Kaplan University — fraud and cheating
I became a student at Kaplan sometime in the middle of August 2007. I have taken four classes before I realized that the school was not worth the money charged. I was completely aware of the fact that Kaplan University is a for profit organization however, I expected a certain level of service and higher level of education for the price I was paying. Being a for profit organization does not absolve the company from delivering what it promises to the students. However, my experience with Kaplan was nothing short of a nightmare. I enrolled as a cash pay student and paid off the cost of my tuition for each term a few weeks before the start of the term. Yet, my account, my personal information and my student records were not merely mishandled but also forged. I am a recent graduate from a state university, a dedicated student who has graduated with honors. Foolishly I decided to pursue my education with Kaplan hoping it would be more convenient. Based on my experience, I have enough knowledge to compare the quality of education and services provided by Kaplan to those of a state university. This is based on my experience solely and yours may be different, however, judging by the numerous complaints and desperate cries of students, I am not the only one.
Kaplan University is a for profit organization. It is a very expensive school compared to state universities that offer online classes. Most bachelor programs require 120-130 credits and have classes that last about fifteen weeks with average credits for classes ranging between three and four. Kaplan has ten week terms with about five to six credits per class and about 180 credits to receive a bachelor’s degree. So, logically Kaplan has shorter classes that are worth more credits and higher credit requirements compared to state universities. When questioned about such high credit requirements, Kaplan’s admission representative stated that since there are only ten weeks to a term students will reach 120-130 credit range before meeting their requirements so Kaplan has increased their graduation requirements. However, since the cost of class is per credit, this raises the cost to astronomical proportions.
Therefore, the student is taking a smaller class load and paying a lot more money for it. The logical solution for Kaplan would be to lower the amount of credits granted per class. Instead of having a ten week class that is worth five or six credits, lower the credits to three or four, that way students won’t amass so many credits and Kaplan could keep the graduation requirements similar to those of other state universities. However, that would lower the cost per class and affect Kaplan’s profits. Students must be aware of this hidden cost and keep in mind that they are essentially paying more for less. In addition, if an individual decided to transfer their Kaplan credits to a state university, most of those five and six credit classes would transfer as three and four credit classes. With Kaplan’s current tuition costs at over $300.00 per credit, students will essentially be paying for credits that cannot be transferred. And at such a cost, this is simply a waste of money.
QUALITY OF EDUCATION.
Many students are lured to online universities in hopes of getting their degree in a convenient fashion. True, online classes are more convenient than lectures but the quality of your education depends partially on you, the student. Just like Kaplan, many state universities offer online degrees and online classes for less than Kaplan.
Kaplan’s curriculum and level of education is by far no more superior to that of a state university. In many cases, it is even lower despite the dedicated professors. Students are given weekly assignments, required to participate in discussions and attend a weekly seminar that is supposed to mimic a lecture.
These weekly seminars are nothing more than a chat room full of students talking about their days and their families with a desperate instructor trying to keep the class on track. Half of the times the instructor is simply overwhelmed by the amount of questions he or she is bombarded with and can only respond to a few. Even though these seminars are supposed to provide a learning environment, they provide very little on the topic discussed.
Reading the discussion postings and responses from students shows that some people have not attained the basic English writing skills middle school students should have. Spelling and grammatical errors plague majority of the posts. Half of those posts clearly show that the student either did not read the material or fully understand it. Many lack organization and logical pattern of thought. To think that a college student would mistake “their” and “there” is ludicrous. Many of these students would not even be admitted to a state college for lack skill, yet they ace the class. Clearly Kaplan admission reps are required to accept any individual that shows even the slightest interest despite the fact that some of these people barely speak English.
Convenience is also a debatable aspect. During the weekly seminar, the system would kick off most if not all of the students and force them to re-enter class. This would happen every seminar and several times per seminar. So when deciding whether Kaplan University is worth $300.00 per credit keep in mind that you are not paying for a better education, compared to other state universities, nor convenience.
In order to enroll at Kaplan I have provided school officials with a lot of personal information ranging from my school records to my credit card numbers. As with any organization that collects personal information, I expected a certain level of confidentiality and professionalism. However, from the very start there were issues with my account. I have taken one class in the first term (Sept.-Dec.), two classes my second term (Dec.-Feb.) and one class my third term (Feb.-May).
