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How Much Are You Worth To an Online Lead-Gen Site? 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the depends-on-how-gullible-you-are dept.
jfruh writes "You may remember the tale of the blogger who found that an infographic he'd put on his site was the front end of an SEO spam job. Well, he's since followed the money to figure out just who's behind this maneuver: the for-profit college industry. He discovered that the contact info of someone who expresses interest in online degree programs can be worth up to $250 to an industry with a particularly sleazy reputation."
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How Much Are You Worth To an Online Lead-Gen Site?

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    the contact info of someone who expresses interest in online degree programs can be worth up to $250

    How much is the contact info of someone who wants to enroll in a 4-year institution worth? They charge hundreds per course...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      You are peanuts... The real money is in the suckers that want a masters or higher. Those fools get milked out of tens of thousands of dollars. I know one that went into the medical field that is $110,000 in student loan debt because she was stupid and though the "better schools" means you get more job opportunities.

      They dont.

      Some do not get utterly robbed, those people go to school smart. They don't do the stupid move of chasing "prestigious" names. But those are the same students that work full ti

      • Re:And... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @09:55AM (#42335975)

        Physics is a pure science. Driving is an applied science. Schools teach one or the other; few people are good at both.

        Having a doctorate degree in one field - say medicine - doesn't make you smart at another - such as math, or physics.

        • I would really hope that someone a PhD in medicine was good at math as well.

          How many milligrams should a person weighing 200 lbs take of drug abc123...

          There are not charts for everything, yet.

          • by JustOK (667959)

            The pharmacy reps tell them what and how much to prescribe.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            If you think "good at math" means the ability to do basic multiplication and division I fear for the quality of your schooling.

            • by Lumpy (12016)

              We are talking american schools like the University Of Michigan and Notre Dame... Mathematics like Addition and multiplication is not important here.

          • Sorry, that isn't math. That is number crunching. Anyone who completed a doctorate degree in a science field will be good at number crunching.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Sorry, that isn't math. That is number crunching. Anyone who completed a doctorate degree in a science field will be good at number crunching.

              Not even that. That is basic school stuff (rather, it's basic school stuff in Brazil, which has the crappiest math scores in the world) and anyone going for a degree in anything that requires a modicum of reasoning (anything, really) should do that easily. If you can't do that you can scarcely be considered a functioning citizen.

              Maths is estimating the optimal ship size to carry oil around or checking for statistical correlations between sets of data. That is BASIC math.

      • Re:And... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Farmer Pete (1350093) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @11:07AM (#42336503)
        I got my 4 year B.S. in Information Technology degree from a reputable college for a grand total of $10,000. I graduated in 2004. That doesn't include rent, food, living expenses, or books, but I never lived with less than 3 other people (often in houses with 6-8 people), ate cheap food, didn't spend much on anything, and I hardly ever bough school books unless they really were required.

        How did I spend less for a 4 year degree than most of my friends spent in 1 year at the local University? I went to a community college for my first two years, and then I went to a smaller university (Central Michigan University). Community college cost $1000 a semester, and CMU cost $2500 a semester. I did get 2 scholarships for a combined $4000, but I didn't even apply for either of them. One was given to all Michigan students from the tobacco settlement, and the other was given to me since I had a GPA above 3.5 when I transferred to CMU.

        I have several friends who graduated with 40k-120k in debt. I can't even imagine having that much extra debt. It would be like having a second mortgage. It breaks my heart even more when someone gets that much debt with a degree that has a pretty low earnings potential. You'd be amazed how many young people I've talked to who never thought about looking at the job market before picking their career path, to see what kind of job possibilities/salary ranges were. There is no reason to go 50k in the hole, just so you can get a job making 30k a year.
        • by BVis (267028)

          There is no reason to go 50k in the hole, just so you can get a job making 30k a year.

          Yes there is. Just not a reason that's good for the worker. It's good for the business that hires them, because that debt is an incentive to not complain when the company treats them like shit.

