I am a recent former employee of AIU Online in Beaverton, Oregon, and I am writing this message in hopes that the company will reform it's practices while providing prospective employees with a clear understanding of the job for which they are applying. Please note that my employment lasted from November 2009 to August 2010, just so you know that this report is up to date.
When I first applied to AIU Online, the job description stated that I would be functioning as an admissions adviser that interviews prospective students and provides a recommendation for their acceptance to the university. When I interviewed at AIU, I had a number of questions for my interviewer. Having worked in call centers for a couple years before, I wanted to know what kind of shift I might be expected to work. I was advised by my interviewer that A variety of shifts are available. Like many of the practices AIU employs, this was a lie. After my employment began at AIU and I completed training, I learned about the available shifts, all of which ended at 7:00pm and worked at least one weekend day. That isn't variety, unless variety is defined as one shift going from 8:00am 7:00pm, and the other going from 10:00am 7:00pm.
The job itself is partly true as defined by my interviewer. Unfortunately, he did not include the part where I would be a hated telemarketer. Most of the job entails dialing lead inquiries, most of which are confused as to why they are being called and often ends in screaming or a familiar click on the other end of the phone. The other type of call is a Queue Call, where prospective students are screened by an outside agent before transferring them to me, the salesman/adviser. Toward the end of my employment, I began to keep a record of all of my queue calls and how they resulted. On an average day, 75% - 85% of the Screened calls I received were not interested people that signed up to receive a free laptop, were looking for scholarships, or were applying for jobs via a major job website. For those that do show genuine interest or just don't want to hang up the telephone, I was charged with getting to know the prospective student on a personal level, followed by a long-winded script including a great deal of legal statements so the university/company can avoid being sued. After wasting 40 minutes of my breath, I crossed my fingers and hoped the student decided to enroll.
If there is one thing you need to understand about the position of Admissions Adviser at AIU, it is that you are not an adviser except for maybe, and I stress MAYBE, 10% of the job. In reality, Admissions Adviser means Salesman, while Director of Admissions and Admissions Manager mean Sales Managers. If you take a job at AIU Online in Beaverton, you will be expected to enroll at least 7-8 students per school start date, and roughly 9-10 per month despite the steep odds I mentioned in the previous paragraph, and you will also be trained and heavily encouraged to use deceptive and dirty sales tactics including misrepresentation of AIU's programs. For example, AIU Online offers a limited number of programs, despite claims the university website makes in addition to their article posted on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_InterContinental_University.
While their published articles explain that AIU offers degrees in various fields, they actually offer an Associates of Arts in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Information Technology, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication, Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, Master of Business Administration, Master of Information Technology, and a Masters of Education. Those are pretty narrow fields. For each field of study, AIU offers a Concentration, which basically equates to a college minor, in which students take three to four classes in a specialized field, such as Healthcare Administration, Marketing, Computer Forensics, and many more. At least twice daily, one of my conversations was from someone wanting to get a degree in nursing. My job as a salesman was to convert them to pursuing an Associates/Bachelors of Business Administration and get a few measly courses in the health-care field. Management advised us to question the prospective students motive for wanting to be a nurse, and belittle their dream and understanding of the field by explaining how they would never make it into nursing school, but a degree in business could help them get into another part of the medical field. In other words, AIU does not offer a nursing degree, so I could not sell that, and my two weeks of training and less than a years worth of experience as an adviser was qualified to smash their career goals and make them study a subject matter they want no part of. AIU called it overcoming objections, I called it high pressure sales. A real school would forward students to a place where they can get what they want. It's kind of like walking into a grocery store, discovering that they don't carry X-Box controllers, and then having someone try to sell you a DVD. It just doesn't work.
Signing up to receive information from AIU is much like asking to receive collection calls that never go away. I mentioned that calls are pre-screened by an outside company. The pre-screning company has an auto-dialer that continually dials inquiries as many as 20 times or more per day until it reaches someone, then, whether they want to or not, the inquiry gets transferred to a salesman. Once the salesman (adviser) has the inquiry in their system, they are advised by management to dial that number three times daily until a yes or no is reached. I've heard AIU employees say: We are not technically a telemarketing company. I only agree in that I believe AIU is worse. At least telemarketing companies don't harass inquiries like a collection agency.
AIU will enroll anyone that wants to sign up. Anyone. If a student has an accredited high school diploma, they can sign up to accumulate thousands of dollars in debt. AIU employees have only one thing in mind when it comes to enrolling students, and it is not a changed life or the success advisers will talk aboutit is numbers. If an adviser does not meet numbers, they get put on a warning system that ends in termination if enrollments are not met.
Every time someone enrolls at the university, the team enrollment increases by one, and all you are is a sale. If a student can pay a $50 application fee, write seven sentences, and fill out a bunch of personal information, they will be accepted at AIU. Every time someone completes an interview, a meeting takes place between salesman and sales manager, which is basically just an informational gathering that ends in the director signing off on an enrollment. Directors of Admissions do not decline enrolling a student. I could walk into a admissions/sales meeting, pick my nose, then get back on the phone and Congratulate the new student on their new enrollment at AIU as if it was a challenging task. The challenge was for the adviser/salesman, who fights to get a student on the telephone and complete their application. It is not a daunting task, believe me.
In the end, I could probably write a small book on all the garbage that goes on at AIU sales offices. Between the constant fake smiles, unanswered and avoided questions, and pressure by management to sell to the point of harassment, AIU is not a place to work if you want to work in education. The pay and benefits are good, but only good enough to keep you around. When I gave notice, AIU would not fire me, but they tried to get me to quit early on multiple occasions, including the day I gave notice. In a real university setting, admissions recruits and accepts students based on the amount of room available. At AIU, there is an unlimited supply, and the consumer has no real incentive (other than that which is manufactured by the salesman) to buy into the product. If you have an Associates degree, love pushing numbers, and enjoy telemarketing, AIU is the place for you. Otherwise, keep collecting unemployment, because that is preferable to being brainwashed by a company that cares only about keeping their high-payed corporate overlords in office. In other words, this job sucks, and no amount of money should ever convince you to take it.