December 3, 2021

One Fifth of DC’s Failed Southeastern University Graduates Passed the CPA Exam in 2010

You've probably never heard of Southeastern University and I don't say that to be an asshole about what I know before you do, I mean that to say it's a tiny, now defunct school based out of the worst part of DC. In case you don't know, Southeastern has since evaporated:

Last month I wrote about how Southeastern University in Washington, DC finally collapsed in de-accreditation after being allowed to persist in mediocrity and failure for far too long, leaving a trail of drop-outs, loan defaults, and frustrated students in its wake. Now comes news that seven of those students have sued the university for fraud in DC Superior Court–or to be more precise, sued the Graduate School, which absorbed the remnants of Southeastern after the university’s doors shuttered last fall. The plaintiffs are asking for $10 million in punitive damages and millions more in compensation. You can read the complaint here.

In 2010, Southeastern grads had a 20.5% pass rate on both first-time and repeat CPA exams with 23 candidates attending 44 events.

I wonder how many of those took Principles of Accounting without a teacher?

I left without buying anything and wandered down a nearby hallway, which was filled with the kind of notices and advertisements ("Roommate needed—no smokers or pets!") found on college walls everywhere. But on closer inspection, some of the notices seemed strange. "Listing of Classes Without an Instructor," one said, followed by a lengthy roster of courses like "Principles of Accounting" and "Health Services Information Systems." Oddly, it didn’t suggest that the classes had been canceled due to the lack of someone to teach them. It was more, "Hey, FYI."

Wait for it. Fans of the Keller Graduate School/Art Institutes of America/Everest model will appreciate this next point:

The decades-long saga of Southeastern’s perpetual dysfunction and ultimate demise exposes a gaping hole in America’s system of consumer protection for higher education. The government exercises remarkably little oversight over the colleges and universities into which hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars are poured every year, relying instead on a tissue-thin layer of regulation at the hands of accreditors that are funded and operated by the colleges themselves. The result is chronic failure at hundreds of colleges nationwide, obscure and nonselective institutions where low-income and minority students are more likely to end up with backbreaking student-loan debt than a college degree. The accreditation system is most egregiously failing the students who most need a watchdog looking out for their interests. The case of Southeastern shows how.

The first hint was that they built it in perpetually "up-and-coming" SE. Not the Capitol part, the bad part. The second hint was that they built it in DC. Are you kidding me? This is the most corrupt city in the nation, of course we had a degree mill hidden in the hood so someone would feel like they were "doing something" for the community there and get a payout.

The funny part is that I drove past this school every day for months and never knew it until just now. It looks awful. I thought it was just a creepy elementary school building in the hood neglected by the city (we're more like Maryland's stinky feet than DC proper) but it turns out it was a degree mill "teaching" teacherless accounting principals! Who knew?

So, think about that for a minute. 20.5% of these CPA exam parts were passed in 2010. It's 2012. These candidates are out there, prowling around in your tax returns. Out on audits. Hitting on girls from the neighborhood at the ATM (seriously, who does that?). The odds are against Southeastern grads for a reason, obviously, but some of them passed.

Of 7 AUD exams, 1 was passed. Out of 17 BEC exams, 3 were passed (that's the easiest part I hear). They took 13 FAR exams and passed 3. And of 7 REG exams taken, they passed 2. I can't add to save my life but I'm pretty sure assuming the AUD person also passed one each of the other three (crapshoot to say the least if you're self-taught in accounting at a degree mill in the DC hood unless you're really dedicated to learning it), maybe one of these candidates is a CPA now, doing business all around the DC metro.

It's a machine.

The Trillion Dollar student loan debt is disproportionally represented by students entering "For-Profit" colleges, those are your online schools such as University of Phoenix, Cappella, DeVry, and others. Those students attending "For-Profit" schools disproportionally leave school unemployed and hence default on their loans. Those are also the schools that drive up the on-average cost of college. For instance a student attending a University of Phoenix is likely to pay more per term than a student attending an in-state community college or state public institution.

This would all fit together if Southeastern wasn't founded long before the advent of default swaps and bitter, for-profit school bashing dickheads on the Internet:

Obviously, most colleges aren’t as bad as Southeastern. But it wasn’t some fly-by-night diploma mill. It was a regionally accredited non-profit university founded in 1879. Southeastern’s ability to keep enrolling students despite manifest failure was an outgrowth of the pervasive higher education conspiracy of politeness wherein everyone pretends that there’s no such thing as a bad college or university. They’re all just different, you see, each a unique flower waiting to be matched to an equally distinct group of students, all fine institutions with dedicated faculty who help students prepare for a successful and rewarding career by focusing on academic and professional preparation in a supportive environment with the latest technology, state-of-the-art facilities and one-on-one counseling.

The collective interest in propagating this falsehood is pretty easy to understand. This combined with the underlying social convention that student success and failure is exclusively the responsibility of the student–instead of the joint responsibility of student and institution–produces an environment where everyone can get away with reprinting the same boilerplate aspirational marketing stuff with little thought to whether or not concepts like “contract” and “fraud” might someday come into question.

Any Southeastern grads out there have anything to say? At least I know you are from the neighborhood so you aren't going to cry to me about how your feelings are hurt, unless you also took out a car note around the same time you went to teacherless Principals of Accounting at Southeastern with the help of the federal government, in which case I'd be butthurt too.

Just over the hill in the same quadrant lie the assholes who manufacture, package and approve this kind of education scam. Consider that for a moment.

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