Students Blame Colleges for Worthless Education

Millennials sue their schools, claiming poor preparation for the job market

Go to college. Get a job. That’s how it’s supposed to work. However, millennials today are finding that going to college is not enough to provide them with the American dream. In economically uncertain times, with many fields morphing and changing, students are leaving college campuses with debt and entering an unpredictable world and job market. 

Anna Alaburda is the most recent ex-student to join a growing trend of taking her jobless hostility and turning it towards her own alma mater, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.

Alaburda claimed the school was responsible for selling her on false hopes of a bright legal career after graduation. After racking up around $170,000 in debt, and unable to find a full-time legal position after a decade, Alaburda filed suit in California claiming fraud because the school had inflated employment data about graduates.

Her suit was one of 15 in the last several years to go after colleges and their promoted employment placement rates. Alaburda’s was the first to go to trial, and she lost. Thomas Jefferson’s lawyer, Michael Sullivan, successfully argued in the case that the school held no responsibility for Alaburda’s situation and that she, like other disgruntled students, needed to take personal responsibility. It was also revealed Alaburda had actually been offered a job right out of school, but turned it down stating, in legal documents, that it “was less favorable than non-law-related jobs that were available.”

The yearly salary was $60,000.

“I’m not here to tell you a law degree is a guarantee of career success, is a guarantee of riches. It’s not. No degree is,” Sullivan told the jury that later threw out Alaburda’s lawsuit, which sought $125,000 from the school.

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Most other lawsuits against various schools have been thrown out by judges or dropped. One suit, filed by nine former students of New York Law School, sought $225 million in damages. They, too, claimed the school had used fraudulent and misleading employment figures to sell them on an expensive education.

Justice Melvin L. Schweitzer of New York Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit and said law students would need to be “wearing blinders” to not see that a “goodly number of law school graduates toil (perhaps part-time) in drudgery or have less than hugely successful careers.”

Other judges in Illinois and Michigan seemed to agree, throwing out similar lawsuits concluding that students used personal judgment opting for expensive educations and betting on futures that were never guaranteed to be handed to them.

While it’s easy to snicker at yet another example of a generation unable to deal with a changing world and market or to take personal responsibility for their lives, it’s important not to shy away from the flip side of the story. In the age of “safe spaces,” coddled campuses and astronomical tuitions rates, colleges might be playing a bigger role than many think in helping to not prepare a generation for the real world.

Thomas Jefferson, the school Alaburda unsuccessfully sued, reported absurdly high employment numbers for graduates. In 2011, when legal hiring was down, the school claimed over 90 percent of its graduates were working full-time. When Alaburda applied, she was seduced by the claim that over 80 percent of graduates were working full-time.

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What she claims the school didn’t reveal was that many of these jobs were in the restaurant business or cleaning pools — nothing to do with legal careers. The American Bar Association has tried in recent years to get schools to be more transparent about their promoted employment rates, but that hasn’t stopped much; and it isn’t just law schools promoting such numbers. After all, the higher your employment placement rates are, the higher your tuition and enrollment numbers can be.

“The university I currently attend … does boast about employment rates. From what I have seen, the claims they make are highly embellished,” said a University of Southern Maine student, who added, “I do know quite a few graduates who have had trouble finding a job in their field. Many of the graduates I know end up working in the restaurant business, which has nothing to do with their degree.”

Some for-profit schools have had to make big payouts as a result of investigations into fraudulent tactics to get higher tuition from students. The U.S. Department of Education threw a $30 million fine at Corinthian Colleges last year for using inflated employment placement rates to lure students to their campuses. The year before, Salter College was ordered to pay nearly $4 million dollars in repayments to students by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley due to similar tactics.

Colleges everywhere are already under fire for their growing political correctness and coddling of students from real-world issues and struggles (even Obama weighed in against schools in that area), and these payouts and lawsuits are yet another ding in their weakening armor. At the same time, many millennials are showing themselves to be allergic to personal responsibility.

The real world doesn’t care if you have a degree — it cares that you have an education and know what you’re doing. 

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PopZette editor Zachary Leeman can be reached at [email protected].