At the age of 28, Michael Adorno got fed up with his low-wage job at a pizzeria in Richmond Hill, Georgia and decided to go to college.
the for-profit Everest College (part of Corinthian Colleges Inc.) in Colorado Springs from 2010 to 2012 and received an associate degree in network administration.
Three years later, Adorno is unemployed and was even rejected from a job at Best Buy.
Adorno belongs to a group called the Corinthian 100, alumni of Corinthian Colleges who refuse to pay back their student loans and claim they were defrauded by Corinthian. Like other members of the group, he claims he got a subpar education and was left with massive debt and no suitable job.
Prior to 2014, Corinthian Colleges Inc. was a network of more than 100 schools and one of the largest for-profit college companies in the US. But numerous investigations and lawsuits alleging wrongdoing against the company rapidly decreased its size. In July 2014, an agreement with the US Department of Education (DOE) forced Corinthian to sell 85 of its schools and close another 12.
Initial excitement about the opportunity to attend college
The first person to attend college in his family, he was excited, but admittedly unknowlegable about higher education and financial decisions.
“I felt especially proud to take this first step forward because I thought maybe it would be a big role model experience for myself and to set that example for my friends and my brother,” Adorno told Business Insider.
He said he relied on the college to give him accurate information about financial aid, something he claims did not happen.
“It was such a rushed experience. My student advisor, she was a great salesman. I don’t understand why she wasn’t selling cars or something else,” Adorno said.
His student advisor promised he would not be on the hook for student loan payments before he graduated, he said. However, he says that he started getting requests for payment on his loans while still at Everest.
Still, amid a rushed process and some confusion, Adorno pushed ahead.
“I was just ready, I was just ready, ready, ready, to pull the trigger on something that was going to lead me to a more prosperous future with a better career, like I said instead of delivering pizzas,” he said.
An education that did not live up to expectations
When Adorno got to Everest, he said, he was immediately disappointed.
Everest sold him on the promise that he’d get hands-on experiences with emerging technologies that would prepare him for high-calibre IT positions, according to Adorno.
But Adorno ended up taking a lot of unnecessary “gen ed” classes like literature and oral communications, he said.
And when Adorno, who says he has had a lifelong interest in computer systems, finally got into the core classes of the degree program, he was shocked by the outdated technologies that were offered to him at Everest, he said.
“I mean I was learning how to work with operating systems that were 10, 15 years old … Why, why on earth was I being taught on systems that were already obsolete, outdated?” he said.
Lifetime career placement services that didn’t pan out
Adorno told Business Insider that one of the most compelling reasons he attended Everest was its pledge to provide lifetime career placement services. But he quickly realised he couldn’t find work in an IT department, he said.
The only job Adorno says Everest could get him was working in a call center administered by Xerox, he said. The role was a customer service position that didn’t require a college degree.
He did not accept that job.
He looked into attending Colorado Technical University to pursue a bachelors degree, but when he went there he discovered some of his classes didn’t transfer. He’d have to incur even more debt, which he said would “again lead me to keep plunging down the hole.”
Adorno eventually moved back to Georgia where he took a job as an assistant manager at a Little Caesars. He says he was completely demoralized after attending Everest and didn’t think he had any other options.
“I had to kind of pull myself back together and stop chasing that dream because there was no call backs when I started looking in to local technical recruiters. I wasn’t getting any calls back with the info on my resume having gone to Everest. I almost felt that because I had that on my resume that’s why they might not be calling me because they might have intimate knowledge of their practices,” he said.
Unemployed and still job searching
Now, at 33 years old, Adorno has moved in with his mum in Alexandria, Virginia and is unemployed, but is using the time to find an entry level position in IT in and around the Washington, D.C. area.
He voiced frustration at getting rejected from a job with the “Geek Squad” at Best Buy.
Still, he is trying to remain upbeat though he currently has no serious job leads. “Again, I feel a lot of it boils down to the fact that they are looking at the whole Everest thing,” he said.
He spoke about the $US37,000 of student loan debt that he’s been deferring for the past three years. He and the other members of the Corinthian 100 are trying to get the Department of Education to discharge that debt.
“What I expect to see is a full discharge of these loans so that I can reclaim a better chance at higher education,” he said. “I still want to be able to go back to school.”
We reached out to a representative for Corinthian for comment on Adorno’s experience, and we will update this post if we hear back. Previously, the company has told us in a statement that “career colleges like Corinthian play an important role in the US education system and serve a need that would otherwise be unmet.”
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