LittleBizzy Review: Technical SEO Web Hosting

When I re-launched LittleBizzy, a managed WordPress hosting company, in early 2015, my business took off like never before. It was the direct result of narrowing my focus, emphasizing quality above all else, and making sure that customer service was fast and actually solved problems. While I’m not particularly “good” at business nor do I see myself as some sort of entrepreneurial figure, I’ve been blessed with success in the world of WordPress hosting, and wanted to share some of my perspective.

Building an “online” business is ALWAYS tough.

However, growing a business on the web is often a challenge for different reasons than many people might think; after all, the only difference between an ONLINE business and an OFFLINE business is sometimes just that: the internet itself.

Sure, there are typical issues like cash flow, scaling, finding customers, hiring staff, and so forth, but one of the most challenging things is this: REPUTATION.

Reputation, although not something that every customer checks before ordering from you, is enough of a concern that it can greatly influence the growth and longevity of your business — online OR offline, of course. But there is a special tendency for online businesses to attract a higher amount of negativity, perhaps…

Growing LittleBizzy “All By Myself”…

According to a widely-circulated 2013 report by Dimensional Research, customers who feel they’ve had a negative experience with a brand are 50% more likely to tell other people about it than if they’ve had a positive experience. Not only that, but these “angry” customers are also 52% more like to post that “negative” experience somewhere on the internet, such as Yelp, Crunchbase, LinkedIn, past clients, or otherwise.

Now, I’ve always kinda sucked at math, but if you factor in that a brand is already an online-only business, and that, by nature, all of their customers must be web-savvy in order to become customers or initially seek out the business in the first place (i.e. LittleBizzy), I’m pretty sure the above 52% figure becomes something more like 82% (disclaimer: not a scientific conclusion whatsoever). That is, whether or not your online company’s “quality” is good or bad, the chance of certain angry, jealous, or otherwise entitled people trying to hurt your image on the web is pretty strong.

This is precisely why online businesses have such HUGE risk when it comes to reputation. And when 90% of consumers say they are influenced by online reviews when making their decisions, well… boy oh boy, the odds are truly stacked against you.

Growing LittleBizzy as a brand “all by myself” was both a blessing and a RISK, because while it gave me more say over decision making and quality control, it also meant that Jesse Nickles (that’s me, folks) WAS LittleBizzy for the first few years…

“I am not associated with the cookie. I AM the cookie. My personality is part of that cookie; the cookie is an extension of my personality. It is infused by my warmth, spirit, and love. Being made with the highest-quality ingredients, it represents my beliefs.” — Wally Amos, Famous Amos

Unlike Wally Amos, however, who is quoted above, I’m usually not described as being “warm” and “loving.” While those who know me, even many customers, often describe me as being compassionate or extremely attentive to their needs, I can often come across as overly blunt, direct, or “unfiltered”, perhaps due to my background in analytical research, and my affinity for political and philosophical discussions… (oops?).

Thankfully, I’ve always known this about myself, and though I’m not ashamed of my INTP personality type, LittleBizzy has grown quickly enough to afford hiring on a few people more in tune with being “service-minded.”

But why does any of this matter?

LittleBizzy Review: Flipping A Weakness

In case you haven’t noticed, this entire article is carefully crafted to rank high for search terms such as “LittleBizzy” or “Little Bizzy” or maybe even “LittleBizzy reviews” or “Little Bizzy review” type searches on Google.

Huh!? You see, I’m a huge believer in accomplishing multiple goals within the same article; this one is no different. Please allow me to explain a bit further…

GOAL #1: Ultimately, the goal of this piece is to rank toward the top of Google results to catch the attention of any potential WordPress website owners who are considering ordering hosting from LittleBizzy. Interested? → Hosting Plans

GOAL #2: Alternatively, however, for those who aren’t necessary in the market for web hosting but who just want to know some background on myself or the business, this allows me to get my voice out there, in anticipation of other negative or critical feedback that is sure to come our way, eventually. By being pro-active and constantly seeking out positive attention, we can defend against potential haters and complainers. (Hell, LittleBizzy has already survived a frivolous $1 million lawsuit from a diploma mill without spending a dime, so we are ready as we’ll ever be, I suppose…)

GOAL #3: Lastly, this post serves to prove my expertise. This is a perfect example of turning a weakness into a strength, because while online businesses are more susceptible to reputation problems, they are also more CAPABLE of defending themselves with facts, figures, and online case studies (unlike the local pizza shop). Because CollegeTimes is hosted on the LittleBizzy cloud, and to demonstrate our phenomenal infrastructure and SEO expertise, if this post can rank high on Google for topics related to LittleBizzy it will be a fantastic example of our hosting cloud’s potential.

Ultimately, when it comes to the online reputation of your business, don’t hide your weaknesses, but publicly address them. While QUALITY should arguably be your first priority, TRANSPARENCY can serve you wonders in the long run.

The Best Managed WordPress Hosting

“That’s nice,” you are thinking. “But… um… why is LittleBizzy the best?”

Maybe you take our word that our infrastructure is top of the market, and that we’ve found a way to seamlessly pair together some of the best technologies on the web into a stellar web hosting service, such as CloudFlare, DigitalOcean, and CodeGuard.

But what REALLY sets LittleBizzy apart is how pragmatic it is.

The reason we pair together various technologies isn’t just for fun — rather, it’s because after nearly a decade of doing SEO and web development consulting, I finally realized that the biggest issue affecting small to medium business owners (SMBs) was the instability caused by CONFUSION as they cycled through dozens of freelancers screwing up their DNS settings, server configurations, and otherwise.

Week after week for several years now, hundreds of apps, services, and technologies have been coming out, trying to sell businesses on their usefulness. From web hosting, to DNS management, to email services, to calendars… you name it, they keep on coming out with new things, while meanwhile, business owners are still trying to figure out how to login to all their various “dashboards” and “control panels”…

“We hired Jesse to speed up our WordPress website but what he’s done has way beyond exceeded our expectations. He has improved our entire hosting and server set up and he’s taken on more projects beyond this one for us. Jesse, it’s been a wild ride. Thanks for all your help as I grew my business and watched you grow yours. Here’s to the future!” — LittleBizzy client, via Upwork

By taking on a more centralized role in these processes, and partnering with the best technology providers on the web, LittleBizzy seeks to be a true source of speed, stability, and security for not just WordPress websites, but for businesses as a whole.

If this interests you, check us out, and thanks for clicking :)

St. Francis School of Law

Rap Song ‘Sallie Mae Back’ Goes Viral

Department of Education employees are chuckling this week after a new rap song dedicated to paying off student loans went viral around the web.

New Orleans-based rapper Dee-1 is the lucky star, after his new track ‘Sallie Mae Back’ — which recalls his real life story of being able to finally pay off his student loans after signing a recent recording deal — struck a welcome (albeit perhaps bittersweet) chord across the US among millennials and beyond.

Sallie Mae is one of the largest student loan services in America, a quasi-government entity in charge of loaning federal money to college students.

“For those that doubted me yeah this is payback. And I been on my grizzy {​yeah}​ since way back. And no sir and I don’t drive a Maybach. But guess what I did?

I finished paying Sallie Mae back… Mae back.”

Dee-1, Sallie Mae Back

Although the YouTube video achieved over 100,000 views within a week of being released, it fared even better on Facebook where it’s already been watched over 1+ million times (in other news, it looks like Facebook’s recent focus on video content is paying off handsomely for content creators).

The team at Sallie Mae were quick to pay notice to the viral hit. One of their loan officers, Temeka Easter, posted on behalf of the company in the comments section of the video on Dee-1’s Facebook page:

“We’re all in the office singing along with you! Love, love, love the hook. Congratulations on your success!” #SallieMaeBack #Dee1Nation Temeka & the Sallie Mae team

Dee-1, whose real name is David Augustine Jr., graduated from Louisiana State University and became a Middle School teacher for several years in order to fund his musical dream. His new album also features a darker-themed track apparently inspired by one of his students who was tragically murdered.

The music video starts off with a disturbing reminder that current student debt in the US stands at over $1.2 TRILLION as colleges continue to raise tuition fees and increase the salaries of their presidents, while meanwhile very little is being done to halt the fraud and abuse being perpetuated by for-profit diploma mills.

Lambton College : Nanchang (China)

Case Study: ‘Thompson Career College’ Reveals What’s Wrong With Canadian (American) Higher Education

PHOTO: A group of Filipina “student” immigrants play a lingerie game apparently at the site of one Thompson Career College campus in Canada during May 2015. The school, which changed locations several times in its short 15 year existence, apparently lost control of its Facebook page which fell into the hands of these ladies. TCC was recently purchased by for-profit Stenberg College under tightly guarded terms.

Chances are, unless you are an aspiring pharmacy technician from the Philippines, you’ve probably never heard of Canadian for-profit Thompson Career College (TCC).

