on September 20, 2016 by in Golden News, Comments Off on ITT Tech students put focus on future

ITT Tech students put focus on future

Thomas Westbrook had a feeling something was wrong at ITT Technical Institute earlier this year.

“A few of us had an inkling something was fishy because they stopped taking new students in,” the Westminster resident said.

He said school staff would get defensive when asked if there were problems.

Westbrook was one quarter shy of earning an associate’s degree in network systems administration at ITT Tech’s Westminster campus, one of two Denver-area campuses of the for-profit college that closed on Sept. 6 after being barred by the Department of Education from accepting federal student aid and loans in August.

About 430 students attended ITT Tech in the area, mostly at a campus in Aurora. Nationally, more than 40,000 students attended the school at its 130 campuses.

ITT Tech could not be reached for comment. The school’s website does not list a phone number at which officials can be contacted, and a phone number that previously was promoted as a way to contact the school no longer was in service.

Since the shutdown, the Colorado Community College System has taken steps to inform displaced students of their option for continuing education. Westbrook was one of two former ITT students who attended an information session at the Westminster Campus of Front Range Community College on Sept. 17.

Because ITT wasn’t regionally accredited, transferring credits to a community college is not simple. Howard Fukaye, Arapahoe Community College’s director of student recruitment and outreach, said the college’s departments will analyze students’ coursework from ITT to see what can be accepted.

“We’re a lot different type of entity than ITT Tech,” he said.

Bitsy Cohn, director of credit for prior learning for the Colorado Community College System, said there are ways besides directly transferring credits that ITT Tech students’ prior learning can be assessed, such as portfolio reviews, challenge tests and assessments of workforce or military experience.

“We want to make sure they get some credit for what they’ve learned,” she said.

Former ITT students also have the option of discharging their student loans, but they cannot do so if they transfer credit to another school.

ITT Tech had faced criticism for its marketing strategies and for leaving students with high levels of debt upon graduation. Westbrook said he was told by recruiters that with an ITT degree, he would make more money than with a degree from a community college.

Fukaye said the school was known for targeting unemployed people and those who were uneducated about the higher education system, with infomercials on daytime or late-night TV and recruiters at government work centers. However, the tuition at ITT Tech was significantly higher than at community colleges, he said, reaching about $ 5,000 per quarter, compared to $ 1,745 per semester for a full-time student at ACC.

Only small numbers of former ITT Tech students have attended information sessions at area community colleges since the shutdown. While no more open houses are planned, Cohn said more inquiries may trickle in during coming months.

Westbrook said he will likely enroll at Front Range Community College in a computer-related field.

“I’m frustrated,” he said, “but enough time has passed that I’m not as mad as I was.”

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