CONSUMERIST: University Of Phoenix’s Risk-Free Trial Might Not Cost You, But Is It An Accurate Taste Of College?

Career College Central Summary:

  • From diet pills to dating websites, it’s not hard to find someone offering a “risk-free” trial membership, and thanks to the University of Phoenix, that “try before you buy” model now applies to college courses. But while one might admire the idea of giving potential students a taste of the school before committing to an expensive education at the for-profit online university, consumer advocates are concerned about the program’s benefits.
  • University of Phoenix’s latest ads now tout a three-week, risk-free trial period that purports to let prospective students test out college before diving into the pricey endeavor that would likely involve student loans.
  • The commercial begins with a woman sitting in a darkened room deeply contemplating the decision to return to college while her infant sleeps nearby. Ultimately, she simply clicks a button and begins her three-week journey at U. of Phoenix (after a short celebration dance).
  • While the commercial may be enough to convince those students on the fence about college to take the leap, it is lacking in the important details about how the program actually works or what students can expect to learn during their brief test run.
  • “It’s very easy for schools to put on a good show for the first seven to 14 days of class,” Robyn Smith, an attorney working with the National Consumer Law Center, warns about free-trial programs. “It’s really important for students to investigate these programs.”

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