Monday, March 28, 2011

Must-Read Stories on Bridgepoint

See all Bridgepoint posts.
See all posts on for-profit education companies.

Click on the following title to get the VOSD website original story with all the links:
Must-Read Stories on Bridgepoint
March 23, 2011
by Will Carless
by Liam Dillon
Voice of San Diego

In putting together our story on what for-profit education company Bridgepoint Education means to San Diego, we relied on a trove of other media coverage.

Here are some must-reads:

• This fascinating story by The Huffington Post's Chris Kirkham explained the company's business model, gave us insight into the company's marketing techniques and why they've been so controversial. Kirkham sought out several former Bridgepoint employees and was able to paint an intriguing picture of the company's corporate culture. Here's a snippet:

Behind the university's rapid growth is a pressure-cooker recruiting environment that treats prospective students like figures on a balance sheet, not people seeking opportunity through education, according to more than a half-dozen current and former employees ranging from management to entry-level recruiters interviewed by The Huffington Post in the past month.

Kirkham called Bridgepoint's Iowa-based school, Ashford University, the "Potemkin University" because it has just 700 students on campus, but serves as the physical anchor for tens of thousands of students studying online. We liked that description so much we made it a subhead in our story. The videos in the story are pretty cool, too, if you're interested in seeing what Ashford actually looks like.

• U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin's Senate committee hearing, which we refer to in our piece, led to a series of stories examining Bridgepoint and the for-profit education world. Two of the best pieces were a column in the Financial Times that was a well-balanced take on the arguments and motivations on both sides of the debate and a context-laden story in the online newspaper Inside Higher Ed.

• Bridgepoint executives wouldn't talk to us, so we had to seek out other stories where they did speak to learn some of their history and hear their voice. Bridgepoint CEO Andrew Clark did a Q&A with the Union-Tribune in June. Clark also wrote a piece for Inc. Magazine explaining his success in 2008 and did a similar story with the San Diego Business Journal a year earlier.

As we mentioned in our piece, Bridgepoint has also released its own website defending itself in the wake of the Senate hearing.

• Bridgepoint, like other for-profit colleges, has a huge military presence among its enrollees. In January, the New York Times did a story on scrutiny these colleges were facing because of how they recruit veterans. The piece quotes a former recruitment advisor from Bridgepoint's Iowa college describing aggressive recruitment tactics:

"We know they are going to pay, that they had a guaranteed way to get money," said Brent Park, a former Ashford University recruitment adviser, who worked there until 2008, when the university had already started to see a surge in veterans enrolling under the previous G.I. Bill.

Finally, we would be remiss if we didn't mention Don Bauder at the San Diego Reader who puts up a post almost every time Bridgepoint is in the news.

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