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

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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  • 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].

  • 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.


    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.

  • 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.

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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).

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

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @12:31PM (#42337271) Journal

    The reason is, you're more valuable to the masters of the economy as a debtor than an educated citizen. This economy does not run on education, it runs on debt.

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe