The minute I got off the plane, got picked up in an overstuffed van and taken to a motel for orientation with the other suckers, fed cheap snacks and juice in a Dixie cup and placed in far away housing, I knew something wasn't right. To begin with, I contacted a Collins sales rep via telephone after seeing an ad on TV and looking up their website.
I was looking up schools out of state because Hawaii's University didn't provide advanced up to date training in media production back in 2004-2005. Their website looked legitimate so I made the call and was greeted and informed by a very friendly 20 something girl (who's name I can't recall but have written down somewhere,) who gave me a very detailed and positive narrative of the school, it's curriculum, staff, housing, accreditation and emphasized it's state of the art training with up to date software and computers. Over two weeks, I corresponded with this same rep who assured me I didn't need to bring a computer from home as a new one would be provided that would run the current software needed for classes and no matter what my financing options, they would adjust the loan for payment up to one year after completion of the courses, no problem. Let's say not one of the promises made while I was in Hawaii came out as claimed saved for the location of the school.
They sent a brochure for a 17 inch screen Powerbook G4 laptop and tried to deliver without telling me a 15 inch Powerbook with a smaller drive and less features. It took 4 months or more and many letters to different departments who ignored me before I finally ended up writing the President of the school 3 or 4 times to get a meeting, only to have him deny they were in any way obliged to provide the computer they said they would, citing some claim of the right to making changes to equipment availability without notice forcing me to threaten to leave the school and report them to The Better Business Bureau. Only THEN did they provide the right computer and 4 months after scheduled delivery. I had to do all my homework at the school between classes and work.
Fortunately the courses were so easy, I aced them all, save for one C in audio production caused by choosing to work on a production in another county for a week, missing the final. They modified my loans without notification until after the changes took effect, including a decision to change my loan to pay as I attend instead of after completion of courses. They kept increasing the amount until it was over $150 a month. My availability for employment was low while attending classes was low and they had a waiting list for campus jobs that I had to get on, so I took low paying employment and commuted without a car (another detail they left out saying I didn't need one for a campus job,) to provide basics like food and rent, something they said the loan would take care, then they drop the $150 a month on me.
Even with a full class schedule and work I realized I was in trouble, so tried to make the best of a bad situation, working full time, getting A's and even sitting in on second "year" courses more my speed to get pointers. Needless to say, it became apparent I was losing ground in AZ every month. My health suffered, there was no security no touted numerous employment opportunities, no accreditation to apply for grants as a Native Hawaiian. Since moving home, I can say it's the major reason why I am still on the *** of bankruptcy with Sallie Mae threatening to garnish my non-existent wages and homeless to boot at present.
I returned broke, sick, exhausted, without a certificate and little references, no place to live, no car and no leads. I recovered enough to find patch work while providing home care for my Mom, then my Dad before he died, but it's been very sketchy at best. The fact I attended Collins never impressed anyone serious in the business, even when I was in AZ. In fact, I was told I was a sucker about halfway through the first curriculum by people I applied to work for.
Trade school scams are common in AZ I find out, Collins even had 20/20 do an investigative report on them. It's no wonder the students were left to fend for themselves and vainly compete with Alumni for production work anywhere in AZ, sometimes showing up to the same job calls. Now I'm faced with the weight of this travesty keeping me from getting stable work without being hampered by crushing student loans for a promised education meant to increase my skill set and wage potential that not only never took lived up to it's promised advertising, but has actually caused me to struggle to recover from what should have been an out of state trip to better myself and provide potential career options that weren't available before attending their school. Do NOT believe a word these people tell you.
They are there to collect money from you through borderline if not actually fraudulent loan practices, kick you out with nothing to show and destroy your financial standing with crippling debt you can't do anything about. Do anything but attend this Sham. Tell everyone you know, too. My life was hard in AZ for 2 years, but it has been in shambles since 2007 and my return home after burning through my limited resources for nothing, wrecking my health, wasting time and gaining nothing on my resume' here in Hawaii, making finding work even worse, on and on and on...
I have no money to fight these crooks or I would have tried to find a lawyer ages ago. Sadly, I hope more people being burned by Collins will change things for my chances at seeing them exposed. Thanks for listening. This is a first draft.
Contact me if you know any way I can find help. Mahalo and Aloha