You know how I feel about online for-profit paralegal programs – I feel like you need to be really careful if you’re considering enrolling in one. Do your homework, and make sure you will earn a viable degree that will lead to gainful employment in the legal field. But Channel 3 On Your Side is reporting that one student at the University of Phoenix spent more than two years taking courses in a paralegal program that did not exist.

“I was devastated,” she said.

[Sarah] Anderson, who is now struggling to pay back thousands of dollars in student loans, blames her academic advisor for either not knowing, or not telling her that you can’t get a paralegal degree from the school.

“I had just wasted a year-and-a-half going to school for something that now wasn’t even going to be there,” Anderson said.

Her story comes on the heels of a report released late last year by the Government Accountability Office,  the investigative arm of congress.

The report claims 15 for-profit colleges, including the University of Phoenix, “made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements to G.A.O.’s undercover applicants.”

“It was total deceiving,” Anderson said. “There was nothing accurate about what he was telling me.”

The school denies that Anderson was deceived, calling the situation a “miscommunication.” Anderson has been given a credit for some of her tuition and will be awarded a two-year degree in hospitality.

Here’s an excerpt from the description of the University of Phoenix Associate of Arts degree in Hospitality, Travel and Tourism:

Axia College of University of Phoenix offers an Associates of Arts degree with specializations in business, accounting, information technology, criminal justice, health care administration, human services management, communication, psychology, and paraprofessional education. The Associate of Arts curriculum provides a foundation and overview within the academic disciplines of communication arts, social sciences, mathematics, life sciences, and the humanities. Instruction focuses on the development of student skills in writing, critical thinking, and information utilization, as well as foundational competencies in the selected discipline. The completion of an Associate of Arts degree represents an important milestone for many students as they pursue their educational goals.

Paraprofessional education. A paraprofessional is an individual trained to assist a professional such as a doctor, teacher, veterinarian, librarian – or lawyer. If this term appears throughout the university’s course descriptions, I can understand why people unfamiliar with the paralegal profession might be confused. But as hard as it can be for new graduates in any field to find a job these days, I wonder how much tougher the job market is for someone with a degree in hospitality.

Source: 3 On Your Side

Related Posts: Do Your Homework Before Enrolling in a For-Profit Paralegal Program; A Word to the Wise about Online “Legal Assistant Certification”; Another Reason to Reconsider an Online Paralegal Education

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