Opinion

Are universities providing misinformation?

Thomas Jefferson School Law in San Diego is being sued for publishing false job placement rate statistics.

While the college experience is one of the milestones that many Americans reminisce about for the rest of their lives, the main reason students go to college is so they can get a job once they graduate. While college is a time for meeting new people, trying new things and learning how to live without our families, it is also a time for us to become skilled in a profession that we could be taking on for the rest of our lives. The importance of college in this new and uber-competitive job market is critical, and many students and their families are willing to put themselves in hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt so they can have a diploma. However, what if you can’t find a job after graduation? Was the sacrifice worth it?

Some academic institutions tout their impressive graduate statistics, boasting that a certain percent of students have a job within a certain number of months of graduation. One such school is the University of San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law, which claimed that over 80 percent of graduates received employment within a year of graduation on promotional material they sent to prospective students. However, recent TJSL graduate Anna Alaburda began to question these statistics as she, a top-performer who passed the state bar exam on her first try, wasn’t getting the fast employment she was promised.

Having graduated at the top of her class from TJSL with $150,000 in student loans, Alaburda was chomping at the bit for a job post-graduation. But after applying to dozens of law firms across the country to no avail, she began to question the impressive employment statistics that encouraged her to attend TJSL from the beginning.

What Alabarda found was a corrupt and knowingly false system of employment measurement at top levels of the school. Appalled, she brought her education to good use and is currently bringing TJSL to court, along with some other recent graduates who have had trouble in the job market. According to legal documents submitted to California courts, TJSL “expected to see an employment statistic that exceeded 82 percent,” and would fudge the numbers by including students who were hired outside of the law field to meet their quota.

Not only is this intentional forging of numbers wrong, but it is ethically disgusting. From youth, children dream of being doctors and lawyers because of the attached social status and respect of these professions. However, for a law school to play on these heartstrings and emotions of prospective students by feeding them false information about how they could be successful after graduation is terrible. Admissions officers and school officials are luring trusting students into a trap of student loans with no redeeming job offers at the end.

While TJSL is a graduate program, this promise of employment after graduation can be applied to undergraduate studies as well. Here at UW-Madison, many students are painfully aware that today’s job market offers no guarantees of employment, even with an impressive resume and a degree from one of the top-ranked universities in the country. However, we are still here trying to gain the skills and experience we need to be competitive in this job market, because we have been conditioned from birth to know that a college education will ultimately result in you being financially independent and happy.

I am a freshman here at Madison, and it was just a year ago that I was entranced by the glossy college pamphlets and guidebooks that came in droves to my mailbox each day. Not only did each school have a beautiful campus, impressive faculty and great academics, but many also promoted the fact that their graduates are successful in the job market after graduation. I do not want to be a starving student who is forced to rely on the generosity of my parents after I graduate, so such statistics were important when choosing the school I thought would be right for me.

No source of education, whether it is an associate’s program or a doctoral program should offer their students false information about employment after graduation. Education is an expensive investment that many students make in order to one day be successful in the job market, but the burden and stress of student loans can follow them for decades after they walk across the stage to get their diploma. By filling them with false hope for a better future, academic institutions are selfishly accepting profits without giving anything in return.

Samantha is a freshman majoring in journalism and communication arts. Do you think universities should be held more accountable for the statistics they publish? Are you a college student that shares this fear? Let us know at opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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