My first college experience, at Bryant & Stratton College in Wauwatosa, was a complete nightmare that will haunt me forever, or at least until my student loans are paid off. I was 'dismissed' from the nursing program after failing a class that I don't think I should have failed. My experience with Bryant & Stratton was a long, dark, unforgivable journey.
My 1st Semester
First, I was told during the admission process that the nursing program was working-adult friendly because of the flexible day, night, or weekend class options. I was employed full-time when I enrolled in their recommended classes for the first semester of nursing school, which included a total of 6 courses. After I started to fall behind in course work I stopped attending 2 of the classes. In hindsight, I should have formally withdrawn from the classes, rather than earning myself 2 failing grades and unnecessary loans. I was a newbie to college and I didn't really understand all the new policies and rules yet. I could have done more research to determine ahead of time if that
schedule and amount of work was feasible for me, rather than taking
their "for-profit" word for it. So I took responsibility for
this mistake, but this was just the beginning of the end.
Nursing Program Policies
I want to point out what the nursing program policy was at the time I was enrolled. If a nursing student failed or withdrew/failed any 2 nursing classes, they were dismissed from the nursing program. Students had the option of writing a letter of appeal to attempt reentry into the program one time. Also, a failing grade was earned after 3 absences in 1 class, despite your academic achievement in the course. Also, if 2 clinical classes were missed you failed the class. Last, at the end of each nursing course we had to take a 3rd party online exam called an ATI.
The ATI Exams
The ATI exams were based on information from ATI books, which students were expected to study on their own time; it was not covered as part of the regular in-class lecture. Sudents received an ATI study book for each nursing class, sometimes at the beginning of the semester, other times mid-way through. We were not examined to check our progress on the ATI material unless we were lucky enough to have an instructor that cared enough to host a study group on their own time.
At the end of every nursing class, we were given a final ATI exam which was worth a large percentage of our final grade. I don't remember exact numbers, but this 1 exam was worth so much of the final grade that if you didn't score above the given benchmark you would fail the entire class, unless your grade prior to taking the ATI exam was in the high 90% range.
At the end of every semester you would see nursing students gathered nervously in the hallway, talking and whispering, before an ATI exam. A couple hours later, after the exam, you would see the same group either smiling, crying, or waiting anxiously for fellow students to finish. The ATI exams were nerve-wrecking, to say the least.
I was dismissed early in the nursing program for failing grades. That was my own fault. I wrote a 'letter of appeal' stating what my plan of action was to succeed if they gave me a second chance. My plan of action included cutting down to part-time hours at work so I would have more time to study and do homework. I was approved to continue in the nursing program but I was on academic probation. If I failed or withdrew from another nursing class I would be dismissed without the chance to ever appeal again.
Well, I did what I said I would do. I cut my hours down more than I could afford. I was working so few hours during my last semester that I was ineligible for benefits/insurance through my job and I was falling behind on all my bills. I was so excited though because I thought I was getting closer and closer to becoming a nurse. I was down to only 4 classes left. I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I was mistaken. Apparently it was just the train coming to run me over!
I was careful to not exceed my capacity, so when I saw that the Nursing Science (OB/pediatrics) class I needed was 7 credits I decided to take it alone, rather than in addition to any other classes. It did not matter though, I still failed the class. I knew it before the end of the first day of class. There were more than usual students repeating the class. There were rumors about the OB teacher being 'impossible,' and that she 'enjoyed belittling students.' Sure enough, I think they were right.
I don't know where to begin.....
To start, everyone failed the first exam. This may sound like I'm exaggerating but I swear I'm not. All 30-something of us, including the repeat students. The syllabus stated that the exam would be based on certain chapters of the textbook but it contained questions from other chapters instead.
Same issue for the 2nd exam, everyone but 1 student failed! (The student that did pass earned only a C) These exams were a good portion of our grade so we were all in pretty bad shape by this point. We all needed to do really well on the last few exams, PLUS, pass the ATI exam, just to get a passing grade. Of course many of us complained to the deans/director of nursing. We proposed different ideas to make up for the failed exams, such as being given new exams or being graded on a curve, but no action was taken.
