The California Culinary Academy used the too typical for-profit college lure: the wildest dreams and aspirations of their marks; chimeric employment and entrepreneural opportunities that end in financial nightmares. The victims of this “institution” have achieved some recompense while the industry has dodged a damning legal judgment.
Though a judgment would have been more satisfying for those like The Education Trust who have been fighting the predatory practices of the industry, those who were seduced into believing borrowing $30,000 for a 7 month course can be justified can’t wait the years a final verdict would require.
“Under a pending $40 million settlement in state court, Career Education has agreed to offer rebates up to $20,000 to 8,500 students who attended the academy between 2003 and 2008.” – Associated Press
$40 million. Think about that. A hole-in-the-wall cooking school that is a member of Moran’s Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities has the resources to fork over $40 million to 8,500 students whose dreams and lives have been shattered. Then, walk away “because (the lawsuits) were too expensive to litigate and distracting to employees.” Of course.
“After finishing the program, the only job she could find paid $8 an hour to work the night shift at an Oregon bakery – “something anyone could have gotten without a culinary certificate,” she said.
Journey, who now lives in Bakersfield, has abandoned her baker’s dream and now plans to attend community college to become a nurse or dietitian. Without the settlement money, she will be paying for that culinary certificate for another 15 years.”
Mother Moran must be so proud. And by the way, two other Illinois based Career Education “schools” are facing similar lawsuits. This for-profit operates over 90 “career colleges” worldwide. Enrollment at the company’s 16 Le Cordon Bleu cooking schools increased from 8,400 in 2008 to 13,100 in 2010. The vignette at the end of the Associated Press story provides the moral:
Matt Foist, 46, regrets his decision to borrow $45,000 to attend the California Culinary Academy in 2005, when the Silicon Valley software engineer was looking for a career change.
“They did a great job of selling it to me,” Foist said. “I was kind of tricked into believing that I would become a highly regarded chef in the San Francisco area and that I would make a lot more money than the reality turned out to be.”
After realizing he wouldn’t be able to earn enough to cover his student loans, he decided to stick with software engineering. Five years later, he said he’s barely made a dent in paying off his culinary school debt, though the settlement money will help if it comes through.
His advice to people contemplating culinary school: “Don’t go. Go to a community college.”
With no apologies, I remain an unwavering critic of this industry and anyone who is involved in perpetuating these predatory practices including the Chairman of the DPVA. In fairness I should mention that the President of one Hampton Roads for-profit reached out to meet with me after I was quoted in the Washington Times. I look forward to the time for that sit down.