Founded in 1999, the secretive career college was recently bought out by Surrey-based Stenberg College, another small for-profit college brand in Canada. The exact date and details of this acquisition are, of course, a complete mystery, as is now so common in the for-profit higher education “industry” that grows bigger every day. However, extrapolating from a brief “slideshow” that now appears on TCC’s former homepage, thompsoncc.ca, the acquistion happened sometime during the last several months (early 2015).

Not only is there no page or blog post mentioning the transition on TCC’s or Stenberg’s websites, but there is also ZERO mention of the deal across all typical PR, news, or media channels in Canada or beyond. The buyout of TCC seems to have been an intentionally secret deal presumably hoping to avoid scrutiny. So, let’s dig deeper, shall we?

Race To The Bottom, Then, A Secret Buyout

In the business world, buyouts happen all the time, and are a normal part of a company’s existence. Unfortunately, as readers of CollegeTimes should be well aware of, the rapidly growing for-profit education “industry” is quick to take advantage of “public” benefits, such as student loans or government grants, but then often turns around and leverages “corporate” strategy against students, their families, and tax-payers.

Take, for example, TCC’s domain registrar, SiberName, who has stripped all ownership information from the thompsoncc.ca domain, which is not only illegal in Canada, but also breaks the international terms set forth by ICANN, the non-profit organization that manages internet domain names (and if you think that CIRA, the Canadian government-backed regulator of domain names gives a shit, they don’t). In other words, members of the public have no idea who the owner of TCC’s current website domain actually is, or if the owner recently changed, or anything else of the sort. It would seem the Canadian government continues to play catalyst to this cocky game of secrecy and corruption among for-profit colleges by refusing to enforce not only their own laws, but international laws, not to mention the accreditation “standards” that the Canadian government professes to monitor (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

1999-2015. That is exactly 15 years (or a little bit more), which, although a relatively short lifespan for a college, should at least have generated some basic chatter across the web. Bizarrely, however, almost no information can be found when searching Google or other web search engines for TCC related topics. Out of the mere 11 pages of results found on Google for “Thompson Career College” you can only discover:

Amazingly, in less than 15 years, TCC managed to have one, two, three, four, five, six locations that I could personally track down, with constantly changing phone numbers, addresses, and program information.

Then, out of the blue, TCC was “acquired” by Stenberg College, and panties start flying all over their Facebook page. The word “surreal” is an understatement.

Diploma Mills, Visa Fraud: Everyone Wins?

The school, also formerly known as Thompson Career College of Health and Business, is utterly a ghost. It is literally so insignificant across its 15+ years of existence that attempting to rank it, compare it, or even analyze it at any level is virtually impossible.

But if you think that the Canadian government cares whatsoever, you don’t understand a thing about modern higher education in North America.

In short, Canada continues to prove itself a major player in terms of diploma mills. Arguably, the country has more diploma mills per-campus than any other developed nation in the world, and that is exactly how their government likes it: at the end of the day, more diploma mills means more student visas, and more student visas mean keeping that insane GDP ($7.7 billion at last count) that students bring in to the Canadian economy. And if you think the “students” give a rat’s ass, then you are forgetting they are only using their visa as an excuse to never leave Canada after they first arrive from countries such as India, Pakistan, Philippines, and beyond.

“But how on earth do these places remain accredited!?” one may wonder. Well, that’s easy! When the directors of your school are also in control of the “career school” accreditation agencies, well… let’s just say they don’t even try to hide it:

Thompson Career College was founded in 1999. Our focus is to help train the workforce needed to deliver high quality health care services to Canadians.

We believe in the Canadian universal access health care system and in the important role that educational institutions have to play in that system. We also believe that private colleges should work in a spirit of cooperation and mutual support with public institutions and the health care community to deliver high quality education and training at a reasonable cost. We select the programs that we offer based on research into the job market demand for graduates in these areas.

Thompson Career College is accredited by the Private Career Training Institutions Agency (PCTIA) of British Columbia.

We are members of the BC Career Colleges Association (BCCCA). Our School Administrator is on the board of the BCCCA, and is also an active participant in the BCCCA Health Care Educators Committee.

But it gets better. Not only did TCC fly under the radar for 15 years while aggressively recruiting foreign nationals, but their programs allow students to “study from home” and not even attend a physical campus for instruction. Right from their brochure:

Oh, Canada. My, have we trained you so well.

Thompson Career College (821 Eglinton Avenue)

Thompson Career College (149 King Street)

Thompson Career College (1793 Dundas Street)

Thompson Career College (130 Dundas Street)

Thompson Career College (444 Victoria Street)

Thompson Career College (774 Victoria Street)

Amity University : New Jersey

Amity University : China

Amity University : Romania

Amity University : South Africa

Amity University : Abu Dhabi

Amity University : California

Amity University : Mauritius

Amity University : New York

Amity University : Singapore

Amity University : Dubai

Amity University : London

Amity Global Business Schools : Pune

Amity Global Business Schools : Patna

Amity Global Business Schools : Noida

Amity Global Business Schools : Mumbai (Malad)

Amity Global Business Schools : Kochi

Amity Global Business Schools : Indore

Amity Global Business Schools : Hyderabad

Amity Global Business Schools : Chennai

Amity Global Business Schools : Chandigarh

Amity Global Business Schools : Bhubaneswar

Amity Global Business Schools : Bangalore

Amity Global Business Schools : Ahmedabad

Amity University : Kolkata

Amity University : Gwalior

Amity University : Jaipur

Amity University : Gurgaon

Amity University : Lucknow

Upwork Sucks! #1 Freelance Site Is HORRIBLE

Author’s Note: the below article is written from the freelancer point of view rather than a business owner looking to hire freelancers. Whichever you are, hopefully my experience sheds light on both positive and negative aspects of online freelancing. Although my first year on Upwork left me feeling quite jaded, I still maintain an active profile where you are free to hire me for WordPress optimization work (until I get banned); better yet, check out LittleBizzy if lightning-fast WordPress hosting is your #1 objective.

Update 9/11/2015: Upwork.com has become so slow and buggy in recent weeks that today execs were forced to publicly admit they couldn’t figure out why, although they apparently blamed “abnormal traffic spikes” for the problems (which have been happening ever since the re-branding of Upwork Inc, according to many users). Naturally, they locked the forum thread so that nobody could post a reply… meanwhile, traffic to this blog post continues to surge as a result of overwhelming frustration.

Update 9/14/2015: You know its getting bad when freelancers are launching full-time Twitter accounts to expose all the problems with the Upwork website, from connection timeouts, to CloudFlare 522 errors, to a laundry list of feature bugs.

Update 9/21/2015: Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel continued to prove his unbelievable incompetence today when he emailed 10+ million freelancers, apologizing for website “slowness” during “September 7-10” (only) … despite the website still being inundated with programming bugs and poor performance, and despite these issues having existed for several months already (in fact, I now have Upwork leads emailing my company LittleBizzy because their “Slack-killer!” messaging system is down, yet again). I would actually feel sorry for Kasriel, except for the fact that he is a) dishonest and b) shows no loyalty to the top freelancers within the Upwork network…

Update 10/11/2015: Upwork has now removed the “5-star” rating system from freelancer profiles in favor of the so-called Job Success Score they announced earlier… I honestly think this might be a step in the right direction to combat clients taking freelancers “hostage” over stars, as it makes the feedback more low profile. Still, it really doesn’t matter when $2.84/hour is considered “Expert Level” work… outrageous.

Update 10/22/2015: Read how I was able to rank this article #1 on Google for “Upwork sucks” and then subsequently page #1 on Google for “Upwork” in just 5 weeks.

Update 10/25/2015: Yesterday I received yet ANOTHER warning from Upwork, stating: “Job application cancelled for a policy violation” issued to me by the Filipino freelancers that make up Upwork’s “support” team for “submitting the same job application multiple times on Upwork” which I did not, of course, do. After responding to them, “Seriously, are you Filipino freelancers blind?” I was issued yet ANOTHER warning “Account flagged for Policy Violation” for “making discriminatory or offensive remarks, threats, profanity, or vulgarity”… but after sending them the link to this article and thanking them for providing yet even more ridiculous content for this saga, they suddenly closed out the “warning” tickets! It is beyond clear at this point that Upwork is 100% over… it is now nothing more than a clusterf*ck of third world countries, with the investors and executives behind Upwork completely uninterested in turning the ship around.

Freelancing is the future — or so they keep telling us. For years, experts have been saying that upwards of 40% of Americans will be employed as freelancers by 2020 (although the clarification between “full-time” vs “part-time” freelancers seems oft-ignored).

The massive force behind this trend is, of course, the internet, along with its “easier” ways of hiring, firing, communicating, organizing, and sending money to people.

Enter Upwork, the largest freelance marketplace in the world, a result of the recent merge and 2015 re-branding of oDesk + eLance, previously the first and second most popular freelancing websites, respectively. The company has raised over $74 million in funding since being founded in 2005 — which, despite being notable, actually pales in comparison to the funding that most modern startups receive.

Which is why, ultimately, Upwork’s recent re-branding and constant CEO shuffle (eLance CEO Fabio Rosati took over as oDesk-eLance CEO in December 2013, a strange occurrence when it comes to buyouts; then Stephane Kasriel was named as yet another new CEO in April 2015), is so illustrative. When top executives keep abandoning ship and desperate, overreaching re-branding campaigns take place (despite overwhelmingly negative feedback), there is clearly something bigger going on.

But, let’s back up for just a minute.

My First Six Months With Upwork

For several years, I totally avoided freelancing websites. Despite wandering the globe through most of my 20s and being in desperate need of income half the time, I survived mostly from my own web projects and the various long-term clients and local opportunities I came across. I had always been under the impression that freelance sites were more of a place to hire “cheap” help from India, etc. a la Four Hour Work Week, rather than a place where I could offer any value or pick up decent clients of my own. This was an entirely narrow-minded view, although not a wholly unfounded one.

After becoming something of an expert in website loading speed, I decided to join oDesk in the fall of 2014 just for kicks after being partially re-inspired by a webinar uploaded by Wyatt Jozwowski. I charged my first client literally $1 for several hours of optimization work just to get my foot in the door, and in return received an amazingly positive review from him that helped open the floodgates to more and more oDesk clients. The experience largely influenced the re-launch of my managed WordPress hosting company, LittleBizzy, in the spring of 2015, at which point I put together a quick case study of my first 6 months on Upwork called SEO is dead that focused on the growing importance of loading speed, SSL (HTTPS), mobile support, and good old fashioned common business sense when it comes to finding success on the internet.

The amount of time I invested into Upwork during those first 6 months was absolutely insane in light of the unremarkable net profit I pulled in, although I fully expected (and was willing) to make sacrifices to get my profile juiced up nicely. But even when charging $33/hour – far above the average on Upwork – and picking up several long-term clients along the way, the numbers truly didn’t add up when considering the overall time, expense, stress, scheduling, and annoyance that Upwork caused me.

“Despite the fact that freelancers need to go through hell and high water to gain the highest verification level on UpWork, the persistent unskilled newbies from the Third World countries came flooding in on this site. Hopefully it will sort out the problem with the unskilled workforce overpopulation and UpWork will remain a harbor of safe labor and respect for skill, not cheapness. … The demographics of UpWork’s population are rather tilted towards the different sides of the planet – the most classic scheme one would find on UpWork is some USA or UK employer hiring a European or Eastern European freelancer.” — Idan Cohen

Still, by developing various tricks I was able to increase my profits and leverage various income streams into my business. At the 6 month point, the only justification I had to continue was that I had several long-term clients who were counting on me and who trusted me to pretty much bill when and what I thought was best (but even still, I could have easily brought all those clients away from the Upwork system – their idea, not mine!). With the launch of LittleBizzy, I had further incentive to develop new relationships across the web with successful business owners, so I bit the bullet and buckled down.

My Second Six Months With Upwork

At this point, I was (and still am) the #1 ranked WordPress expert on Upwork out of more than 10 million freelancers around the world (probably not accurate, but hey, I will take it, and thank you very much…); I am also #2 ranked for “Upwork Readiness” in the world and also rank among the top in skill tests such as English Spelling, English Grammar, and Search Engine Optimization. This, along with the fact that I now had over 50+ positive reviews on my profile and was also marked “Top Rated” in the Upwork system, helped me begin generating automatic inquires from new clients which definitely helped me save time looking up new job postings and sending in proposals; after all, clients who WANT you are the easiest to convert into paying accounts!

I did, however, eventually run into some problems after several months. Firstly, despite my rather quick mastery of the Upwork system (which I can hopefully throw together into a CollegeTimes eBook soon), I did actually end up refunding 2 clients on small projects who suddenly had huge temper tantrums. Rather than getting a negative review(s) left on my Upwork profile, I decided to maintain my 5.00 star ranking and otherwise perfect record by simply refunding these two clients, no questions asked.

Secondly, I began to notice that I was slowing down drastically as far as connecting with new clients. This was probably due largely in part to being busy with the long-term clients I had already acquired earlier, however, since one of my goals was to keep meeting new people (as part of my multi-prong business strategy), it did hurt my ability to achieve those goals simultaneously. Billable hours are wonderful, but at a certain point the “freelancing” (and constant emailing, helping, etc, at all hours) was hurting my ability to scale my hosting business, let alone remain organized with the various revenue streams and even non-business parts of my life that I wished to focus on. But as this was somewhat related to freelancing in general, I can’t fully blame Upwork for such issues.

However, last week (and the main inspiration for publishing this blog post) I ran into my biggest Upwork drama yet: a whack-job (“feminist”) client from Canada with a huge ego and absolutely no understanding of web technology decided to “report” me to Upwork for “purposefully deleting her website” after calling me a “sick” and “evil” “terrorist” from America; she was surprised because “weren’t all terrorists supposed to be from the Middle East!?” This nightmare was the result of me breaking one of my own rules: immediately cut off any client who replies to emails with short-phrase answers or who generally seems clueless about what they need. Long story short, this charade turned into a 100+ email exchange between me, the client, and her Indian developer (“the best WordPress developer she’d seen in 17 years”) who had hacked her WordPress template so badly it resulted in over 800+ queries executing on every page load, which continually crashed her MySQL database. Despite me offering her several hours of free explanations/advice, and even giving her a temporary “free” hosting plan upgrade so that she could see that more RAM would be necessary to handle her hacked template, she went ahead and filed an “hourly dispute” against me on Upwork.

The dispute, which seeks a refund for the randomly chosen amount of “4 hours of work” was filed on 22 August, 2015 (9 days ago from time of writing). Since that time, I have had all of my earned funds “frozen” on Upwork (bank transfers have been totally disabled on my account), I was unable to apply to new jobs or bill my current clients for existing contracts (10+ month old contracts) until just a few days ago, and have not received a reply from the Upwork team in over 4 days in regard to the resolution of this dispute, despite their TOS promising 48-hour resolutions to all hourly disputes (and despite me wasting several hours of time preparing all the evidence their Mediation team had requested to prove this client was, in fact, lying). When I contacted Upwork “support” yesterday for an update, I found myself chatting with a teenage freelancer from the Philippines literally working out of his bedroom, answering my legal questions!

Update 9/1/2015: This morning, 10 days after the dispute was filed, I finally re-gained access to my account and funds. I received a brief apology, despite an earlier warning (below) that further complaints would get me “permanently banned” from Upwork:

Hi Jesse, We are pleased to inform that your account has now been resumed. Please be reminded to adhere to all Upwork policies going forward. You can read more about our policies here: https://www.upwork.com/info/terms/ … Please note that if you violate this policy or any other Upwork policy again, your account will be permanently suspended. Please feel free to contact our Support Team if you need assistance. Thank you. Regards, Eu M. Upwork Trust & Safety

In any case, despite tons of wasted time and constantly struggling to distinguish myself among an ocean of extremely ignorant, incompetent, and unbelievably “cheap” people on both the freelancer and client sides of Upwork, I did end up connecting with dozens of talented, professional, and inspiring people (who I hope to know for many years). As of today, I have not necessarily become anti-freelance sites, but have rather concluded that without a drastically new approach (or specializing the playing field), highly-skilled people will continue to shy away from dominant freelancing markets.

The Never-Ending PR Struggle of Upwork

In late 2012, Reddit CEO Yishan Wong posted on Quora (now famously) that hiring people from the likes of oDesk or eLance is a bad idea, because “end products” never turn out more than “merely okay” or usually “failure” – directly insulting the dozens of remote workers that the company employed at the time:

“You shouldn’t do this; it will probably result in failure. I have a friend who is a designer (so, closer to technology and implementation than a business person; about as close as you can be without being outright technical yourself), and he was hiring developers via eLance. Even with consultation from friends of his (e.g. me) who were real engineers, it was extremely difficult to find decent engineers who could do the things he needed, deliver reliably, and iterate according to ongoing testing/customer feedback. The end product was merely “okay” – kind of slow, with little glitches here and there. If you have total technical ignorance and no local (friend) resources to help you, hiring from eLance or oDesk is almost impossible to do correctly. I would recommend trying another route.” — Reddit CEO Yishan Wong

Just months later, Reddit raised another $50 million in venture funding and Wong decided to immediately force all remote workers to either move to San Francisco, or be fired (initially, Wong gave them less than a few weeks to decide).

Now, I’ve never been a fan of Reddit (a post for another day), but when the CEO of one of the web’s largest social platforms makes such controversial comments, people listen. And, while I understand the premise of Wong’s view (or other similar views), his opinion is simply wrong. There are a vast amount of seriously talented freelancers on websites like Upwork; the problem is NOT the freelancers, its the way that websites like Upwork function (or perhaps, the way that amateurs like Wong manage their remote team).

