Hello. I am a former student of the University of Phoenix and a former Academic Counselor for Axia College for the University of Phoenix at the online division for the Southeast which includes states such as Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Tennessee ect. (I will also say that my husband was a student at the University of Phoenix and is a newly dismissed employee for the same division as of 8/20/2010)
Let's start with my career as a student at the University of Phoenix. I became a student at the University of Phoenix to further my education. I began classes at the Phoenix Main Campus on April 10, 2002. My degree program was Bachelors of Arts in Business Management. I graduated in April 2007. My enrollment counselor at the time of admissions was Lillian Corona (Yep like the beer). She enrolled me and I never heard from her again. As for my academic counselors I can't say that I heard all that much from them either. I do know that they sure changed an awful lot in those five years. As for my finance counselor, honestly all I can say about that one is that he/or she was a total incompetent. My financial aid account was always in a mess and really no one was able to help me or wanted to help me no matter what inquires I made. I would always end up owing the University money because they overpaid me in refunds. While my financial aid monies stayed the same, my tuition kept increasing for so-called improvements to the program. At this time I had about $50K worth of financial aid debt. I can say as a ground student I did learn some things that were helpful, made some decent contacts.
Now for my Masters Degree in Business Administration, that is a total different ball of wax so to speak. I was due to start work for the University of Phoenix online division on June 4, 2007. During the hiring phase for the University of Phoenix I was informed that all employees in good standing were eligible for a tuition waiver for class expenses and a discount on rEsource fees. When I went to enroll in the MBA program I informed my enrollment counselor that I was due to began work on 06/04/2007 and I wanted to start classes after that point so that I was able to utilize the employee tuition waiver. I was informed by the enrollment counselor that they ONLY had one class for my degree program that started on May 29, 2007 unless I wanted to go to class online. I stated that I did not think online was for me, so she stated if I did not start on May 29, 2007 I would have to wait several months to start class. She stated that I would be able to use a tuition waiver for the classes if my manager approved a back date on waiver that could be applied to my tuition.
At this point is sounded great, so I enrolled and started class on 5/29/2007. Within two weeks I received a bill for $1500 tuition plus rEsourse fee of $95. At this point I began training to become a Academic Counselor for Axia College for the University of Phoenix online campus. After two weeks in class, I had yet to talk to any academic or finance counselor as a student, so I contacted my bachelor's program finance counselor to see about the charges on my student account. I discussed with them the charges on my account and my tuition waiver that had been approved the second week of training. I was told that it would be taken care of but it took accounting a little time to apply the waiver. At this time I became uneasy about finishing the class, but was reassured that it would be taken care of and if I was to withdraw from the class it would then become an out of pocket expense as tuition waivers do not cover dropped classes. SO I completed the class in early July.
Upon completion of this class, I refused to start my second due the fact that the tuition waiver had yet to be applied to my account. I was contacted at work by the enrollment counselor that I had not heard from since I had enrolled in class a few months earlier. With her and the finance counselor urgings I decided that I would start my second class. What I did not know was that the enrollment counselor would not get what is called registration credit to help meet their monthly sales quota if I did not start my second class and at least complete two weeks. Within the week of starting my second class I received a bill for $3000 for tuition and $175 for rEsource fee. At this point I was panicking about the fees on my account. I contacted my finance counselor and enrollment counselor. It took 3-4 days for the finance counselor to get back to with me, the enrollment counselor has yet to call me as of today. Basically what I was informed that the tuition waiver did not apply to the first class so I owed them the $1, 600 for class and it needed to be paid within two weeks or they would have to start the collections process, but on the upside, the tuition waiver had already been applied to the second class and rEsource fees, so I only owed $45. So here due to mistakes yet again made on the part of incompetence of a finance counselor and enrollment counselor I owed money that I did not have, so I was forces to take yet another loan of financial aid.