I enrolled in my first term which started sometime towards the end of September. I paid my tuition in full with a credit card on August 28, weeks before the start of the first term. Sometime in November I received an enormous bill . I called student financial office and was told that the bill included my tuition for the first term and the second term. I was able to prove that I have already paid for the first term and told the representative to charge my credit card for the second term.
By the end of January or beginning of February I got another bill for a ridiculous amount. I checked online and my bill online a little less than what I had on paper. I called student finance office again and asked what was included in my bill. I was told that the cost included my first, second and third terms. I have talked to a representative and tried to prove that I paid for my first and second term. She seemed very confused and I told her to charge me for the one class that I was taking during the third term. The cost should have been $1920.00 but she charged me $1600.00. She told me to give her a call about the remainder of the bill (about $5000.00). I said that I did not understand what the bill was for but she was unable to explain to me. Towards the end of the week I called the finance office again and asked to speak with another rep about the bill since the first rep had no idea what she was talking about. I was transferred over to the first rep I spoke with and she kept insisting that I still owed that money but could not tell me for what. I was able to prove to her that I paid for the first and second term by providing credit card statements and that all I had to pay was for the third term, which was one class and I have already been charged $1600.00 for.
I demanded that she transfer me to a supervisor. After being transferred three or four times I managed to get to a supervisor and she was able to explain to me that when I enrolled in the summer they have opened two accounts for me and I was being double charged and that my payments were reflecting in one account only. She did not apologize for the mistake, she went on to blame me saying that I registered too late for the September term and that was why the mistake was made. The only reason I registered for the September term because the admissions rep was pressuring me to do so and had I known that it would cause me a problem I would have postponed my enrollment. But she told me she would consolidate my account and I would have nothing to worry about.
A week later I got a letter stating that I owed Kaplan about $4000.00. I went online to see what I owed and the bill online stated that I owed Kaplan about $3200.00. Again I called the finance office and spoke with a gentleman who told me I owed Kaplan about $3500.00. I told him it was impossible and asked him what the bill was for. He was unable to give me any answers and I asked to speak to a supervisor. After being transferred to several people I finally managed to reach the supervisor and she explained that it was yet another mistake and that all I owed was $320.00 because my third term was six credits and not five and the rep charged me the wrong amount. Again there was no apology. By now I have had enough and decided that I did not want to go over the same process my fourth term and decided to withdraw.
I have contacted academic advising center and was told I had to talk to my academic advisor and that she is the only one who could help me, even though I have never spoken with her. I tried contacting her and she was unavailable. I was told I had to set up an appointment with her. So the individual I who was scheduling the appointment for me, checked my advisor’s schedule and we set up a mutually convenient time to talk on Friday evening. I waited all evening for the call and no one called. No one called me on Monday either. I figured I would wait until the end of the week and contact someone once more.
By Wednesday, my academic advisor calls me in the middle of my work day, does not apologize or even give a remote explanation why she never made our appointment. She tells me that she will email me instructions with contact information for various departments so I could contact them to be officially withdrawn. I told her that I wanted to finish my third term since I paid for it and withdraw after I receive my grade. She told me it was not a problem. She also stated that I need to set up an appointment with her supervisor for the exit interview. We set up the appointment for the following Monday. I received the email and followed all of her instructions and on Monday I was waiting for the senior advisor to call me.
I waited on Monday night and no one called me. I emailed my advisor stating that I completed everything on the list, contacted all the necessary departments but was unable to speak with the senior academic advisor since he or she never kept the appointment. No one called me until Wednesday. On Wednesday I received a message from my academic advisor stating that she saw me access my class and wanted to know if I planned to finish my third term. I have already discussed with her that I wanted to finish my third term. I called her back and as usual was unable to reach her so I set up an appointment with her. I informed the individual setting up the appointment that I would not be at home and left my work number specifically instructing to call me at work since I would not be at home. Since I have to work around her schedule the least she could do is call me at work. I also emailed her stating that I wanted to finish the third term and withdraw after the third term. I also confirmed in the email that I set up an appointment on Friday.
No one calls me at work on Friday. I waited all day and nothing. I wrote my advisor another email saying how upset I was since this is the third appointment that was not kept. I informed her again that I have contacted all the departments and have not had any issues so I could safely assume that after this term I am fully withdrawn. I restated once more that I want to finish the term. Once I got home I found a message on my answering machine from my advisor, even though I had made it clear that I would be at work and provided all the necessary numbers. I have kept all the emails of our correspondence that clearly show that I planned to finish the term, as proof of my frustration with Kaplan.