Eventually, Wong left Reddit (in late 2014) after disagreements over – you guessed it – office and staff expansion in San Francisco. But the biggest hilarity of all was when Upwork CEO Stephane Kasriel tried to capitalize off the story to attract these cream-of-the-crop freelancers into the sh*tty world of Upwork. But there’s a reason why Upwork is so desperate for cheeky attention in the face of round after round of lackluster fundraising, and its something that even Redditors seem to understand.

See also: Time Tracking Apps: Software That Every Freelancer And Modern Project Management Team Should Have

An Inherently Flawed Business Model

Companies like Automattic (the owners of WordPress software) have used remote-work teams for several years with amazing success; the error that dumbasses like Yishan Wong often make is equating freelancing with Upwork, or Upwork with freelancing.

I have no shame in being a “freelancer” — that being said, I indeed felt like a bit of a loser “competing” with millions of Third World “freelancers” on Upwork with poor English skills, questionable ability, and hourly rates that make working at the LAX McDonald’s look like a dream job (unlike “freelance” attorneys or accountants, the vast world of web development has no mandatory “bar” to pass).

But Upwork wasn’t always like this; indeed, I can remember the early days of oDesk when they tried to market themselves to corporate teams and project management, before it all caved in and became IndiaDesk — the problem was that their digital marketing strategy chose to prioritize “biggest” over being the “best” or the “only.”

Here’s an (ongoing) list of negative things I encountered over this past year, which in total made Upwork a barely-worthwhile resource for me:

Any half-decent MBA graduate should be able to explain what is going on behind the scenes of Upwork and its ever-shaky reputation among investors: Upwork is ultimately nothing more than an easily-replicated attempt to capitalize off a growing economic trend without adding any real value to the process of freelancing, or any real incentive for freelancers to stick around after acquiring a handful of client leads. In other words, Upwork is neither a necessary tool for people to begin freelancing, nor do they provide any reason for freelancers to retain Upwork as a “tool” of the trade after their client base grows up. At the end of the day, the only thing that websites like Upwork really provide is a wildly unpredictable stream of client “leads” to a wildly unpredictable market of freelancers – and a whole lot of guaranteed time wasting.

“If you want great clients who are willing to pay well for your time you need to specialize and solve real business problems. If you’re just ‘building WordPress themes’ then you are in competition with oDesk and you’ll continue to be in competition till you change your business model.” — Curtis Mchale

Upwork Is A Massive Conflict Of Interest

But that’s just the thing: Upwork’s investor-backed goals are not concerned with quality, they are concerned with concepts like “market penetration” and vanity metrics such as the following: “As of May 2014, Upwork reported $1B in annual billings, 10 million freelancers and 4 million clients worldwide.” Any good investor knows that cash flow means nothing apart from net income growth and sign-ups mean nothing without a strong retention rate: The typical Upwork client either grows quickly frustrated re: poor quality freelancers and wasted time shopping around, and the typical Upwork freelancer grows quickly frustrated re: poor quality clients and wasted time sending proposals. It is a constant, vicious cycle of poor quality, wasted time from doing menial tasks (the very thing that these users were trying to get away from doing), and perhaps, ocassionally connecting with a few good quality people in which case they quickly take their business relationship off of Upwork to save on costs and save on time (and annoyance).

The company’s desperate, cheeky PR moves don’t help. Earlier this year, Upwork was quick to make an inflated job offer to Nina Mufleh, the girl whose online resume aimed at AirBnB went viral around Silicon Valley and beyond. Are Upwork execs really that clueless when it comes to what their website needs to improve, or do they simply prefer the worthless soundbites they achieve with stupid PR stunts?

Upwork is, no doubt, the largest freelance marketplace — but like WalMart, it’s a marketplace for the cheap-ass ignorant wannabes of the world, or anyone else too lazy to walk across the street to Trader Joes — let alone cook dinner at home.

Neumont U. Fires Edward ‘Nasty Ned’ Levine

Update 8/30/2015: Acquisition reports remain unconfirmed. We are now being told by some sources that Neumont was in fact acquired by Caltius Capital Management out of Los Angeles, California, despite Neumont not being mentioned on their Portfolio page. Emails sent by CollegeTimes to Caltius have not been returned.

Update 9/13/2015: Caltius Capital has refused to reply to CollegeTimes, and still no public confirmation of who now owns Neumont. In the meanwhile, every single one of their Utah corporations has expired, besides Neumont University LLC, which was last renewed on August 5, 2015 (although managing members are not publicly listed).

Update 4/16/2016: Edward ‘Ned’ Levine appears to be desperately trying to rebuild his image, recently registering the domain edward-ned-levine.com in an apparent attempt to outrank this article for Google searches of his reputation. Despite reports from Neumont University’s own press release that he was “retiring” in order to focus on “land conservation” efforts, he has now launched a new “growth advisory” company called Firebrand Advisors (firebrandadvisors.com), according to his public LinkedIn profile. Remember, this was the guy who called me a “would-be SEO expert” while attempting to slander my name, and whose book on internet marketing was a complete failure (“Deep Branding on the Internet: Applying Heat and Pressure Online to Ensure a Lasting Brand”). His book, co-written with fellow-Jew Marc Braunstein, has only 11 reviews on Amazon.com, most of which seem to have come from Levine’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island during the year 2000…

Update 4/26/2016: ‘Nasty Ned’ Levine is now employing the same tactics that he did previously on behalf of Neumont University; he successfully pressured Scribd to “noindex” the public PDF we published that reveals his getting fired by Neumont (a press release document that Neumont released to the public). He’s also possibly leaving comments on this article itself under an alias, as he did on our Neumont University profile, attacking me personally, a bully tactic he also used against various Neumont students such as Jason Aquino and faculty such as Jeme Deviny, who was harassed for being disabled. Apparently the guy hasn’t learned much…

==

There truly is sweet justice in the world every once in a while (or, kind of…).

Yesterday, for-profit Neumont University announced in a quiet Facebook post that a new CEO would be taking over their flagship campus in Salt Lake City, Utah, replacing Edward “Ned” Levine after he spent more than 8 years at the helm:

Meet Shaun McAlmont. He is Neumont University’s new president. Shaun joins us after serving as CEO of Lincoln Education Services, a multi-campus educational institution headquartered in New Jersey offering a range of academic and certificate programs. He’s carefully made the decision to join a university like Neumont, where he can work directly with students, staff, and faculty, like he did early in his career as a director of student affairs at Stanford University. He’s thrilled to return to Utah where he lived during his college years as an NCAA athlete at Brigham Young University.

According to Neumont insiders, the change is due to the school’s (sudden) new owner, (Lincoln Education Services?), dumping Levine as part of its recent takeover. The news comes just weeks after Neumont’s “disparagement” lawsuit against CollegeTimes was officially thrown out after nearly 2 years of proceedings.

A source tells us, “Rumor from the ‘Nasty Ned’ haters is that new investors bought Neumont and told Ned to hit the road. Ned and his significant other, Isabella Porter, are both out of jobs. Ned is old enough to retire, but not Isabella.”

Although an AP wire story last week briefly mentioned the Levine transition, there has been no public confirmation of new investors or ownership of the Neumont campus, which has been controlled by Great Hill Partners for most of its (short) existence.

However, at the time of writing, Great Hill appears to have removed Neumont from their investment portfolio page, and Matt Vettel, a managing partner at Great Hill, appears to have updated his public LinkedIn profile to remove his active position on Neumont’s board of directors, all lending credibility to buyout rumors.

Years Of Hostility, Harassment, Threats

Levine, who previously worked at for-profit Johnson and Wales University after various business ventures in Rhode Island, had been both president and CEO of Neumont University since 2007. During his tenure, students accused him via CollegeTimes of fraud, harassment, lawsuit threats, and making “drunk” phone calls to their families.

A 2014 CollegeTimes interview with Jeme Deviny, the former Financial Director at Neumont, was even more telling. Deviny accused Levine of near-daily workplace harassment of various staff members, especially those with “disabilities” or whom Levine felt were too “old” or “overweight” to keep Neumont’s image “youthful and vibrant.” Deviny also revealed that Levine had chosen to fire one employee, Kristi Robertson, just weeks after her husband died of cancer, causing her to become deeply depressed. Some days later, Robertson fell into a diabetic coma, and died shortly thereafter.

Among other events, Levine got Neumont banned from Wikipedia for years of spamming, worked with the Salt Lake Tribune to spread disinformation, stalked and spied on CollegeTimes along with top ranking members of the LDS (Mormon) Church, hired faculty who lacked a college degree, and even successfully convinced another for-profit college to threaten us as well. CollegeTimes has tracked the misdeeds of Neumont for several years, even connecting Harry Reid and Mormonism to the lawsuit Neumont filed against our web host in federal court (which was thrown out a few months ago). Levine even posted a pseudo-press release to Neumont’s website slandering me personally so that it would show up in Google results, which is still live over 2 years later.

Ironically, it appears Levine has gotten a taste of his own medicine, now being shamelessly dumped by Neumont’s new owners (although he doesn’t seem ready to remove the CEO position from his LinkedIn profile yet).

