In addition to hosting quality branded campaigns, Blue Phoenix Media also owns and operates The Academic Network, which presents students with alternative education solutions.

Today at Forbes, Arnold L. Mitchem reports on the unnerving similarity between for-profit marketing companies and universities. Although to their credit, most marketing companies are pretty transparent about their endgame. They are out to move product and make money. According to Mitchem, large four-year universities are far less forthcoming.

Mitchem’s most telling identification? Calling college “admissions counselors” out as salespeople. Although, there are others who share that opinion of admissions counselors, too. That in a shrinking economy, their job has no become to encourage otherwise financially unable students to take out enormous loans for programs that may or may not put them in a rewarding career path. Mitchem writes:

Rather students often believe the “salesperson”–individuals serving as an “admissions counselor” at for-profits–who encourage them to take on high-interest loans likely to be defaulted.

The sophisticated marketing and recruiting techniques of many for-profit institutions thereby take on a predatory nature, similar to what we have seen in the subprime mortgage crisis in the mortgage industry. These high-pressure transactions, in which institutions promise quick degrees and jobs in exchange for high tuition, are deeply dishonorable because there is an inherent inequity in the relationship between the low-income consumer and the industry.

And although Mitchem’s scope focuses on low-income students, it may be a sentiment well felt by any student looking to obtain a degree. The solution? According to Mitchem, far from simple:

Ensuring college opportunity for all requires that the nation make a substantial investment in pre-college counseling and advising for low-income, first-generation students and their families–a much larger effort than we have undertaken to date.

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