Please visit westwoodisawful.com
Having been in the Information Technology industry for over 15 years and working as an IT director, I looked forward to getting a degree in IT in order to join the ranks of management. With the birth of my son and having to work up to 10 hour days, few if any options were available for me back in late 2006. Browsing on-line and looking at various colleges and available options, I was set to attend night school at a local community college and work towards a bachelors degree by taking night classes. I received several calls from recruiters from a few IT colleges inquiring about my requests for information. Benjamin from Westwood won me over. Researching Westwood on-line, there werent many complaints as compared to the other colleges of this type. After discussing with my wife, we decided that I would enroll in Westwood College Online which would allow me to be home with my newborn son and help my wife while obtaining a degree. Ideal isnt it? Admission Promises
During the admission process and in retrospect, Benjamin the Admission Counselor, whom I would discover after graduation was actually a sales rep, told me what I wanted to hear to gain my confidence and make the sale. I knew the differences between accreditations and he assured me that they were working hard and would not quit until they received Regional Accreditation (Westwood eventually voluntarily resigned this accreditation). Yes, the cost of the education ($60,000) is expensive but you get what you pay for. Westwood College is well known throughout the IT industry and we send students to Microsoft, IBM, HP, ... We have a high graduation rate and you can make serious money after graduation. He emailed me the datasheet for the Information System Security bachelors degree. I was very impressed. Since I would probably like to continue my education and work towards a masters degree, I was assured by Benjamin that the credits I earned from Westwood would transfer to any traditional brick and mortar college. Financing would be no problem through various loans and grants that they would help me sign up for as long as I had a high school diploma. Job placement assistance was another selling point with Benjamin. Being an older learner and with my vast experience, they would assist me in getting interviews with several of the larger IT companies in Southern California.
After passing the admissions exam, getting transcripts to them etc., I received various emails in regards to loan applications and how to complete the FASFA. The rush to get me enrolled made my head spin. Looking back at it now, trying to keep up with the many demands that the admission process required kept me off my guard. But, I was enrolled and on my way to get a valued bachelors degree in Information Systems Security.
Quality of Education
Remember I get what I pay for? Not wanting to cheat myself, I took every class seriously. Studied during my work breaks and did not use the books for exams. I wanted to make sure I was getting everything I was going to pay for. Attended all of the discussions and did all of the lab work that was required. But there were doubts about what I was learning. I asked several of the instructors why we were reviewing outdated technology in some of the classes. I was told that the information in the class is on the certification exams that you can take after you successfully complete the course. Being gullible, I took that as a good explanation. Having several certifications under my belt already before starting Westwood, I did not remember seeing old tech questions on previous certification exams but this was a college and they wanted me to succeed!.
A month after graduation, I attempted to take several certification exams using the books, notes and tests I was given at Westwood. Using that information, I was bewildered to find that I was ludicrously unprepared and failed. Went to a book store with an attached coffee shop and reviewed the books there, at no cost. Comparing the material given by Westwood to what was in the test prep book; I was an astonished to find that the material from Westwood was watered down.
Chapters made out of footnotes? I did pass the exam after a retake but I used books from a book store and not the material I paid for from Westwood. I have all of the books that Westwood sent me. Comparing them to the technology exams and other material out there readily available for free, it is my opinion that I could have saved myself all of this trouble by visiting the book store and studying for free. Westwood gave me a weak, watered down education, which did not prepare me for the real world or did it have any relevance to real world issues.
Value of Degree
Westwood College is well known throughout the IT industry and credits will transfer to other colleges? After taking a break from graduation three years ago, I took my transcript to Cal Poly Pomona to start my tract for a masters degree. Upon review by the admissions office, they stated that they could not transfer any credits from Westwood. I explained what Benjamin had told me and swiftly called Westwood upon arriving home. Upon reaching a representative, I was told that
until they obtain Regional Accreditation, some credits may not transfer to some colleges. Not what I was told through the admission process and all during my experience at Westwood from the instructors, counselors and finance people. Not deterred, I traveled to several other colleges in my area and was told the exact same thing. Credits will not transfer. A Fullerton admission rep explained that I could test out on classes already taken at Westwood. DSST, CLEP and EST exams
are routinely given for a fee and if you pass, most State and Private Colleges will give you college credit. So, books in hand from Westwood, I studied and as above, I failed. Same issue as previously stated; watered down books that had no related information that you would normally receive with a real college education. I went back to the book store for independent study. Yes, after studying the test prep guides and books related to the classes, I prepared to take standardized tests to get credit for classes I had already taken at Westwood. After several weeks of studying and prep using books from the bookstore, I passed.