Another Buyout, Another LDS Connection

Shaun E. McAlmont, the former CEO of Lincoln Education Services, has been named (apparently by himself?) as Neumont’s new campus president. Notably, he does not seem to retain a “CEO” title, which has apparently been discontinued by the school’s new investors. A Google search of McAlmont finds his name mentioned across several spam blogs advertising for-profit diploma mill programs, which interestingly appear to have been deleted as recently as a few days ago.

In rather poor English, McAlmont described himself on his homepage:

Shaun attended Brigham Young University on a full athletic scholarship. He is one of a small population of minority students to successfully graduate from the predominantly Mormon University. … He has previously served on the Board of Directors for the California Association of Private Post-Secondary Schools and the Briarwood College Board of Trustees. Advocating for Private Sector Vocational and Technical Education.

…which again, has recently been deleted in place of a more formal description of himself along with photos of McAlmont alongside former U.S presidents.

It all begs the question of how the LDS Church (Brigham Young University) once again finds itself at the center of a major Neumont transition despite years of Neumont denying any connection to Mormonism or any LDS organizations. (Levine himself is reportedly Jewish, but seemed to regularly find conspicuously positive coverage from the likes of Deseret News, a major LDS-owned newspaper based in Salt Lake City, among other noted LDS connections. Perhaps tell-tale that the News nor even Salt Lake Tribune have offered any coverage whatsoever of the latest Neumont developments.)

Anyway, Ned — enjoy your “long-term interest in land conservation”… lmao.

University Of Georgia (Tbilisi)

TeachingCenter: ‘Key & Peele’ Video Spoof Of ESPN’s SportsCenter Show Is Hilarious, Thought-Provoking

Sometimes, satire is the only good way to make a point.

In this example – when whacking at balls and sticks earns you millions of dollars a year, while teaching and inspiring (in theory, anyway) young minds barely breaks $40,000 average salary across the United States – to parody the most watched sports show in America is a pretty effective way to show just how ridiculous, perhaps, our country’s obsession with athletics vs. mental substance has become.

The below video, which was produced by Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, spares no detail in fully replicating the flashy graphics of ESPN’s SportsCenter show in an effort to poke fun at the decidedly serious nature of sports news in America.

“For the first pick, Central Rapids High takes… calculus teacher Mike Yoast from Tulsa Teachers College,” one segment of the video reports, emulating a professional sports draft round. “And just like that, you’re a millionaire. Ha ha,” chuckles the announcer, “Mike Yoast is an unbelievable story, his father living from paycheck to paycheck as a humble pro football player. Kid was a natural mathlete.”

Other hilarious bits in the video include a BMW-sponsored teacher profile, who races around town in a BMW while eating an apple, and a breaking news story that a “teacher’s strike” is threatening to upend the “season.”

Serious Questions Over Salary, Taxes

Now, I’m not a blind supporter of teachers or their unions by any means. Like many other professions, there are plenty of lazy, greedy, incompetent, or abusive instructors out there, and teachers unions only seem to exacerbate bad habits. That being said, it is interesting that those assigned to nurture our children and prepare the future American workforce are rather, well, under-valued, compared to some developed nations, not to mention that several other countries (i.e. China, Turkey, Egypt) maintain much higher cultural respect for the teaching profession than the US.

But here’s the difference: while professional athletes are indeed offered insanely lucrative contracts, those contracts are 100% dependent on performance – both past, and future – in contrast with teaching, where pretty much anyone with a degree can get a teaching job (along with the benefits, holidays, and union protection that comes with it).

The satire video has already inspired renewed calls from liberals/leftists for higher teacher salaries in the US – it begs the question, then, why such activists are not more open to teacher performance reviews and things like charter schools, which allow “rich” donors to support the school while students benefit from free education. From the sidelines, it would seem that these union-obsessed anti-reform activists want to have their cake and eat it too, all at the expense of the American taxpayer.

Back before professional sports were such an obsession – and when schools in America were usually private – sponsoring schools with large donations was a very common thing among wealthy philanthropists. While this trend still exists for prestigious universities, private primary and secondary schools are rapidly dying out in the US, making things like teacher salary largely a governmental (and therefore tax-dependent) issue. Therefore, rather than simply chastising the sports industry (etc), perhaps the education sector in America could learn a thing or two from them.

Author’s Note: Pro sports teams are often much less profitable than people realize, as team ownership (and player salaries) have become mostly a vanity metric. For precisely that reason, perhaps team owners can stop accepting tax subsidies for their sports stadiums, and return some of that tax money to schools, instead.

Department Of Education Report Cancels Student Aid, Confirms Foul Play At Webster University Campus

As was expected by several Webster University : London students earlier this year, a report released by the U.S. Department of Education in June 2015 confirmed that all federal student aid has been indefinitely suspended to that campus due to a long history of foul play on the part of Webster University : St. Louis (parent campus).

Update 7/3/2015: Webster’s student-run newspaper, The Journal, has once again copied our story (and Scribd docs) without crediting CollegeTimes, continuing to function in more of a manipulative PR role than a voice for students. The Journal and St. Louis-based Post-Dispatch both published peculiarly favorable coverage of our March 2015 exclusive investigation into fraud and corruption at Webster’s Thailand campus as well.

The report, although dated January 15, 2015, was released just a few weeks ago on the DOE’s Student Aid website under the rather inexpressive title “Final Program Review Determination.” The public report – prepared by the DOE’s Student Participation Division based in Kansas City, Missouri – was published as the result of an apparent “off-site program review at (Webster) the week of August 6, 2014” carried out by DOE representatives Bridget Johnston and Jenny Armontrout:

The focus of the review was Webster’s compliance with federal requirements, specifically in regards to its arrangements and agreements with foreign institutions that are not Title IV _eligible. The review Consisted of an examination of Webster’s agreements with foreign institutions that are not Title IV eligible, and disbursement records for students who enrolled in programs provided by the ineligible institutions. A program review report was issued September 11, 2014.

The report’s publication comes on the heels of exclusive CollegeTimes investigations into massive fraud and corruption being carried out at Webster campuses in Thailand and London that received widespread attention across the web.

Flagrant Disregard For Federal Guidelines

Citing U.S. federal guidelines on student aid disbursement, the DOE report’s key (single) finding is that Webster’s campus in London was – and in fact, always has been – ineligible for U.S. student aid due to its illegal arrangement with Regent’s University London:

Citation Summary: A Program Participation Agreement (PPA) conditions the initial andcontinued participation in of an eligible institution in any Title IV, HEA program upon compliance with the provisions of regulations set forth in 34 C.F.R Part 668, the individual program regulations, and any additional conditions specified in the PPA that the Secretaryrequires the institution to meet. 34 C.F.R § 668.14(a)

Noncompliance Summary: The Department obtained a signed copy of an agreement Webster entered into in 2012 with Regent ’s University (Regent ’s), an institution headquartered in theUK, to administer educational programs at the Regent ‘s campus in London. At the time,Regent’s had no authority from the Department to receive or disburse Title IV, HEA program funds. Regent’s had not been determined to be an eligible institution, has not signed a Program Participation Agreement with the Department and has not obligated itself to act as a fiduciarywith respect to its receipt or disposition of federal funds. After reviewing the agreement with Regent ‘s, the Department determined that the programs offered by Regent’s on behalf of Webster were ineligible programs because the Agreement violated the Department’s rules under 34 CFR. §668.5(c) regarding written arrangements with ineligible institutions. As a result of this violation, Webster had permitted an ineligible institution to improperly receive Title IV, HEA program funds and provide a program to Title IV recipients

Interestingly, the report confirms that the DOE notified Webster in writing on July 18, 2014 “to immediately cease from awarding any Title IV, HEA program funds to students enrolled in programs administered through the Agreement with Regent’s [University London].” Such a timeline supports controversial claims by Webster London students who claim they were the victims of fraud during the Fall 2014 recruitment period, alleging that Webster purposefully hid the fact that all federal aid had been canceled as they continued to recruit dozens of new students to the London campus.

Let Off With Just A Slap On The Wrist?

To make matters worse, the DOE found that Webster was committing the same fraud at their campuses in China, but apparently chose not to cite them for it:

During the review, the Department was also informed that Webster has entered into agreements with Chinese institutions that implicate the same issue as the Agreement with Regent’s, although responsibilities attendant to Title IV, HEA program funding do not appear to be referenced in these contracts. Required Action Summary: Webster was directed to demonstrate that it put in place controls to ensure that no Webster students enrolled in programs administered through the agreements with Chinese institutions receive Title IV, HEA program funding.

In addition, despite the report acknowledging that Webster’s illegal relationship with Regent’s had been in existence since 1994, with the contract being renewed both in 2006 and again in 2012, the DOE team apparently decided to only hold Webster accountable for student aid funds disbursed post-2012 for unspecified reasons (the report’s wording is so vague, in fact, that an exact timeline is hard to distinguish).