In January of 2009 I became ill and was unable to attend several classes in my degree program. Once I was able to return to class I was kindly informed that my degree program was obsolete and no longer offered on any ground campus, they had basically updated the program to a newer version. Upon talking with my academic counselor, once I had actually found out who they actually were, I was informed that to continue on ground campus I would have to update my program to the newer version and if I updated my program 9 of my older version MBA credits were unusable and there were no equivalence of those 9 credits in the newer MBA program. The only option that I had at this point was to transfer to the online campus who still offered the older MBA program where all my credits were still applicable.
At this time even though I knew online was not for me, due to a couple of reasons but I wanted to finish this program so I was forced to transfer to the online campus. In my online classes I can honestly tell you that I learned absolutely nothing. Toward the end of my first online class my tuition waiver was revoked for a work discussion memo/write up about performance, so I was forced to rely on financial aid to finish my program or lose the credits I had obtained due to the fact that they were not transferrable to another college. Classes were not going to cost me $1900 a class for tuition and $95 for rEsource.
For the first couple of classes I worked my ### off for the grades, but the learning teams were from all parts of the country and some were military spouses stationed in foreign countries, so we were always missing each other. Many of the learning team members had learned by then how little they had to do, so they seldom did much work and the others had to make up the difference. The instructors had little interaction with the students; feedback was hard to get in a timely manner, and questions were seldom answered about assignment. It was basically teaching yourself your MBA program. If I had wanted to teach myself, I wouldn't be spending $2K for a class and left owing HUGE financial aid debts. At this time I spent weeks trying to get a hold of a academic counselor who could help me as mine was not ever available or returned calls as nor did their managers. Each academic counselor would promise to help and nothing was ever done as far as I know because it kept happening.
By the time I finished my second class, I did not give a damn. I became the type of student that I had always complained about and got by on doing as little as possible. I no longer answered discussion questions, helped very little with learning team assignments and seldom turned in individual paper on time or at all. If I didn't want to do it, I didn't do it which was most of the time. I graduated with my MBA in December 2009 with a 3.0. Also upon the completion of my program, due to a miscalculation on behalf of the financial aid/accounting office I had a return to lender for $6K of my funds, which at this point almost a year later has yet to be properly explained to me. I am left owing money to University of Phoenix. This is money that I refuse to pay. I have been sent to collections, and honestly I don't care.
NOW as for working for the University of Phoenix that is a different ball game. I went through the hiring phase for the University of Phoenix in May of 2007. Once I completed the hiring phase I was offered a position as an academic counselor making $32, 500 a year. At the time it was more than I was making and I needed the job. I had just completed my bachelors program in April of that year. So on June 4, 2007 I began training for Axia College for the University of Phoenix as a academic counselor for the online division. First off I had never heard of Axia College, but quickly learned that it was an associates program only offered online. Secondly up until this point I did not know that University of Phoenix had an online division.
After the first week of training I spent a few hours for the latter three days that week shadowing actually academic counselors who already worked on the floor. It seemed easy enough and looked interesting and challenging. At the end of the second week I was assigned to the Southeast Division for the online campus. Once I hit the floor, I discovered that although I had a finance counselor I did not have an enrollment team, and would not have one for about 8 weeks as the last enrollment manager had stepped down and the enrollment team had been reassigned. My first 6 months working for the University of Phoenix went smoothly enough. I liked my job, my manager, my finance counselor, and my enrollment team, even though I was not too crazy about the enrollment manager. During my first review I had did excellent and more than met the standards that applied to Axia employees for academics. During my second six months I won an Outstanding Academic Counseling Award, I won a Top Academic Counselor award, and became a Certified Mentor for new academic counselors. During my second review I also did fairly well.
During the next six months, my manager acquired more students that was supposed to be disbursed to the 8 teams she was assigned to manage. My manager asked if I would like to have some of these students added to my original team of students. I jumped at the challenge. What I did not know and was not told was these student were not to be assigned to the academic team of 8, but they were creating a 9th team for my manager to mange, and I was to be assigned to a second team of 450+ students, a second finance counselor and 7 additional enrollment counselors. So not only did I have a second team of 450+ students, but my original team had 500+ students, a finance counselor, and 7 enrollment counselors. Needless to say that I was starched real thin between 900+ students, 2 finance counselors, and 14 enrollment counselors. I am ashamed to say, that some of the students did not received timely academic service.