Next week I didn’t hear anything from Kaplan. I tried to contact my advisor once more and was told to set up yet another appointment. I informed the individual I was speaking with that I was not going to set up any more pointless appointments and no longer wanted to work with my advisor. I informed in individual once more that I planned to finish the term and withdraw after that and wanted nothing to do with Kaplan. She told me it was not a problem and she would put that in my file.
On Saturday I tried accessing my class to work on an assignment only to learn that I have been blocked from my class. I called the advisor hotline and talked to a lady who told me that I withdrew from Kaplan. I spent twenty minutes convincing her that I planned to finish the term and that I had the emails to prove that. She finally informed me that she was unable to help me and I had to speak with my academic advisor who was unavailable.
On Monday I call the advisor hotline again and demand to be put back into my class since I paid for it. I was told again, that the only person who could help me was my academic advisor. I informed the gentleman that I no longer wished to work with that woman. After spending most of my morning trying to get back into my class I was finally granted access. When I came home I had a message on my answering machine from my academic advisor rudely stating that I was withdrawn because I did not attend class for over 21 days. Yet I have been attending several times a week and had discussion postings with the date and time stamped proving that I accessed the class barely three days ago. Furthermore, she called me less than a week before blocking my access saying she saw me access my class. She was fully aware of the fact that I intended to finish the term and I had emails to prove that. She also knew that I did attend class regularly. My academic advisor was either completely incompetent or simply malicious. I emailed her informing that it was simply not true and I could prove that I accessed my class regularly. I had heard nothing from her since then except for the one message she left on my cell phone for another student.
After such a debacle I accessed my class regularly, participated in the seminars, discussions, took my final exam and wrote my final essay and my final project and had submitted them to the professor. The last week of class I would sign on daily to see if my grades were posted and two days before the end of the term my account was blocked once again.
I called the advisor hotline again and spoke with a gentleman stating that I needed my grade. He informed me that I dropped the class two days before it ended. I informed him that he was mistaken and could prove that. All I wanted was the grade that I paid for, worked for and earned. All I needed was a grade for my one class for the third term. He told me he would escalate the issue to his supervisor and I would hear something in a few days. I waited a week for the phone call and no one called me. So I called once more and talked to another man who told me the same thing. I explained to him that it was ridiculous for me to work so hard, complete all my work and withdraw two days prior to the end of class. I told him I could prove that I intended to finish the class and sent him copies of all the emails. He told me he would get back to me on Monday.
By Tuesday I am contacting a third academic advisor and she has been working with me to resolve this issue ever since. She has been very polite and helpful but I still don’t have my grade. She has also told me that I have called an academic advisors and spoke with someone named Debra and demanded that I be withdrawn by Kaplan two days before the end of the term. She said that there is a detailed conversation recorded in my file. I told her that I never called two days before the end of the term, I never spoke with a Debra and that record is fraudulent. It would not make sense for me to demand to be withdrawn before I received my grade. Why would I complete all the work, work so hard to be reinstated in the class the first time I was withdrawn only to request to be dropped before I got my grade? I reviewed my phone records and there was no calls made to Kaplan on that day. Someone went into my file and created a fictitious conversation so they could block me from my class. She also told me that since the instructor received a notice of withdrawal two days before the end of the term he did not bother grading two ten page papers I submitted and I had to wait for him to come back from his vacation and grade my papers.
Yesterday I got an email from the advisor who was finally able to make any headway with this issue and she told me I would be able to access my class today and see my grade. I tried to log into my class two minutes ago and am still getting a message that my account is blocked. And I still don’t have my grade.
So those of you who are planning to attend Kaplan consider all your options. Make sure you do some serious research. And despite what people say, that Kaplan is for profit does not mean that Kaplan can just take my money and not provide me the services. Every company, for profit or not, has a duty to provide the services customers pay for otherwise they are simply thieves. My situation was fairly simple, I registered and I paid cash and this is the resulting mess. What if I had financial aid, loans, grants or other issues? I could only imagine the tangled nightmare that my life would have been.
Consider this, I paid well over $6000.00 for the four classes I took and this is what I bargained for. I don’t know if I will be able to get my grade and it has been over a month. But I will be contacting the Board of Education and anyone else who will listen to make sure that Kaplan does not steal from another unsuspecting student. If any one of you reading this has been dealing with Kaplan and are having issues, contact the Better Business Bureau, write to the Board of Education, and contact your Attorney General and anyone else who can help.