- Report: #912977
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Peirce College
Peirce College1420 Pine Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States of America
Peirce College wolf in sheep's clothing... over-priced degree mill can't be trusted Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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At first, Peirce seemed like a viable option due to the flexibility it heavily advertised: rolling, open admissions; semesters starting every seven weeks; nominal $50 application fee (at least compared to other schools); generous financial aid packages along with "competitive tuition"; and convenient operating hours. The admissions reps were eager, enthusiastic, and willing to do practically anything to make sure enrollment went smoothly, and with most of its programs available entirely online, the fact that I was stationed hundreds of miles away wouldn't interfere with finishing what I'd started years earlier. Though I had no intentions of finishing an entire degree at Peirce (after all, it's a business college and I was interested in pursuing math or journalism), I'd heard nothing but good things about the school before I'd left Philadelphia, and I thought it would be a great way to pick up credits to take elsewhere.
But the red flags were immediate. At times my admissions rep was TOO eager, and the rest too free-wielding with student loans; when filling out my FAFSA I noticed Peirce's stats and retention rates were better than far superior schools, as if no one ever left or dropped out; I realized there was no real admissions application/process (or even essay) involved and that Peirce's acceptance rate is virtually 100%. Regardless of your academic ability, you will get in as long as you pay the $50 application fee. Since I ended up in a rural military town with no local options, I was so desperate and anxious that I gave more weight to Peirce's accredited status and considered my other observations products of jaded skepticism from past mistakes. As long as they were regionally accredited, I told myself, my credits would still count when I left. Plus, I couldn't find a bad review written about them anywhere.
But things didn't get any better. During my first semester, I was appalled to find that roughly three quarters of the student body weren't college-ready, at least not by any standards other than Peirce's. There were juniors and seniors who didn't know how to write college-level papers, use apostrophes, or conjugate verbs; plenty of people had trouble understanding basic concepts taught in middle and high school, and almost no one fully grasped netiquette and basic grammar; responding to forum posts (a crucial component in the week's assignments) was sometimes impossible. Also, there was no emphasis on critical thinking in any of my courses except one humanities class, and no real exchange of thoughts and ideas since no one seemed to know how to discuss anything or offer more than the required minimum (sometimes four sentences, sometimes as little as fifty words-- this got only marginally better as the semesters progressed). Forum posts were basically regurgitations of the most popular train of thought with little actual engagement, and most instructors never responded or participated in the discussions.
Peirce, like so many other distance learning programs, placed heavy emphasis on independent learning but often abandoned students in the process, leaving us to self-teach entirely. In some classes we only saw an instructor log in once a week; by my last semester, my COM professor took it even further by not signing in or interacting at all the first three weeks of class (mind you, the semesters are only seven weeks long). Since all of the messages for every online class at Peirce were always pre-typed, and every lesson uploaded weeks before, I'm sure he assumed no one would notice as each week passed and the lessons unlocked and updated themselves, and none of our assignments were being graded or returned.
This indifferent, haphazard, hands-off approach extended to the administration. No one ever knew what was going on, and every phone call resulted in being bounced around at least twice, whether it be for financial aid, admissions, etc.---a complete 180 compared to their efforts during enrollment. My academic adviser was also unresponsive, sometimes requiring multiple emails and phone calls to prompt a response, even though the school had an expressly stated 24-hr response policy in its handbook. When I asked a few other classmates what their experiences had been, some in blended online and in-class programs, their reports were similar. One person even mentioned being placed in a third level class just to keep her financial aid, even though she hadn't completed the prerequisites. This was enough for me to jump-start the transfer process, since by this point I'd earned close to the number of credits I needed as a transfer student to the four schools I had in mind.
Leaving was just as unsettling. When I went to update my FAFSA with the other schools' federal codes, I noticed that not only had Peirce's numbers stayed exactly the same as the year before, but that they charged the same tuition (roughly $1500 per 3-credit class) for both their in-class AND online classes---NO OTHER COLLEGE DOES THIS; on-campus classes are logically more expensive, while online classes cost universities no housing or food or utilities and the tuition is drastically reduced. Makes sense. Sure, Peirce's $1500 per class is less than what averages to $3000 per class in a traditional on-campus setting at a university, but guess what those schools are charging for their online programs---the same, and often LESS than what Peirce charges for theirs, yet tuition is advertised as "competitive" and "affordable." (If you're in the Philadelphia area, look up all of our top universities and check out their online programs -- these schools have separate tuition rates for on-campus and distance learning.) And strangely, when I began ordering copies of transcripts to be sent to other schools, I'd suddenly have a balance on my account causing the orders to be placed on hold, or unofficial copies sent instead, even though I hadn't added a class or done anything different and had already paid the fees and had copies sent days before without a problem. My financial aid rep, however, never knew what the issue was and stopped returning my calls while the bursar's office continued to disagree. The issue resolved itself when I stopped ordering transcripts and ordered the last two three weeks later.
Peirce also has a way of doing things to easily circumvent student signatures. I changed my major via email; I withdrew from the school the same way. I did NOT have an exit interview (something I expected at least via phone), nor did I receive a letter confirming my withdrawal/transfer. But I got a letter every time it was time to register. And for every academic honor. And when they decided to introduce a pre-paid Discover debit card for financial aid refund checks. And post cards to give to friends and family advertising the school. And so on. When I called to confirm my status I was told that according to my adviser, I had withdrawn "for personal reasons"; nothing was on record saying I was transferring out.
Good thing I saved the email I sent.
Unless academic integrity and quality of education are not concerns for you, avoid Peirce, despite what they promise. I'd never recommend this school to anyone---EVER. It's just not worth it.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 07/16/2012 06:08 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Peirce-College/Philadelphia-Pennsylvania-19102/Peirce-College-wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-over-priced-degree-mill-cant-be-trusted-Phila-912977. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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