(Basically there are 4 areas that an academic counselor is graded on. The 1st area are HARD SKILLS; which include the team load of assigned students and how many of those students are in class, how many new start students are in class for the required 180 days, how many students are actually posting attendance into their assigned classes each week. The 2nd are SOFT SKILLS; which include intern/external communication both written and oral, how many calls are made per day, how many hours you talk to your students, how your manager judges your IS3 activities which are computer generated tasks that must be completed for each student each day. The 3rd are PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SKILLS; which include going to workshops, classes and such. The 4th are QUALITY ASSURANCE: which include a system for scoring calls when the counselor talks with the student.) So during this management of two teams review period I did excellent and my manager put me in for a whopping 10% pay increase in which I received and began making $38, 900 a year.
It was during the end of my second year review that I voluntary resigned from the second team and it was reassigned to another academic counselor. About this time I began learning more about my enrollment team and their manager because their enrollment numbers were beginning to affect my review. On several occasions I heard the enrollment manager tell his counselors to "dangle the Pell Grant to the student like a carrot and refer to it as free money". I have also overheard the enrollment manager tell my enrollment counselors to "enroll that student NO MATTER WHAT" even when the enrollment counselor had specifically informed the enrollment manager that the student stated that they did not have an G.E.D. or a valid high school diploma (which are supposedly requirement for Title IV funding). I have heard from the enrollment manager things like "if it has a heartbeat enroll it". The enrollment team has also placed an APIN status students (which means students that are waiting for verification of high school diploma or G.E.D, application for admissions, along with all the other required documents for admission) into REG status (which means admissions has received and approved all documents for the student and eligible for admissions to the University, and that finance has approved the student to financially be able to pay for the classes and also attend said classes) without approval from admissions or finance and the student starting these classes without approval from admission or finance and having to be pulled from classes. I have also overheard the enrollment manager sexually harass his female employees by saying that "so and so has a nice ###" or "let's get so and so join our baseball team so we can watch their boobs giggle"
Beginning in or around April 2009, financial aid fraud students from Mississippi and a few other states were beginning to make a hit on the Southeast Division. Basically what happened was a person would go around to like government assisted housing and offer to help people "get free money" by helping the person enroll in the University of Phoenix and Axia College, fill out the financial aid paperwork for a small fee from their financial aid refund. These people were to enroll, apply for financial aid but want to manage their own financial aid funds, make sure to attend class by checking in (which basically mean leaving a message that states I am in class today). During the time it was taking the financial aid department to certify these students for their funding the academic counselor would receive notices from the instructors from about these students failing there classes by not doing any of the work. These students were calling the finance department several times a week's wanting to know when their funds would be certified, how long before the funds were received by the university, and when they could expect their refund checks. At this same time academic, enrollment, and finance counselors were noticing that these students had the same phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses. Once in class, students stopped answering phones or we were told that no one by that name lived there. Then when the funds were received on the students account at University of Phoenix the students would begin calling again badgering finance when were their checks were going to mailed and how much were the checks going to be for. Once the students received their checks the cashed them at check cashing places and disappeared of the face of the earth. Telephone numbers were disconnected; email addresses were closed or stopped being used.
If the student failed the first class and their financial aid had not been received they contacted the enrollment counselor and finance counselor to restart class so that they financial aid would process, because if a student is not in class during the certification of funds, the process is stopped until they are back into class. Financial arrangements were then made to allow the student back into a class that they failed, but the same process happened again. With all this fraud going on I knew that I would have a substandard review and as per company policy I would be receiving a deduction in pay. Two weeks following my review ending the company changed the policy that employees would no longer receive pay reeducations for substandard reviews but it did not apply to me. During this review period I did receive a sub-standard review in which my pay was to be decreased by 10% to $32, 215 which was less that I made coming into the University of Phoenix and less than an new academic counselor out of training made at $35K a year.