Not only so, but the DOE team apparently took at face value Webster’s claim of applying only $87,869.00 in Pell Grants and $2,345,821.00 in Direct Loan funds to their London campus post-2012. Final “penalties” as assessed by the DOE are below:

TOTAL: a mere $95,464.00 (due “within 45 days” by mailed check)

The Regent’s campus has been aggressively trying to achieve its own Title IV recognition by the U.S. Department of Education in order to accept more American study-abroad students, which it recently was able to accomplish with the notable exception of the American College section it runs alongside Webster University. The two schools announced earlier in 2015 that they would be severing their relationship, and that the Webster-Regents program would be cancelled before the end of 2016.

Author’s Note: Webster University appears to have successfully siphoned millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer money into their pockets by committing over 20+ years of fraud at their London campus. Ultimately, it would seem this case once again proves that it’s definitely “worth it” for American colleges (both non-profit and for-profit) to commit fraud; from a business standpoint, the risk of legitimate consequences is so minute and the U.S. DOE and DOJ appear so unwilling to get involved that rampant fraud and corruption rages forward across the landscape of American higher education.

Harvard Law Professor Larry Lessig Makes 15-Minute Case That U.S. Is Nowhere Near A True Democracy

American democracy. The oft-repeated phrase rolls off the tongue perhaps a little too easily, according to at least one American academic.

Lawrence Lessig, a renowned professor at Harvard University‘s Law School, tackled the issue at an event sponsored last November (2014) by Quartz, an online magazine operated by The Atlantic family of publications. In the last few weeks, Lessig’s comments have begun circulating again on social media, in which he argues that the United States is no more democratic than say, Hong Kong, or even Iran, because of the way that U.S. elections campaigns are currently controlled by ‘early-stage’ funders.

The ‘Funding’ Influence Of The 0.2%

Most political science students have probably heard the argument before: America is not actually a democracy, but rather, a republic. While the “republic” argument is often referenced by socially conservative or libertarian Americans, Lessig’s argument seems to go even farther, arguing that even according to historical American political processes, modern presidential campaigns in the U.S. have now been corrupted to the point of representing only a small sliver of wealthy ‘donor’ elites.

About ten minutes into the below video, Lessig cites a Cambridge University study published in September 2014 which found that U.S. public policy is very responsive to the shifting views of elites, but not to average Americans:

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

After Lessig made his case, he briefly spoke with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

Lessig, who is also a political activist, has fought for campaign reform in the U.S. for several years, and has also been a key member of organizations such as Creative Commons and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was also a professor at Stanford University’s Law School, and has been involved in several notable legal cases.

Hoverboard World Record: Canadian Inventor Displays Homemade Hoverboard Flight In Unbelievable Video

To be sure, this is not an April Fool’s Day stunt. (In fact, the below video was filmed and published by Guinness World Records themselves, so you can take comfort in knowing that you aren’t being pranked this time around.)

An inventor from Canada has set a new world record for “farthest journey by hoverboard” when he glided 275.9 meters (905 ft 2 in) over water a few months back, confirmed just this week by Guinness World Records. The inventor, Catalin Alexandru Duru, originally performed the feat at Lake Ouareau in Quebec, Canada on 25 August 2014, however the act was not mentioned by Guinness until a few days ago. The event has already lead some to wonder if the next extreme sport could be on the horizon.

Back To The Future – In Real Life?

Duru, understandably proud of his work yet seemingly cautious in discussing his self-created hoverboard technology, commented via YouTube:

“The first real-life hoverboard. The machine was built and designed by me, Catalin Alexandru Duru. I am the first man to create and fly a working prototype. I will showcase that stable flight can be achieved with a machine one can stand on and control with their feet, just like in the movie ‘Back to the Future Part II’. In our case, the machine is propeller-based. The prototype can be used anywhere, but is usually tested over water because of how dangerously high it can fly (which is ironic considering that the movie joked that it can’t).” – Catalin Alexandru Duru

Hoverboards, first popularized by the Back To The Future movie franchise in the 1980s, have been surrounded by rumors, conspiracies, and ill-fated attempts at replication ever since the movies first came out. Both fans of the films and researchers alike have debated the possibility of the “craft” for decades, with various types of technologies being mentioned including fans, propellers, magnets, gases, and beyond. Of course, the timely invention by Duru holds additional significance as October 21, 2015 was the date chosen by the BTTF movies as the “day of the future” from which to travel backwards in time, resulting in various web pages and other fanfare.

Duru said it took him a year to finalize his current hoverboard prototype. Many have compared the strange-looking machine to an octocopter drone often used by hobbyists to capture aerial video footage with GoPro cameras.

Langara College : West Broadway Centre

Cost Obsessions Map: From Prostitutes To Nose Jobs, The Most Researched Purchases Online By Country

“How much does ___ cost?” is an apparently very interesting lens through which to judge countries – or more specifically, the obsessions of their (would-be) residents.

From “prostitutes” in Thailand, to “kidneys” in Iran, and even “slaves” in Mauritania, a new report published by Fixr.com compiles the most popular auto-completed searches on Google in relation to every country around the world.

Using a simple Google search query, formatted as “how much does * cost in COUNTRY” the results were simply replicated and then collected into a spreadsheet.

An Honest Look Into Human Obsessions

Fixr, which is a cost-estimating website for home repair and remodeling, initially released a look into similar data for U.S. states only. After becoming “intrigued” by the results, the team says they “decided to see what the worldwide results” looked like:

It turns out that Google searches for the cost of something vary widely depending on the country of interest. For example, people are most interested in the cost of a passport or a patent in North America. As for Europe, many are concerned about practical things like the cost of living, studying, or buying a beer. Google users are interested in basic necessities such as food, livestock, and fuel in Africa. But if you look closely, you will find some more controversial search results, such as prostitution in Brazil, Ukraine, Hong Kong, and Latvia; slaves in Mauritania; a kidney in Iran; in vitro fertilization in Australia; and rhinoplasty in Korea.

The results are indeed both intriguing and often hilarious. “Prostitutes” were an obsession for multiple countries including Brazil, Uruguay, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Hong Kong, Colombia, Latvia, and Thailand. “Beer” was a focus of several countries (esp. in Europe), while “camels” and “cows” were a stand-out in North Africa and Near East states.

In South/Central America, common research included “funerals”, “coke” (undetermined which type), and “cost of living” while “Bic Macs” (Serbia), “divorces” (Trinidad and Tobago), and “honeymoons” (Maldives) took the cake in other places.

Perhaps one of the most bizarre findings in the report was that “vasectomies” was a top Google search regarding New Zealand, while “in vitro fertilization” was a rather contradictory winner for nearby Australia. In Russia, the cost of “flying a MIG” [fighter jet] was a similarly surprising find. The team ultimately concluded:

Looking at some of the most popular Google searches throughout the World reveals some cultural differences, but also many key similarities. It also provides insights into the sometimes-strange things people think about when they are alone.

Disclaimer: the report’s findings should not be considered scientific.

‘Antarctica’ Drone Documentary: Breathtaking Scenes Of Blue Ice, Whales Filmed Completely with GoPros

In the latest “drone-umentary” to capture a wide audience of fans online, a bird’s eye view of what appears to be a mother blue whale and her calf along with stunning views of blue ice can be seen captured in various spots of Antarctica.

Swedish filmaker Kalle Ljung explained the film briefly on Vimeo:

This movie was shot during our 20 days trip to Antarctica in December 2014 to January 2015. We started from Ushuaia in Argentina and went to Port Williams in Chile, rounded Cape Horn and crossed the Drake Passage towards the Melchior Islands in Antarctica.

We spent 16 days in the Antarctic and got to experience the most amazing scenery and wildlife before we returned back to Ushuaia.

The entire video was apparently recorded using a DJI Phantom 2 quadricopter (drone) and a GoPro HERO3 camera, and includes shots of the crew’s sailboat, a team member standing on an iceberg, and other picturesque views of frigid Antarctic landscapes.

Although the trip took place from December 2014 to January 2015, the video was published to Vimeo in April 2015 where it has received an enthusiastic response from other users. Ljung edited the film using Final Cut Pro X.

The Melchior Islands are “a group of many low, ice-covered islands lying near the center of Dallmann Bay in the Palmer Archipelago, Antarctica” according to Wikipedia, and were named by French explorers after Vice Admiral Jules Melchior of the French Navy.

California International University : Los Angeles

Studying in London, Homeless: How My Dreams Were Robbed By 3 Rogue Universities (By Mehran Karim)

Below is a guest post submitted by Mehran Karim, an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in “international business management” at Webster University : London a.k.a. Regent’s American College London which is located at the Regents University London campus. (Karim is one of several dozen students who formerly attended American Intercontinental University : London before its sudden acquisition by Regent’s in 2013.) After our months-long investigation into Webster University : Thailand received massive traffic from around the world, Karim brought our attention to a Change.org petition he had launched for Webster University London in reaction to dozens of American students being abruptly cut off from their U.S. federal student aid (in clear violation of FAFSA guidelines). This in turn lead to our Kate Welenc interview, and now we follow up again with Karim with this guest post. PHOTO: Mehran Karim poses with Nobel Peace Prize winner Yunus Mohammed during a social entrepreneurship event in London. “As of now I am working on a social business start-up on the side, with the hopes of beginning a new wave in this up-and-coming field of business,” says Karim.

