In these economic times people are turning to educational outlets to help them find a better job or to further their education so they can retain their job. This is a prime time for scam artist schools like Kaplan University to literally steal money from people who are striving to better themselves. I fell victim to this scam artist of a school, I thought this school was the answer to my future. Little did I suspect they were really my nightmare of today.
October 2008- I start doing research into schools that offer Computer Programming degrees. I have been laid off from my tech support job and decide it would be a good time to go back to school. Advertisements for Kaplan keeping popping up, I figured why not so I sign up to have them contact me. Within minutes I am contacted by Joseph Miller. He and I talk and of course he gets information from me like what type of degree I am looking for, what type of class work load would I be able to handle. Joseph is my buddy. He hooks me up with the financial aid department and I get partially set up to start classes at Kaplan. I hit a few snags a long the way but nothing major, things like previous school records needed so I don't have to retake certain core classes like English and History. That gets squared away and I am suppose to be all set to start. This whole time Joseph is calling me almost weekly to keep me up to date and on task about things I need to complete in time. After I start classes I get handed off to Shawn Strong a student academic advisor at Kaplan.
Being handed off to Shawn Strong is where the trouble begins. 3 weeks into my classes I land a job that conflicts with my class schedule, I call my student advisor looking for advice on the situation. Shawn right away claims he can't help me and I need to get in contact with my teachers to resolve the issue. He then cops and attitude with me because I asked for clarification about Kaplan policy of switching the days of the classes.
Second issue arises, I take a major pay cut so I need to take one semester off from Kaplan. I call Shawn in November of 2008 about needing to take the next semester off. I leave a message because he is not there. He never responds to the message. I send him two emails, again no response. I call him again and leave another message, silence. I call Kaplan's main line and don't dial Shawn's extension because I need to talk to someone. The person I get a hold of tells me only Shawn can start the paperwork for my semester off. I keep calling Kaplan's main line and finally get someone to tell me that Shawn noted in my account that he started my withdrawal process. At this point I didn't know the difference between withdrawal and leave of absence.
End of November- I get email notices from Shawn saying I need to confirm my next semester classes. He has decided to sign me up for classes on nights that once again conflict with my work schedule. I email Shawn once again that I requested to withdrawal and he was suppose to process the paperwork because according to the last person I spoke with he started the paperwork. Again, Shawn does not contact me. I call him leave a message and of course I get no response. I start getting notices saying I owe Kaplan money for the next semester coming up, I also get notices that books have been sent out to me for my next semester classes. I try calling Shawn again no response. I get a hold of a student services person who schedules a call time for Shawn to call me. Shawn still decides not to pick up the phone. So, I go out on an all out war pouring through mindless student service help desk people until I get in touch with Michele Narisse.
December 2008- Michele acknowledges that Shawn has done the withdrawal paperwork but in the notes Shawn is claiming he has talked to me and he has emailed me. Michele promises to have Shawn call me the next day. Of course no call. By this time I am getting tired of the give us money request and "threats" of being locked out of my class for non-payment oh and my books arrived at my door.
January 2009- I call the Student Academic Department back up. I get a hold of Michele again but of course she is acting as if she never spoke to me. She then chastises me for not following the instructions Shawn emailed me. After I explained Shawn has never emailed me, she emails me the instructions he was suppose to send me. According to her email it was up to me to contact all the departments and notify them I was withdrawing. Strange I don't recall being hired by Kaplan as a student academic advisor. Michele also informs me of the difference between withdrawal and leave of absence. By this point I just want to leave Kaplan all together, why would I want to return to a school where no one returns a phone call or replies to their emails. Oh and at this time I was informed by Michele I could have requested a different advisor if Shawn wasn't doing anything. Nice to know after the stress.
Anyways I contact all these departments and leave messages for each person I was directed to telling them I am in the process of withdrawing and I need to talk to them. Not one of person called me back. I call Kaplan back and get a hold of Amelia who then tells me I was not suppose to contact anybody but Shawn and Shawn should have contacted the appropriate departments. She promises me she will send return labels for the books and sets up an exit interview for me with Alice because magically Shawn decided to get off his ass and do his job so my paperwork is complete. Just to make sure someone else knows about what Kaplan is doing I start a better business bureau complaint against Kaplan for the their mishandling of my withdrawal and to get them to acknowledge that I would not be charged for the books for classes that I never signed up for.
Alice calls me at 4:30 PM on Jan. 8, 2009. I finally get the exit interview and I am suppose to be withdrawn from Kaplan. The next day I get an email from my student loan holder wanting me to confirm the student loan amount so Kaplan can't try and take any money. I confirm the amount borrowed and I made triple sure the amount did not include any charges for any 2009 books or courses. I think great now all I have to do is get the return labels Amelia promised and this nightmare will end, wrong.
It is now Jan. 19, 2009. Kaplan is still sending emails claiming I need to log into my classes that I never confirmed. They are also sending me book store information claiming I need to buy more books. They have not sent the return address labels and they have not responded to the bbb complaint. There is a bit of silver lining, I called UPS and talked to them, they told me something Kaplan failed to mention. I could refuse the delivery and have UPS pick the books back up. UPS came by today and took the books back. I have also contacted a news station telling them about Kaplan's deception.
So if anyone is thinking about going to Kaplan I hope this scam alert will help someone look else where, like a local college. A lot of local colleges are now also offering full on line courses. I am still taking a semester off but hopefully I will be able to start again at a local college.
I wish I would have done something that I should have done in the beginning. Look up complaints against Kaplan because after I got burned I looked. I feel stupid for being taken in by these scam school. The only thing I hope is that someone sees this post and is wiser then me.