Higher Ed Watch

A Blog from New America's Higher Education Initiative

< Back to the Education Policy Program

Don't Talk About Your Debt, the Career College Association Tells Students

Published:  March 8, 2011
Issues:  

It’s that time again when the group formerly known as the Career College Association brings for-profit college representatives and students to Washington, DC to lobby for the sector. But this year, the group is not taking any chances. Not only are they providing students with talking points arguing against the Obama administration’s proposed Gainful Employment rule, but they are also warning them not to talk to reporters about their student debt loads.

In a document entitled “Tips for Talking to the Media,” they tell students and graduates of their programs exactly how to respond to such a question:

Should a reporter ask if or how much debt you incurred at a career institution, you can firmly but politely reply: “I made an adult decision to invest in my education, and I am confident in my ability to meet my financial responsibilities.”

But what if reporters -- those nasty nabobs of negativity  -- aren’t satisfied with that answer and try to dig deeper? Don’t worry, the career-college lobbyists have that covered too:

Should the reporter continue to push on the debt point, you can politely but firmly reply, “I have answered that question, and am happy to talk more about how my degree/diploma/certificate has enhanced my career prospects.

And if reporters dare to bring up questions about “high-pressure recruitment,” the document advises students to say:

My decision to choose a private sector college was made after I had considered other options. It was my choice, and I made it based on several factors, not solely on any contact with recruiters.

In summing up, the lobbyists encourage students to be “honest” and “straightforward” with journalists -- "unless of course those jerks start asking questions about your debt again!" [Full disclosure, we added that part in.]

Here is the full document for your reading pleasure. [Also, check out what our friends at Campus Progress had to say about these tips.]

TIPS FOR TALKING WITH MEDIA

  • Describe briefly the way your career education has enhanced or is enhancing your ability to focus on goal-attainment.

  • If you attended a “traditional” college before enrolling in a career institution, comment briefly on how the career college experience was/is better suited to your needs.

  • Should a reporter ask if or how much debt you incurred at a career institution, you can firmly but politely reply: “I made an adult decision to invest in my education, and I am confident in my ability to meet my financial responsibilities.”

  • Should the reporter continue to push on the debt point, you can politely but firmly reply, “I have answered that question, and am happy to talk more about how my degree/diploma/certificate has enhanced my career prospects.

  • To the question of high-pressure recruitment, the student could reply: "My decision to choose  a private sector college was made after I had considered other options. It was my choice, and I made it based on several factors, not solely on any contact with recruiters." 

  • Be honest

  • Be Straightforward

  • Don’t kid around. You think you are kidding. The reporter doesn’t.

  • If you don’t know the answer, say you don’t know the answer.

  • Keep answers short.

  • When you feel it’s time to be done, say thank you and move on.

Join the Conversation

Please log in below through Disqus, Twitter or Facebook to participate in the conversation. Your email address, which is required for a Disqus account, will not be publicly displayed. If you sign in with Twitter or Facebook, you have the option of publishing your comments in those streams as well.

Related Programs