It was October 2012, my brother Imran and I were thinking of a way to capture our dream of going professional in football, while continuing our education for “safety”. We learned of a great opportunity to study at American Intercontinental University London for not just a single degree but a dual degree (American and British accreditation) and all at about the same time and cost as most other universities. We left our family, our friends, nice jobs, and our home university for an expensive opportunity abroad in London. My father agreed to take out parent plus loans for us in order to cover the high costs of our studies. We were ever grateful of the opportunity and the prospect of studying in such a beautiful city while chasing after our dream of professional football; the tedious work of getting our passports, applying for visas and finding the best priced flight tickets was just a breeze, and before we knew it we had landed in London early in the morning on January 10th 2013. It was a cold and grey introduction to the beautiful city. That same morning, after dropping off our bags at our flat, we headed straight to our university and everything seemed great; great people, nice teachers, and the opportunity for many new friends to be made. We also couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling with football and begin playing with stiff competition for the chance to be seen by a scout for a professional team.

This exciting start was quickly overturned within two months time; the news had come out that our university had been sold to Regents University London. The contracts we had signed with AIUL had been broken without any notice to us students. The malpractice had begun and the rogue universities seemed to think nothing of it. This experience has spiraled out of control in many ways since that day, stemming from malpractices by three universities; American Intercontinental University London (CEC Corporation), Regents University London, and Webster University.

Breakdown of everything that’s happened since that day:

Phase 1: Breaking of our contract – American Intercontinental University London acquisition by Regents University London

Within two months of our studies we were told that our University had been bought by Regents University London. Prior to this we had no understanding of the situation; when signing up to AIUL we had not been told of an ongoing acquisition procedure. We had signed a contract with AIUL to study for four years and a certain number of credit hours; this was broken with no consideration for the students. My brother and I decided to stay in AIUL for another year under their teach-out program before officially transferring to Regents. As expected from the universities, students remained complacent and did not mind the acquisition due to the promises made by both universities (usually by word of mouth); prices would not go up, dual degree would be continued, credits would also be accepted. All of these promises came with some twists; the prices would go up by 4% yearly for inflation adjustment (although inflation is not at this rate), dual degrees would be given only to the Regents American College London students (excluding all students that required government aid and were not Americans, as only American federal aid was processed and no other forms of government aid was accessible), and core classes would not necessarily transfer as core classes which has made it so that some students like myself have to study beyond the credit requirements to receive their degrees (and in turn [this would cost] them more for the degree).

Phase 2: Summer 2014 FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) issues

When summer 2014 came we officially transferred and began our summer courses at Regents. It initially seemed fine and looked like everything was going to be okay because we were told that the finances would be taken care of as normal and FAFSA would be accepted (as told to us by our AIUL financial advisor who now works for Regents). The expectation of a dual degree was also “intact”. We finished up our FAFSA application, went through a lengthy process of extra paper work for Webster, which was filled with varying levels of miscommunication. We never had this experience with applying for financial aid under AIUL and the new expectations for receiving financial aid were never made clear to us in the beginning. The new expectations were understandable, just horribly communicated. Finally after a month of our summer term finishing we received our loans and it showed up in our NSLDS (National Student Loan Data System). But even then they wouldn’t release the loan, putting our relationship with our landlord on the brink. This eventually led to our eviction, although the payment was made to the landlord.

Eviction and homelessness

The eviction was a clear fault of the school and indicated the lack of administrative abilities. The original eviction notice was given to our finance director, who chose to ignore it and keep us uninformed. Two weeks into the eviction we were informed merely by coincidence after running into an employee who told us that we had to leave in a couple of weeks. Being that it was almost the start of a new school year, finding flats with the correct terms in London was very complicated and we needed all the time we could get; two weeks in a place like London is not enough time. We went homeless for nearly 48 hours and were severely stressed with a total loss of trust in the schooling system. The difficult search was not completed until the day school started. On the day of school we decided to accept the terms for a flat that did not meet basic needs. The flat lacked essential amenities and had mold everywhere with no ventilation. This damaged our health and mental wellness, but it was the best we could afford given the circumstances the school had put us in.

Phase 3: Return of all U.S. federal loans

When we thought everything was finally under control and that we could continue studying and have a fairly normal student experience, we were hit with a letter from the president of Webster, Beth Stroble, and the vice chancellor of Regents, Aldwyn Cooper:

“…the U.S. Department of Education has made a decision that may affect the way in which you receive your financial support… The amount of funds you receive will be unchanged; it will now just come from a different source… Due to a request made by the American Department of Education we are making an administrative change to the nature of funding support for those of our American students who have been in receipt of, or have applied for U.S. financial aid to study on the Webster University US degree programs at Regent`s [Regents American College London]. Funds are being made available to ensure that your education and student experience remain unaffected. We expect it will take few months to implement the new processes and to embed those processes.”

The loans which had been “processed” for our studies had now been reversed and the slow process of pushing for a bare minimum amount of [any type of] funding from Regents and Webster began. We never received the amount of funding we should normally have; in fact the amount never accrued to what was legally required for our visas and is still not meeting this requirement.

November 2014: Told that we could apply for FAFSA under Regents

All students were told to apply for loans as we normally would through FAFSA, except it would now be done with Regents as the school we use. This of course did not work out and we were told of it failing just before the start of our spring term, giving all of us students the false hope [again] of everything being fine. Had my brother and I known that the school would not be able to process federal loans, we would have used our comfortable [winter 2014] vacation time to progress the fight for our rights; however, that free time was strategically taken from us, thus disabling our capacity for holding the school responsible for their wrongdoings.

Phase 4: “Apply for private loans or transfer campuses”

Nearing the end of our spring term, many students were told to transfer campuses or alternatively apply for private loans. Private loans are complicated and are rarely favorable compared to federal loans. Transferring campuses meant that we could not receive our dual degrees. Due to our mother not working and our father not having any income from personal complications, my brother and I are not even eligible for private loans.

Webster University’s offer

The school has offered [in April 2015] all students the equivalent of their eligibility for Federal Stafford Loans and Pell Grants as a loan. Thus in our case making it so the original $5775 we would receive as grants to be turned into a loan by the school. This loan is without interest and the school did make clear that it would not be considered a loan and is only a “balance due on your Webster University student account”. Even still this credit amount does not come close to covering our costs of studying and completely disregards the original communications made to us about how our experience, studies and funding amounts would not be affected.

Phase 5: Legally Homeless

I am currently legally homeless in a foreign country. I sent the school an email stating this and they have not yet replied and don’t seem to care much. The school is giving me no option but to give up and leave to another university. With that I would lose everything I have put into my education. I would lose the time I have put in, I would lose the money I have put in, and foremost and finally I would lose access to my dual degree.

Personal note

Nelson Mandela once said “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. I personally understand that my future professional opportunities would not be severely affected by this situation if I opted to not receive the “dual” degree and transferred campuses – but the fight against the school is on the grounds of principles. Our right to a fair and just education is important and it is the one thing that we, as Americans and British alike, cannot allow to wither. It is our only chance at keeping our place in this hyper-globalized world. The “student culture” is getting weaker every decade and education is not given enough appreciation.

I want to stand up against this rogue university and make a point to all students that our right to a fair and just education should never be tampered with. Students must understand that they are the ones in control and no university can toss them around as they please. A university should never be allowed to continue in such a manner. Webster and Regents should have known they were breaking regulations by operating in the manner they were. They have jeopardized our education and must be held responsible, not only for my benefit or the students currently affected but for the benefit of students in the future and for benefit of our student culture. Students must wake up and understand that they are the future of our world and the ones in control. If we as students cannot stand up to the wrongdoings of our universities and hold them responsible for any wrongful acts, how could we ever hope to stand up to our governments and hold them responsible for any wrongful acts? And as we are entering this newly hyper-globalized world, the current generation of students will have to stand up against entities larger and stronger than our current governments. Giving up is not a choice.

Thank you for your time and please give light to this issue.

Mehranullah Karimullah (Full name)
Mehran Karim (Preferred name)

GTA ‘Drone’ Fan Film: Grand Theft Auto Fans Re-Create Early Version Of Game Using Drone For Aerial Views

Grand Theft Auto is one of the highest grossing and most successful video games ever created on any platform. In the latest version, GTA V, which was released in April 2015, the graphics and visuals have become so stunning (even on 4K screens at 60 FPS) that many critics have found themselves at a loss for words.

But like (most) video games, there was in fact a time when GTA didn’t look all that amazing – a time when limited 2D aerial views were pretty much all that users had to settle with as they cruised, crashed, robbed, assaulted, and ran from the cops.

