I worked as an employee of AIU Online for 19 months at one of the Illinois locations and was recently terminated for a dip in my performance over the last 3 months of my employment. AIU has a lot of positive attributes that I will state, however there are also many negatives that I have not seen mentioned here, so I would like to enlighten some of you with my knowledge.
The programs at AIU are phenomenal, I have a family member that actually designs the courses and she works very hard at what she does to make sure that the course materials are not only current and relevant, but presented in a way that is easily understood. The technology is not even closely matched by any of the other online universities (save CTU online, which uses the same platform)
I am not hugely familiar with the academic, or financial aid aspect of it, but I do know that AIU no longer takes credits from anywhere now, they do not do block transfers into a bachelors program anymore, even if an associates degree has already been conferred. Financial aid is now trained to have good interpersonal skill so that they are able to effectively communicate with students (which they still don't) needless to say, AIU is making changes to improve the inner workings of its departments.
Now on to admissions. where do I even begin? Last year there was supposed to be a switch in AIU from a sales culture to a more student based service culture. a lot of terminology was changed to seem more customer service oriented. despite all the smoke screens, it is not any different than it was before. There still remains a high pressure to hit numbers by any means possible.
The way that they go about doing this is by issuing advisors what is called a 30 day performance improvement plan, there are 3 phases of this plan. phase 1 is a verbal warning, you are not required to sign any thing, however it is clearly stated that you have to improve or unfavorable action might be taken against you. phase 2 is a written warning which states the same as phase 1, however you have to sign that you understand what the warning means and that you will do whatever you can to meet the expectations. Phase 3 is the final phase ( most people skip 1 and 2 and just go straight to this phase) this is the final written warning, and is almost a guarantee that you will be fired. The expectations in writing for all admissions advisors on this plan are that you get at least 6 enrollments and at least 4 of them start school. To a person who hasn't worked there would believe that this would be an easy goal to meet but it is not easy at all, and this is coming from a person who has been team lead several times and was always believed to be a person who would be in a management position.
The inquiries have traditionally been created from a variety of different sources, I remember a lot of people telling me that they were just filling out a survey, or trying to win something on the internet, and there is the obvious "real inquiry" a person that actually goes to www.aiuonline.edu and clicks "request information" I have never had a hard time getting a hold of people until recently and I know that these marketing tactics have changed because I had to start dialing the phone as much as 400 times a day to reach a handful of people (most of which were not happy to speak with me) maybe AIU has revamped there marketing process, and it holds a little more integrity then the prior method. However now you are left with over a thousand admissions advisors to call people that aren't necessarily looking to get college information.
Let's break this down; there was a culture change from sales to service, admissions advisors that didn't hit there numbers got put on plans, and the inquiries never requested information from AIU. How does one go about meeting the expectations the university has set for them under these circumstances? Sell Sell Sell! The truth of the matter is, there is a major problem with the organization and tactics the management uses to turn a profit. I'm not going to go as far as saying they are evil, but they are very immoral people that do not care about there employees wellbeing. I have seen a lot of good employees that truly cared for there students, and operated with complete integrity get the boot for having a bad month.
In closing, AIU offers a fantastic program that if properly presented to an employer should land you the job you are looking for, however don't be fooled, you are just a number as far as the people who run the university are concerned. If you can handle just being a number on the board, AIU might be a good choice. Your enrollment may actually save some poor guys job. If you are looking for a Job on the other hand, dont even consider working for this company. they treat there employees like crap, and use extreme pressure tactics to get them to produce, I may actually lose my house because they are trying to deny me unemployment while I search for another job, which is sad because AIU is the first company that ever wanted to let a hardworking employee such as myself go.