I was given a one-time opportunity by the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance (TBWA) to re-train for an in-demand career after being laid off from my job of over 6 years. I selected database administration as the course of study, and TechSkills as the institution to learn based on their persuasive on-line information
The promotional information doesn't describe the actual learning environment. They advertise classes, of which there are none. They offer one-on-one instruction from certified pros which I took to mean a lot of personal one-on-one interaction during the learning process and available to me at all times (which I knew I would need), but which turns out to happen only when a student has a question and is fortunate enough to find an instructor who knows the answer and who isn't busy with another student with a million questions. As this is a very technical, involved course, I also had many questions.
Since there was only one instructor who specializes in the program I was studying, Oracle9i, and he is only there on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 5pm to 8pm and every other Saturday, he was in great demand and I felt very bad about bothering him, as I know he also has administrative duties he must attend to. They have since added another person who knows a bit about the Oracle 9i database, which is a good thing, but it was too late for me.
I wasn't able to keep up on my own, which I virtually was, not having the resources promised. I felt like I went through the one-hour orientation, was handed the books, and pretty much set free to sink or swim. I was told I could ask questions whenever I wanted, but as mentioned above, finding someone who knew the answer was another story. They also said I could e-mail the particular instructor with a question, but I found an answer would not be forthcoming in a timely manner. This is an intense, condensed, accelerated course, and when a question needs to be answered before moving on, the question needs to be answered. It can't wait until the instructor gets to the school to open his e-mail, especially when he is only there 3 hours in the evening twice a week, and every other Saturday.
When I asked about the intense small group sessions, I was told they used to try to hold them, but not a lot of people showed up so they stopped. I would have shown up if they'd been made available to me, which they should have been.
The Oracle textbooks issued to me were supposed to come with a CD containing computer-based practice files which could be installed on my home computer, but there were no CDs.
One of the labs for Oracle9i was supposed to cover the use of the Oracle Universal Installer to install Oracle9i. This requires 3 CDs to complete, but disk No. 2 is missing from the school. I went as far as I could, through disk No. 1, and had to stop there. I guess the school considered my attempt at this lab complete, but I didn't.
When I went to the school to see what we could do about canceling the rest of my contract with them (the contract is for a total of 360 days) and getting a refund for the rest so I could cut my losses and try to salvage some of the money to attend a school that actually teaches what it says it teaches, I was told the Cancellation and Refund Policy issued to me doesn't apply, as TechSkills contract is with the Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance and not me, and that none of the money is refundable.
The Alliance gave TechSkills $3,000 to teach me Oracle9i in the manner they advertised they would teach me. If I had been aware a different set of Cancellation and Refund policy rules was actually in effect, not the one I was issued, I would have cancelled sooner as I gradually came to realize they weren't going to provide what they said they were going to provide. I certainly wouldn't have jeopardized TBWA's money so cavalierly, nor my own one-time offer of the much appreciated and much needed scholarship money.
This is not a sore loser letter. If I had gone into this association aware of what was actually going to be (or not going to be) provided, and failed.then, too bad for me. I've failed before, and will surely fail again before my life is over. I honestly felt I was lucky to find this institution that would provide the intense, comprehensive, accelerated, course of study I desired and required to prepare myself for the new career I've been forced to seek. I just wish they'd held up their end of the bargain and given me the actual Cancellation and Refund Policy to which I would be bound.
When I asked the director of the Tampa campus, Mike Smith, if all of TechSkills campuses were managed in the same manner as the Tampa campus, he said they were. I wonder if Mr. Jeff Miller, a Regional Manager for TechSkills, and any of his superiors, will collaborate that answer.
I don't think any of these things were done (or not done) with malice; it may simply be a matter of management becoming complacent and gradually letting their standards slip until they lost sight of how these oversights and omissions were affecting their students, but the consequence for me is still the same. I didn't get the education I contracted for, and now I, and the TBWA, are out a very precious $3,000 of educational money now safely in TechSkills coffers and no longer available to me.
I certainly would like to hear from The Commission for Independent Education and from Mr. Jeff Miller and any of the officers of TechSkills. I understand for any business, the bottom line is making money, but making money at the expense of trusting students not given the facts up front is at best reprehensible, at worst, criminal.
If anyone thinks I'm alone in my dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the method of TechSkills bait-and-switch operation, simply type in TechSkills complaints in your Google address bar and take your pick from the many sad stories of trusting, then bilked, consumers