have spent two years tied up in knots about merging my lived experiences with my data. But, even if I didn’t have years of experience working in for-profit colleges I would be closer to recent stories than most.
My cousin is enrolled in Everest. I begged her not to but how do you piss vinegar on the dreams of someone you love? You don’t and there isn’t enough erudition in the world to change that. Two months ago she saw a post on my Facebook about Corinthian’s financial/regulatory troubles. As one does where I’m from, she had her mother call my mother to find out what was going on. That call traveled 300 miles to find out what she hadn’t been told at the school that’s five miles from her in central North Carolina.
Another family member is enrolled in Strayer. She is a veteran and a single mom. She knows what I study but thinks it’s about people like my cousin who are working on certificates and not people like her who are working on graduate degrees.
In the communities I have participated in for over two years now, the cognitive dissonance is stunning but not. Students enrolled in for-profit doctorate programs are shaking their heads at those poor Everest students.
For two years now I have been writing a book. It has been a struggle precisely because I did not know where I stopped and the research began. The first draft aimed for lofty erudition. It failed like heavy cake. The second draft was so self-concious about being “one of them” that I qualified every sentence with fifteen footnotes. People – real, important scholarly people – told me I should not write books. I don’t have the right title or the right pedigree. Only they’ve said it more meanly. But I wrote the book because I know too many people who cannot write their books. I am related to some of them. In the end the book is research, a lot of it. But it is also a story, a personal one. Kinda like the whole mess of a failed markets allowed to fail the most vulnerable of us is about both numbers and stories.
If you are wondering what happens next for you as a Corinthian student please visit https://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation/closed-school and https://debtcollective.org