Cost of Education
Get what you pay for? Well, if you have read my story so far, you would wonder if I did. So far, almost everything I was told by Westwood representatives was either a lie, or a twisting of the truth or a willful omission. The excitement over obtaining a Westwood degree soon diminished to disdain. Things in general regarding Westwood began to spiral downward.
Time to pay the piper came quickly. Sallie Mae and Great Lakes started sending me bills. Not getting anywhere fast and the economy now heading downhill just as quick, getting raises and promotions with the degree I obtained was proving to be a little difficult. News was out about the fraud and deception tactics Westwood had performed at several campuses across the US. In fact, Westwoods name kept pulling up in search engines under scam, fraud, degree milland my HR director was not stupid. She questioned the validity of the degree I obtained therefore denying me employee reimbursement for educational expenses. No chance in making management now either. According to my employer, Westwood still had not obtained Regional Accreditation and until they do, I was out of luck. Emails to Westwood asking for explanations were never responded to. Representatives would direct me to the website for answers. So, no extra money for me to help pay for this educational misadventure, no pay raise and no management position for me.
Started paying my signature loan but Sallie Mae wanted almost $750 month for this education I received. Totaled to almost half my take home salary between the two loans. Not what I was told during the admission process. Low interest loans easy to pay back after you graduate because we will help you land a job. Try 18% interest over 30 years. WHAT?? I will be 70 years old before this loan is paid off. No retirement for me huh? Starting to cost me more than what I bargained for. So I pay what I can after taking a pay reduction to keep my job when people are losing their shirts. Credit score has dropped but I have a roof over my head and able to feed my family. I still have no answers or have been offered any help for this after 3 years of trying.
Job Placement Assistance
We will help place you with a company after graduation, free resume review and posting services will definitely get you in the door at some of the largest IT companies so you can kick start your career. Not exactly what I was offered during the admission process but thats OK. I was not looking to start as a bottom feeder for minimal wage but if I could get in the door, I could show them what skills I had to offer. Westwood representative reviewed my resume, an instructor from one of the last classes I took walked us through posting it on-line and that is where the help ended. Asking for leads, I was told three separate times by two different Westwood employees that they could not help me. They do not have what I was looking for, no available work in Southern California, no large IT companies either. I could travel 60 miles and work desk support, apply for assistant manager at a fast food restaurant or apply for other entry positions not related to my field of study. Well, this is definitely not what I was told during my admission process by Benjamin. Panic and depression is now setting in.
Reputation of Institution
Several websites are warning potential students to stay clear of this college. Due to the fact that there are several litigations in process due to fraud and other informational websites have picked up the degrading fact that Westwood College students and graduates are Jerry Springers. Playing an active role in the IT community here in Southern California, I have queried many industry experts and IT companies and they do not recognize Westwood college degrees as being valid.
SCE, Wells Fargo, Shuffler, NTT Data, Experian and many others have indicated that they would not hire a Westwood graduate. Independent on-line research reveals search engine results returning key words such as fraud, law suites, deceptive practices and diploma mill. Not looking real good for a graduate is it?
Westwood College representatives lied to me, used deceitful practices and mislead me in regards to the quality and value of education I received. A Westwood education has left me with over $75,000 in college loan debt and with a degree that is not recognized, anywhere by anyone. The reputation of Westwood College is tarnished. I have done better studying independently using books free of charge and paying only for the test taking fees to obtain valid college credit. I have resigned myself to years of hard work and no hope of retirement due to Westwoods false promises, lies and omissions and I foresee no bright future for myself or family.
Remember that research posted above? It shows that litigation has been dismissed here in California. The state of Illinois AG is now suing you for the same practices as stated above. The websites that I used to vent have been removed and there are few if any websites dedicated to warning potential students about past and present practices. There is an informational void on the Internet where former students and employees of Westwood College go to post their frustrations and to answer questions from potential students of Westwood. I am now changing from a reactive to a proactive stance and will be starting my own anti-Westwood College campaign.
I plan on filling the above mentioned void by creating my own domain dedicated to Westwood where the hundreds of graduates and employees who have become frustrated can post their experiences and ideas. (westwoodisawful dot com
). Website will contain links to college review sites and complaints boards nationwide where visitors can go to post their experiences. Conclusion
I apologize to the readers for the length. It was as brief as I could make it and not all inclusive. As other States are shutting down this educational institution, I am amazed that they are allowed to continue here in the State of California. I have been on the defensive since graduating from Westwood and the gauntlet has been thrown. Westwood has made my life a living h**l, time to return a favor.