          • Re:And... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Farmer Pete (1350093) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @12:22PM (#42337187)
            Well, I can't control what companies do, but I can advise people not to make dumb decisions. Too often people are directed to pick a career that is what they want to do. Sounds great on paper. I remember filling out one of those career direction tests in high school. If I had followed it's advice, I'd be sitting in a tower watching for forest fires. I don’t have any idea what that type of a job pays, but I have to believe the market is incredibly small. I have a cousin who was half way through college studying to be a photojournalist. He wanted to take pictures for National Geographic. It wasn’t until someone finally banged into his head that there are only a couple hundred people in the world who do that job. He had better odds of getting into the NFL. It seems harsh to smash someone’s dreams, but people need to have a sense of realism in their career choices.
            • by BVis (267028)

              Couldn't agree more. If there are any high school students reading, if anyone tells you to study what interests you, punch them. You should study something that will be marketable once you graduate with $50k in debt. If you don't hate it, that's a bonus.

              • by dbc (135354)

                Well.... there is such a thing as balance. I've seen an endless stream of EE and CS new hires that got the degree because they saw it as a "meal ticket". Guess what, they weren't very happy, and didn't excel at the job. "Not hating" a job doesn't contribute much to a person's sense of self-worth.

                • by BVis (267028)

                  No, but self-worth doesn't pay the rent. Excelling at your job doesn't have a great return on investment these days; most of the time, whether you work your brains out or do just enough to not get fired, you get paid the same.

                  • No, but self-worth doesn't pay the rent.

                    Wow, that's rather cynical. I happen to think that self worth is the most important thing to hold onto dearly throughout life. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you don't value yourself then you will find it very difficult to really give a shit about the work you do, the family you raise, the people you know, etc. This attitude has consequences much more far reaching than most people realize and is exactly how you get in a position of "I do a good job but nobody gives a fuck about me". Or conversely c

            • by dbc (135354)

              Well, those forest fire towers went away a long time ago, in large part because 100% fire suppression turned out to be a bad idea.

              But back to your point: Yes, spot on. There are a lot of way to steer what you like to do into something that actually pays well, or at least you need to assess how much of a factor material wealth is in your life. For my part, I was lucky, I liked math and electronics, and also music. So... let's see, electrical engineers are paid how much? Versus how much will I make teachi

              • Well, those forest fire towers went away a long time ago, in large part because 100% fire suppression turned out to be a bad idea.

                Well, there goes plan B. That's the worst thing I've heard all year. I figured I could get a job watching for fires. Of course, I'd buy a laptop with a WLAN card and play _____. I mean, what percent of your brain does it really take to watch for fires?

            • You're absolutely right, Farmer Pete. And what is even worse is the number of young people going to college with no clue what they want to do, just because they've been told it's their next step. I just graduated at the age of 38 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. I was appalled at the number of young people at the University with no major and no direction going deep into debt. They would very likely find very rewarding carers in construction, firefighting or police work. Yet they accepted someone el
              • I have a feeling that the reason for the increasing tuition is similar to the increasing medical prices. You've got a service that most people can't afford. The people who can afford it have to subsidize the people who can't. Then the prices go up because there are more people who can't afford it, but as the price goes up, more people can't afford it. So then the price goes up again.

                If you REALLY want to make yourself sick, check out the list of the largest endowment funds. http://www.statisticbrain [statisticbrain.com]
            • by chrismcb (983081)

              It seems harsh to smash someone’s dreams, but people need to have a sense of realism in their career choices.

              Seems like some HORRIBLE advice. Not everyone can make a gazillion dollars. But telling people not to follow their dreams, so they can make money in some dead end mind numbing job?
              You are right, in that you shouldn't get a degree in "tower sitting" because some test told you to. But you shouldn't also do it because it pays money. Do it because you enjoy it.
              Your friend would probably not get a job at National Geographic. And he definitely won't now. But he might have gotten a job in a similar field, work

        • I got my BS degree for free. My state, GA, offers free tuition and fees/books to anyone going to a public university with a HS GPA of >=3.0 for 120 credit hours.

          It wasn't financially based, so it didn't matter that my parents had money (even though I did not).

          Why can't more states do this?

          • I know this article is a little old, but it looks like GA is/was having a very hard time continuing the program.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/us/07hope.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 [nytimes.com]

            There is no such thing as a free college education. Someone has to pay. We could make it cheaper by cutting expenses. Instead of fancy and ornate college campuses, we could build cinderblock boxes. Instead of trying the hire the best and brightest teachers, we could settle for whomever will work for cheap. I'm sure
      • by mcsnee (103033)

        I can't speak for "the medical field," but better schools do indeed mean more job opportunities in the legal field. This is not to say that a JD from a top law school is the guaranteed job it was five or ten years ago--or that it's impossible to get a job if you didn't attend a prestigious school--but firms certainly do look at where you went to school as a primary indicator of your value and ability.

