National American University : Under Pressure

I will never again work for a proprietary (for-profit) university or college.

This is just one reason


What follows  is just a snippet of a US Senate Report that describes the life of an “Admissions Representative” at NAU.  It’s from 2012, but I doubt much has changed.


“One of NAU’s recruiting handbooks produced to the committee instructed recruiters check for leads “at a minimum every 15 minutes [emphasis in original].”   Once a recruiter took responsibility for a lead, he or she had to call the lead three times the day the lead was discovered, another time the next day, and another time the same week until the lead answered or called back. Recruiters were instructed to send an introductory email on the first day, probe for information via email on the second day, and establish office hours via email sometime during the first week.

A training manual for new admissions representatives stated that representatives were “expected to devote a minimum of four hours per day to telephone contact work (setting appointments, follow-up, etc.).”

Once NAU recruiters made a phone call, they were instructed to “create a sense of urgency and initiate the follow-up.”

Recruiters can create a sense of urgency if they ask questions such as, “Tell me what your life would be like if you let another 5 years go by without getting your degree.”

Recruiters were also instructed to “counter at least 5 objections.”  If cost was the objection, recruiters should respond with, “We are talking about an investment in your future, not a cost.”

Recruiters were also instructed not to give out complete program costs and instead give only a credit hour rate.  If lack of interest was the objection, recruiters should respond with, “What is it your not interested in [sic]? Is it increasing your income, financial investments, increasing your knowledge, etc.? Let’s spend some time having you visit the school and determine where your interests may lie.”

Recruiters were instructed that when countering these objections and providing information about NAU they should “give buyers enough information, and no more, about your solution and how it will benefit them, to convince them that they are justified in buying.”   The training manual stated:

We must remember that if giving out the information over the phone worked, we would all just do that! Here is what we also need to be reminded of: “Information does not sell, people do AND people do not buy features, they buy benefits.” So, the first step to telephone success is to convince ourselves our prospects are calling for help and guidance NOT information. So, let’s respond to their “cry for help” by enticing them to come in and see the benefits of an education! [emphasis in original].

The training manual continued, “The best information piece is one that gives NO detailed information and answers NO questions” [emphasis in original]. Instead, the goal of a phone conversation is to “set up a face-to-face interview.”

Recruiters were pushed hard to have a positive first phone call with a prospective student because “it usually costs a university approximately $150 to generate each lead.”  “If we let the receptionist take a message and tell the prospect someone will get back to them, the likelihood of them going on and calling another school increases greatly.”

The training manual for new admissions representatives noted, “It is important to remember that every business must include good customer service!”

 The university suggested finding additional leads at places such as “Hair Salons,” “Ethnic Celebrations or Centers,” and “Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, etc.—any stores that may have people that need to get an education.”

The business focus in for-profit colleges’ recruiting practices may lead to pressure on recruiters to admit students who should not be attending the school. For example, the Associate Director of NAU’s Wichita campus noted that she would be watching several students carefully before issuing refunds because she was concerned they enrolled “to get money & what usually happens is once they receive their FA refund they stop attending classes.”

That pressure may also have led recruiters to lie about the school’s degree offerings. In one instance, a recruiter told a prospective student the school had an excellent medical assisting program and got the student to enroll.  After being confused about getting placed in accounting, the student discovered the campus did not yet have approval for the medical assisting program and that the student was instead placed in the school’s healthcare management program. In a letter to the school, the student wrote that the admissions representative “lied to me in order to get my business” and that many students had the same thing happen.  In its response to the student complaint, NAU said the student was informed the campus did not yet have a medical assisting program before enrolling and “could have declined” the academic dean’s suggestion to take accounting. NAU did not refund the student’s money.”


After a few months, I couldn’t live with the guilt that comes with being a part of that kind of scheme.  For profits prey on single parents, low income families, the military, adult learners.

I do give NAU credit for one thing.  They set me on the path I try to follow today.  I am determined to enhance the educational experience of nontraditional studens and create programs and services that provide an enhanced school experience. No student should work and sacrifice that only results in high debt and a near-worthless degree.



National American University, National American University Online Admissions Coordinator Manual (NAU0014290, at NAU0014450).

National American University, 2008, New Admissions Representative Training Manual (NAU0014515, at NAU0014520)

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