Also during this review period I had become ill and was placed on FMLA for 2 weeks, then was approved for intermittent FMLA which allowed so many days off as prescribed by the doctor. When my review was completed the company had not taken into consideration the FMLA time I had to take off and that no one was working my team. It had been left stagnate and I was unable to obtain my goals because of this. This review was due to be processed for the end of May 31, 2009 but was not received until September 2009 which was 2 months before my next review was due, so I was really at a loss as to what my new review goals would be.
At this point the manager that I liked became a real horse's ###. If I took an intermittent FMLA day, when I came back I was crossed examined by my manger, which is against HR policy. My manage would make very hostile remarks about me and my taking a approved FMLA day. Finally when I got fed up I reported it to my manager's supervisor who told me to work it out with my manager. At this time my whole academic team became to suffer from lack of proper management. The team had to become totally self-reliant because our manager became scarce, she no longer helped us when we needed help, she was always acting weird. She would go days without talking to anyone on the team. She no longer held team meetings so we could discuss problems and strategies. She came to work telling people extremely personal business, showing up at her employee's houses asking for a place to crash for the night, trying to borrow money from her employees. When we complained to upper managements, we got no answers so we learned to work without a manager and no longer went to her for anything. It took over six months of this type of behavior from my manager for her finally to be terminated. We were then assigned to a temporary manager who actually told the whole team that "our old manager was terminated due to drug use and taking her personal life to other employees". We were then promised that we would receive the cream of the crop for a manger and that she was proud of us for sticking it out.
After about 3-4 weeks we were assigned a new manager and this would have been mid August 2009. It was hard to trust a manager at this time, but we gave him the benefit of the doubt. As I took my first FMLA day and returned, I was called into my new manager's supervisor's office. I was accused of not following FMLA protocol and I was to be written up. Before this point nobody had informed me of the process I needed to go through to report that I was taking an FMLA day as my previous manager didn't get together with me and HR to go over the FMLA process. This was done within a few days of my returning. From August to November 2009 when I would take my FMLA days, I would strictly adhere to HR policy on FMLA protocol. But upon returning to work, I came back to a hostile manager who would make snide and cutting remarks such as "if all of his employees would be here every day like they should the team as a whole would be better" he would also point out that "other academic counselors were being overwhelmed by his employees missing days". I know for a fact that these remarks were geared toward me and one other academic counselor who were FMLA absent from time to time. I would also receive the silent treatment and the cold shoulder when I asked questions. I would get cutting emails telling me to do the research when I would email a question to the manager. I them reported this treatment to my new managers supervisor. She informed me not to bother her with petty complaints and take it to HR. I contacted HR to try to see who to talk to but was unable to get an answer as to who to speak with to file a complaint.
It was under this new manager that I received the November 2009 review on January 2010. I received a second substandard review, and my FMLA time had not been taken into consideration again. At this time I was placed on a performance review and had until February 26, 2010 to bring up my substandard or be possibly terminated. During this time I was out most of the time on FMLA due to health issues that I ran out of time in early March, but was unable to return to work. On or around March 9th, 2010 I received a phone call from HR that deals with FMLA. I was also called by a person from an employee relations representative that is enable to fire employees. I then called both of them back and I was told that University of Phoenix would accept my resignation. I talked with the HR representative and the employee relations representative about me requiring surgery. The HR representative stated that she was and would willing to work with me to get me additional time off and then help me get back to work. All three of us were in agreement. On Friday, March 12, 2010 I was called and informed by the employee relation representative that the University of Phoenix had decided to terminate me anyway and that my services were no longer required.
In the last year working for the University of Phoenix academic counselors have become required to do sales. We were required to ask for leads to potential students for other students. We were to take their names, addresses and phone numbers and turn this information over to enrollment. So basically said we were required to do enrollments job also, which is strictly to sale the University of Phoenix's product which is education.
SO I want to warn potential students and employees to really think about your decision to become a student or work for the University of Phoenix. You might just regret that decision, I did.