This piece is inspired by an article on CNN.com titled "Students stung as computer schools close". After reading this, I realized that there hasn't been nearly enough coverage of this topic, especially considering how often this happens. Every year, dozens and dozens of training schools go out business leaving scores of ripped off students in their wake. We currently have members here that are involved in lawsuits for this very reason. In this article we are going to present some tips and suggestions that will hopefully help you avoid this type of situation.
We offer the following tips to help you avoid getting screwed. Keep in mind that these are suggestions that should help you narrow the odds in your favor, but are by no means fail safe solutions.
Choose training schools that are licensed or accredited. Most states license training schools through the state department of education. If that is not the case in your state or country, ask the training school which agency they are licensed through. Contact the licensing board and verify the school's licensure.
If you are in the U.S. and the training school is incorporated, check out the state business registry that the company is registered in. For example, in Oregon, the business registry is located here. If you enter our business name, 7 Seconds Resources, Inc, and search you can find out a lot of interesting information about us. Of special note is the date that the record starts. If your state does not offer this information online, you can most likely call them.
Find out how long the training school has existed. A business is most likely to go under sometime during their first 5 years. To verify the length of a school's existence, you can use the state business registry that was discussed above. If they have a web site, another tool you can use is internet WHOIS records. As an example, the following exerpt from a popular training company's WHOIS records tells us that they have been with this same registrar for nearly 10 years.
Record expires on 12-Jul-2004
Record created on 13-Jul-1995
This doesn't tell us how long they have been in business, but it does tell us that they have likely been around for at least 9 years and that would be a promising sign.
Training schools that have multiple locations will tend to be a safer bet. This is simply because they are likely a larger company and have more resources to get through difficult times.
Don't believe anything the schools tell you. There are plenty of stories regarding schools that have blatantly lied. When possible, independently verify any information that they give you.
Ask to audit a class so you can see what goes on for yourself. This may also give you a chance to speak with other students and get their feedback on the program.
Search the school's name in Google putting their name in quotation marks. How much talk on the internet is there about them? Do another search, this time putting their URL (if they have one) inside quotation marks. How many sites are linked to them? The more the better.
Consider a community college instead. Most community colleges have similar training and certification programs and usually cost less money. There is very little risk in going this route.
If for some reason, something does go very wrong and you do not get the training that you paid for or it is grossly unsatisfactory, there are several steps you should take. You should first make every effort to resolve the issue with the teachers and school administrators. If that doesn't work, you can report the problem to the following agencies.