The Damage Caused By Predatory Educators

A little over a decade ago, after many years away from the workforce, a relative started doing manual labor for a landscaping/outdoor construction business. It probably wasn't the kind of work he or his family had envisioned him doing, but it seemed to be good for him. To some extent he even seemed to enjoy it. Most importantly he was earning and saving money – in his mid-forties something he needed to do.

After a couple of years he decided to quit his job, give up on a year of earning, and dip into his savings to take a course in bricklaying from the worst kind of education predator – a local community college. It seemed like a good investment – they promised him he would be more employable and better paid as a bricklayer.

Of course they left out the part about needing to get an apprenticeship, and needing thousands of hours as an apprentice, and (most importantly) that nobody is interested in hiring an apprentice that is approaching fifty years of age.

So he walked away from his job (and income) for the duration of the course. He paid his tuition from his savings, and dutifully completed the paperwork the predatory educator provided, paperwork that would help them access government funds – funds intended to help train people for jobs they might actually hope to get.

Afterwards he began what would be a fruitless job search. He couldn't even get his old job back. All the time instead of earning money he was burning through the money he had earned, through hard physical labor, in the past.

Almost any business owner understands that it is much easier and cheaper to sell more product to an existing customer than to acquire a new customer. This also applies to useless education, and predatory educators are quick to exploit it.

They were soon suggesting new courses that offered even more promising and exciting career paths. The problem was that each one was more ridiculous than the last. Can't get a three year apprentice as a bricklayer? Spend another year or two in school and then, that much older, try and get a four year apprenticeship as a plumber! And the hot new field of sustainable construction is interesting and exciting. All of these just meant more tuition money and government aid flowing to the school, and more lost time, money and opportunities for my friend.

It's worth looking at a little societal bias here. Part of the reason this happened is the opinion of many that labor is "bad", and school is "good". There were many small-government, anti-entitlement conservatives involved in this particular situation, and for some reason they thought it was just great to leave gainful employment as a laborer and use government funds to purchase useless education that would never lead a to a real job.

The most recent career path suggested is by far the most ridiculous. And physically dangerous – he was steered towards something that is empirically one of the most dangerous legal jobs in North America.

It is also completely to his age, fitness level and body type. If he could pass he would be entering the field in his mid-fifties. Most people start in this field in their early twenties and are physically wrecked and washed out by 35. And no employer would be able to insure him for this line of work. But, again, the predatory educator chooses not to complicate their sales pitch (sorry, their "career counselling") with that kind of minor detail.

What a system. A guy who was contributing to society, earning money and saving for retirement is encouraged to instead drain their savings and government aid and waste the few remaining years of earning they have left. This is the business of predatory education.