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        because she was stupid and though the "better schools" means you get more job opportunities.

        The "better schools" DO give you more job opportunities. Some companies ONLY recruit, or recruit more heavily at the "better schools." In some cases mentioning the "better schools" will get you an interview. It gets your foot in the door. It doesn't mean you'll get hired though.

        They are not morons and get loans and spend it on rent, food, and beer.

        I'm not sure if you are saying the morons get loans and spend it on rent and food. Or if the smart ones do, but what do you think student loans are for? Just to pay your tuition? Student loans are there to help pay your room and boar

  • College sleaze (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vintermann (400722) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:28AM (#42335173) Homepage

    That there is such a market for sleazy colleges at all should be a wake up call. I hope MOOCs will kill off all these "colleges" that are more reliable producers of debt than education [guardian.co.uk].

    • Re:College sleaze (Score:5, Insightful)

      by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:27AM (#42336199)

      I hope MOOCs will kill off all these "colleges" that are more reliable producers of debt than education.

      That describes pretty much *all* colleges/universities now.

    • by garcia (6573)

      I worked in higher ed for most of my adult life at both non-profit and for-profit institutions and as such I like to pretend I know the good and bad of both models.

      Based on the complaints of so many in the public regarding the for-profit/online model, I am blown away by the support for MOOCs outside of higher ed. I get it, free learning is great but what about actually verifying any learning was done? Are you seriously going to tell me that for-profit education should be killed off by a model which has abso

      • Re:College sleaze (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ranton (36917) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @11:16AM (#42336591)

        Based on the complaints of so many in the public regarding the for-profit/online model, I am blown away by the support for MOOCs outside of higher ed.

        The complaints about for-profit/online schools are based on the value of those schools compared to their cost. A school like University of Phoenix costs over $500 per credit hour, which is far higher than the industry average. And they provide a severely less valuable education that even the worst brick and mortar schools. No rational people think that MOOCs are going to completely replace real schools, but instead treat them purely as a supplement.

        I obtained by bachelors from University of Phoenix after getting my associates at a junior college. I did this because no brick and mortar schools offer late night classes for a BS degree in IT (in 2008 at least), and I needed to work full time to support a family. I know just how bad their education is. I joke around with coworkers about how lowsy the education was. I have also taken a few MOOCs on coursera, and the education there just blows UoP away. There is no verification that the student actually learned anything, but the same can be said for UoP. I never took a proctored exam, or any exam at all for that matter. If someone paid me $20k on top of tuition I could get them a BS in Software Engineering in a couple years for little effort, because they would never have to prove they know anything in person.

        The only reason these online schools exist is because real colleges refuse to offer a much needed service (after work hours or online BS degrees). I only got my degree from an online school so I could immediately apply for an MS degree at a real school (DePaul).

      • They don't have to be totally verifiable. They just have to be as verifiable as conventional college education, which isn't really an all that high bar.

        And if it turns out people won't put any faith in the Scala course certificate I have from Coursera, I could take a proctored exam, offered at a lot less than the debt-pushing colleges. Though it'd be both cheaper and more reliable to just do some basic sanity checks (e.g. asking me to read or write some Scala code) in the interview.

      • by fermion (181285)
        I get it, free learning is great but what about actually verifying any learning was done?

        There are many ways to look at college. One is as a time spent becoming educated, cultured, and expanding your contacts beyond you hometown school social group. This is why many sent their kids on the Grand Tour, or from America to the great schools of England. The threat of plague, it is hypothesized, and the arduous journey across the sea, impelled the residents of proto-America to build their own colleges. Over

  • Is that as opposed to an Offline Lead-Gen Site?
  • Lead Gen ? (Score:1, Troll)

    by rossdee (243626)

    Does somebody want my lead? I have a few old car batteries, and a UPS that no longer works. Quite a bit of Pb there.
      I would have to pay to take them to the city recycling place.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:35AM (#42335385) Journal

    So online schools are hooking you up wih loan officers for easy-to-get loans to dump cash into their pockets and leavr you, most likely, without a degree, or if you get one, essentially worthless.

    Nice.

    The student loan bubble is still bubbling. Easy loans are (knowledge is power, folks) helping people get educations but also driving the cost increases the past two decades. They nickle-dime you each year because they can.

    It's the same wih a car loan. No way you'd buy a $2000 car nav radio. But add $23/month to a payment? Sure!

    So they add $23/monh to your college loan each year because they can.

    Meanwhile politicians and administrators throw up their hands and say, "Doh! We don't know why!" If you don't, you should be fired.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know why people bother with the scam that is the US education system. There are plenty of places around the world that are not part of the bubble.

      A distance-learning Master's degree, from a reputable university in England, costs between $5000 and $10,000 and can be easily completed in two years. A distance learning Bachelor's degree, from the Open University (the people who invented distance learning) can be had for as little as $24,000.

      Why pay a fortune to a bullshit third tier school in the USA, w

      • by BVis (267028)

        I don't know why people bother with the scam that is the US education system.

        Because, in most cases, if you want a job that doesn't involve a name tag and/or a paper hat, you need a four-year degree. And even then, if you major in English or Communications or some other liberal-arts-well-rounded-fuzzy-squishy field, the most important phrase you'll need to know after graduation is "Would you like fries with that."

        HR people are lazy. In this job market, they're flooded with resumes for even the worst jobs.

    • by crazyjj (2598719) *

      It wouldn't be such a problem (in the U.S. anyway) if the government would at least restrict its loan guarantees to accredited colleges.

      • by BVis (267028)

        But but but FREE MARKET! Government BAD! Regulation EVIL! etc.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        It wouldn't be such a problem (in the U.S. anyway) if the government would at least restrict its loan guarantees to accredited colleges.

        The for-profit schools have been buying up accredited colleges in order to piggyback their programs on the purchased accreditation.
        Example: Kaplan purchased its accreditation in 2000 when it bought Quest College.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:51AM (#42335431)

    I'd sell my info and put it towards college. Since I'm already attending it would be legit!

  • Big business (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @08:09AM (#42335491)

    It's a big business, some of these degree lead gen firms employ hundreds of people and rake in millions of dollars.

    But.. it might be sleazy, but in the end it's just marketing. However, some players in the market (not OnlineSchools.org) push the boundaries even further, and attract visitors to their sites with fake job offerings. When the visitor tries to apply for the job, then they get the hard sell for these for-profit universities. The job never materializes of course as the whole thing is a fraud in these instances, but consumer protection agencies aren't bothered.

    Now, of course if those job offerings (or whatever bait is used) don't exist then it's fraud, because the lead gen company is getting something of value (you) by deception (a fake offer). Repeat that hundreds of thousands of times and you have a BIG fraud.. but with lots of individual victims who may not even realise that they have been scammed.

    • Yes, there are lots of other false come-ons for lead generation. The other standard one you see near the side of cash-registers at pizza places (at Little Caesars in Kearny Mesa) or other restaurants or at the entry/exit of gyms: little entry boxes that you stuff with your contact info and email and cell phone number in the hopes of "winning a cruise!" or of getting "a free vacation!". Of course, the only thing that really comes out of this is that your contact information which you've willing released is
  • Great submission! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @08:37AM (#42335579)
    This was a really great submission and the other links within the TFA were interesting as well. I always had a wary eye cast towards the for-profit educational sector but I honestly had no idea that taxpayers were responsible for a significant amount of their profits. At one point, I was thinking about the University of Phoenix because I suspected that they were at least legitimate. Now, I'm glad I did not!
  • although it is usually the other direction, turning lead into gold, rather than generating lead from other elements.
    • by Megane (129182)
      Right, but see, eventually you'll run out of lead, because you've turned it all into gold. So you need to get more lead!
  • Hey guys! Check out my awesome site to see what your lead is worth!

    sleazybusinesscollectingleads.com

    We're 100% accurate! Find out what your lead is worth TODAY!

  • by Khashishi (775369) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @12:53PM (#42337453) Journal

    If you sign up to a site about online schools, and fill out online school applications, and they call you, that's not spam. Scam, maybe, but not spam.

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