Even worse, this same OB instructor that 'taught' our lecture portion
also happened to be my instructor for the clinical portion of the class.
The rumors were true, she seemed to love belittling students. It
seemed like a student lost their confidence and left the hospital crying
Then something happened at the hospital during our
clinicals with this OB instructor. I was told that she was asked to
leave the hospital and not return. I heard some rumors about why she
was asked to leave but I don't know for sure. That was the
last time I saw her though.
The rest of our in-class lecture and
clinicals at the hospital was taught by the Dean of the nursing
program. I was still shocked that nothing was being done about our failed exams. It was a complete joke. I was expecting a camera crew to come from nowhere with Ashton Kutcher yelling, 'you just got punk'd!'
Needless to say, I failed the class. I did okay on the last few exams but it wasn't enough to compensate for the first 2 failed exams. Also, I turned in a paper to the Dean after she took over the class, and when it was returned to me it was graded by the OB teacher everyone assumed was fired. Apparently she was still working behind the scenes.
I can't begin to make anyone understand how I feel. Stress, anxiety,
anger, embarrassment, helplessness, hopelessness, and financial debt are
a few words that come to mind. I think I will forever quiver and
relive the animosity every time I see a B&S (<-- see the irony
in the initials?) infomercial or advertisement.
So, here I am with a lot of nursing credits, a dismissal on my record, massive student loans, no degree, and no career.
I still feel traumatized and I have not yet attempted to continue nursing school elsewhere. Hopefully I can get out of the dumps soon so I can move on!
Bryant & Stratton Nursing Instructor Review
I have to say I had some really excellent instructors that were
knowledgeable and utilized the class time effectively. Those were the
classes I liked and seemed to do well in. However, I have to say that the standards for instructors at Bryant & Stratton seemed less than other nursing schools. I think most college-level nursing professors have a minimum of a Master's degree and so many years experience to be deemed proficient in their field. At Bryant & Stratton though, some teachers had no experience teaching, some said they only had a bachelor degree, and some had limited
work experience. I think the lack of experience and/or education really showed in some of their work as instructors. Some teachers would do things that negatively effected the students, such as cut the class time short, or ramble on about their personal life stories and experiences that were unrelated to the class.
Furthermore, I noticed a few instructors demonstrate unprofessional behavior by doing things like gossip with students about other students and instructors. One instructor in particular spent a good portion of a class period gossiping and complaining about the lack of benefits for the teachers, and other reasons there is a high turn over rate of instructors at Bryant & Stratton. Another example, when I was at one of my clinical sites at a hospital with my instructor and a group of other students, I excused myself to use the restroom during a class meeting in a board room. Before entering back into the room I heard a fellow student say, "what's taking her so long?" (referring to my trip to the restroom)
My instructor replied, "she's probably in there putting more makeup on."
I heard laughing. I waited a few more seconds before I went back in the room so they wouldn't know I heard them. I should have confronted the issue right away but I didn't want to stir up trouble when I was already feeling like I was on thin ice.
Message to Prospective College Students
I hope nobody else ever has to go through what I have. Please, please do your research before picking a college. Don't forget that colleges are businesses and you are their customer. I wish I would have chosen more carefully after high school.
It truly saddens me to see some of these For-Profit colleges targeting already disadvantaged populations for their own financial benefit, rather than the success of their students.
I'm definitely not saying nobody leaves this school successful, because I know the people that made it through the nursing program do have bright futures ahead of them. However, I think the chances of running into unresolvable problems at a good college is less likely. I haven't gone to any other colleges to compare yet, but I can't imagine what I have experienced is a typical experience for other college students. I hope not at least. Again, my advice is to do your research, attend informational seminars, and maybe read student reviews or interview current students at the colleges you're interested in before making a final selection.
If a next time ever comes for me, I will be prepared for anything.