It was just a few weeks ago that ITT Technical Institute made the news after the US Department of Education banned the for-profit “college” from enrolling new students who used federal financial aid. Today I read that ITT Tech is closing its doors permanently and, frankly, all I could think was, “Good riddance.” After everything I’ve heard in the years leading up to this from friends who have gone to ITT, it’s hard to feel bad about seeing them go away.
I remember wanting to go to ITT Tech when I was in high school. I would see the commercials and think, “Yes. That’s where I need to be.” Luckily, I had people around me who insisted that I take another route in getting an education. Both my high school councilor Dan Morales and my aunt Myrna had pushed me to go to Pima Community College instead and then eventually transfer to the University of Arizona. Their feeling was that ITT Tech was far more expensive than a community college which offered the same programs and the former’s credits were often not transferable.
My friends who have gone to ITT Tech weren’t very satisfied with the education they received and even less so with the job placement that was promised after graduation. One notable instance was of a friend who graduated from the ITT’s school of Drafting and Design as a graphic designer and the job that ITT found them was working for a retail outlet setting up displays and stocking inventory. While I, for one, think that when you enter an industry you start at the bottom rung, ITT seems to have exaggerated what it could actually deliver and thus giving its students an unrealistic expectation.
Another friend had a relative who had graduated and flat out told her it was a scam. She recalled being told that the school would push students along to the next accelerated class, regardless of poor grades. When the time came for the students to take their ending credit classes, those with poor grades would be told they didn’t qualify because of said grades. By that time, the school already had the money so the student was effectively screwed over.
One of my relatives had told me about his son who had enrolled in ITT using his GI Bill. His feelings on ITT would later sour but re-enrolled anyway when the school recently contacted him to let him know he was just two semesters short of obtaining his bachelor’s degree. As he neared the end of one of these semesters, the school suddenly announced it was closing. This is probably one of the more frustrating of these examples in that one is so close to achieving a major milestone in one’s life and it’s snatched away at the last possible moment. To make matters worse is that he burned his GI Bill on this school which only makes ITT’s failure as an institution that much more upsetting.
My own education was interrupted by the Great Recession of recent memory and since then I’ve been working towards eventually returning to school. During this time, I have been getting experience through the work I’ve done and learning on my own time by tapping into the vast wealth of free information on the internet. While this is no substitute for an actual degree, I had no intention of sitting on my hands until I returned to school.
In that regard, I’m incredibly grateful to Travis Merrick and Dave Entwistle for being mentors who have given me direction over the years. I’m equally grateful to my aunt Myrna and counselor Dan Morales for steering me away from this mess and ensuring that I didn’t get ripped off. While I’m not where I want to be as far as my education goes, I feel it’s much better than where I could be had I gone through with what I wanted in high school.