Throwback To The Views Of Yesteryear

The video, uploaded by YouTube user vojta paul and simply called ‘GTA 2 LIVE’ has already garnered nearly 1 million views since being published on May 2, 2015. Although the user did not include any description of the project, YouTube commenters quickly identified him as being from the Czech Republic, where he apparently created the film with multiple other unknown people (friends?) from the country. More interesting, perhaps, is that vojta paul only appears to have uploaded a single other video filmed by drone before achieving this smash hit, along with a few dozen slapstick comedy pieces including one involving an Orthodox Jew and a Nazi soldier, among other bizarre concepts.

The film comes at a time when drones are in the news practically every single day, from military attacks, to mail delivery, to consumer hobby projects. In a vast number of cases, videos filmed using drones often employ GoPro products, a fact that has lead the company to develop their own consumer drones, which will be for sale later in 2015.

Interview: Kate Welenc, Business Student At Webster University London, Recounts Fraud, Illegal Practices

Below is an exclusive CollegeTimes interview with Kate Welenc, an undergraduate student in the International Business Management program at Webster University : London campus, known locally as Regents American College London (located at the campus of Regent’s University London). After CollegeTimes revealed rampant fraud and corruption going on at the Webster University Thailand campus earlier this year, Webster administrators in St. Louis slandered our team and threatened us, claiming we were a “libelous platform” after they discovered the SLAPP lawsuit filed against us back in 2012 by for-profit Neumont University (which was recently thrown out this month). Soon after our report on WUT, it came to light that Webster’s London campus was in the midst of its own scandal after dozens of American students were cut off from their U.S. federal financial aid in 2014 after the U.S. government discovered Webster’s apparently illegal partnership with Regent’s; Webster hid this fact from WUL students and decided to provide temporary tuition “grants” in late 2014, presumably to avoid massive dropouts… the “funds” were quietly announced in an undated, unsigned, and vaguely worded letter in which WUSTL administrators referred students to a 67-word blog post to “find answers to many of your questions” – a page which, in fact, merely declared that unspecified Regent’s programs had recently been approved for U.S. Title IV financial aid. Subsequently, Webster St. Louis announced that the contract with Regent’s University would be terminated by the end of 2016, yet then waited until April 2015 to tell American students at WUL that they should seek out “private student loans” if they wanted to complete their London studies on time. We decided to reach out to WUL students for a complete breakdown of the situation, which they were more than happy to provide.

Update 5/8/2015: Another WUL student, Mehran Karim, who was responsible for creating this change.org petition has forwarded us additional information regarding his nightmare experience at Webster University London (now a guest post).

Update 5/24/2015: Welenc has updated our team that Webster London has confirmed that they won’t send any transcripts to “grad schools” until their (illegal) private loan schemes are paid off in full. Says Welenc, “With the ‘deal’ they have for us – of which I can not disclose too many details without being in trouble as that was part of the terms of the contract – they did not mention sending transcripts for graduate school, only for employers and visa applications IF payments are current. This is the email response I just got: ‘The agreement does not provide any exceptions for deferment or provide for the early release of your transcript for graduate school. You always have the option for early payment, and you have the option to not make the agreement.’ So basically I can not get my Masters degree until the full [private Webster loan] amount is repaid which is over a TEN YEAR payment plan… they state that I have the option to repay ‘early’, but added to all my other loans I do not see that as a reasonable possibility. Nor do I have the ‘option’ of not taking the agreement as you know my situation and lack of options. Preventing someone from furthering their education is shameful… I am outraged.”

From my understanding, you first attended the (for-profit) American Intercontinental University from 2011, but the school was sold in 2013 to Regent’s University London, a non-profit British institution. Why were you (business students) absorbed by Webster University, rather than Regent’s, and what was the understanding between the students and organizations during this seemingly complicated transition as far as courses, credits, accreditation, etc? Furthermore, are you familiar with Webster’s presence in London prior to the absorption of AIU students?

Since AIU was an American school in London (but also giving a British accreditation) when Regent’s bought it they offered the business students who had some time left in their studies into their American program since that would give us the most transferred credits. Students who had only a semester left at AIU did a teach-out online program and did not have to transfer if they did not want to. Regent’s has three business schools in one, (RBS) Regent’s Business School, (EBS) European Business School and (RACL) Regent’s American College London (I think it is important to note that when Regent’s attempted to get their American accreditation, they were awarded it in both RBS and EBS schools… RACL was the only one to get denied because of the current Webster affiliation). Through RACL all of our credits transferred as at least credits, but not all were able to transfer as core classes or gen-ed credits. Which is fine since this can happen when anyone transfers, as different schools can have different guidelines for their curriculum.

We had the option to transfer to RBS too (maybe EBS as well, I am not sure of that one) but there was a significant difference in the amount of total credits transferred so most of us went to the RACL program which is the partnership with Webster. Their partnership for RACL is that we are ‘technically’ Webster students, but we study at the Regent’s campus in London. Though this is a unique situation since we have Regent’s ID cards and we have both Webster and Regent’s ID numbers with access to both universities’ e-vision portals. It can be quite confusing sometimes because for certain things we address at Regent’s and others we have to address with Webster. Financial aid is one we address with Webster.

But back to your question; when we first transferred there was some confusion about whether or not we would get a dual degree, though in the end (since that what we all signed up to AIU for) they (being RACL) got the ability to do both. I have heard speculation that things were not handled appropriately during the sale of [AIU], as AIU had knowingly taken in new students all the while finalizing this deal to sell [the school to Regent’s], but I do not know as much about that situation as I do with this one so it is hard to comment further on it. I had not heard of Webster in London before this situation but I had heard of Regent’s before. It was a very unsettling time and all I really knew when this was going on, is that I could still get FAFSA funding for my tuition, I could still get my dual degree, I would pretty much get all the credits I had done so far transferred; they would handle the paperwork so we didn’t have to actually re-apply to get accepted into the school or any such thing and we would get the same tuition cost as AIU with a 4% yearly inflation till we graduated as Regent’s tuition was more than AIU’s had been. Things were happening quite fast back then, so at the time this was all good enough for me.

How would you compare your experience studying at AIU with that of Webster London? Does the London campus “feel” like a Webster University campus, or is it so intertwined with Regent’s University (physically, or otherwise) that the lines are blurred? Is it not very strange that a for-profit college was purchased by a “non-profit” college?

To be honest I much prefer going here than AIU, and by ‘here’ I mean Regent’s. It does not feel like a Webster school at all in my personal opinion. In fact unless you are in Webster personnel’s office (they have Webster people on site to help handle certain aspects that Webster would be in charge of) you won’t see much to do about Webster. There are no signs or posters about, no Webster items sold in the school shops etc. etc. So I would for sure say lines are blurred. Even during this whole situation a lot of students didn’t know who to turn to or who was responsible and it took me a bit of digging to find out who held responsibility for financial aid in their contract.

As far as your last part to the question, from what I understand, Regent’s wanted to expand their portfolio and AIU had quite a known fashion department and that is really what they were interested in; that and the Marlebone campus they got in the deal as well. Regent’s already has quite a business prospect so we were a mere bonus. Other than that, pertaining to a non-profit buying a for-profit school I am not entirely sure, as I said that was already quite a confusing time for all of us at AIU.

You mentioned that “in July 2014 Webster got a letter stating that they had to cease all federal funding to the London campus because we never should have been given FAFSA through the type of partnership Webster had with Regent’s”. This may be a “pandora’s box” question, but can you briefly explain what brought this situation on, and where it currently stands? To your knowledge, if Webster was breaking U.S. federal guidelines on financial aid, how were they able to get away with it for nearly 20 years?

Here is what I can say about this. Regent’s and Webster have been partners for 20 years. In the meeting I had with the Financial Aid Director [James Meyers] he said they got the letter in July 2014 saying they had to cease all funding to the London campus due to a ‘compliance’ issue. The ‘never should have been given to the London campus’ statement came from a credible source that I cannot publicly name and was due to a technicality but other than that I am not too sure myself how it went on for so long. I got the feeling like maybe Webster did not know this somehow and this may be true, but that does not excuse their responsibility to us or all the tens of thousands [of dollars] we paid them in loans to this far. It is their responsibility to keep up with government regulations and it never should have got to this point.

I did hear a story about how the Financial Aid Director knew this was coming before the letter was officially given in July, but this was from a less credible source and so will only go further into that story off the record. Needless to say I am sure that a lawyer could get access to all this information, which is something I am looking into as we speak. For now it currently stands that we will not be getting FAFSA loans of any kind for the rest of the ‘teach out program’ we are now all in through Webster and RACL since Webster has broken contract with Regent’s (I am not clear on why exactly they did that). I know that Regent’s is still trying to get their own American accreditation and I am also not entirely clear as to why they were denied in their first attempt recently.

Author’s Note: At the time of article publication, Webster’s web page regarding their London campus programs reads as follows:

Webster University London will not be accepting new undergraduate students into degree-granting programs at the current Webster London location at this time. We will also not be accepting new graduate students in this location after the Spring 2015 semester start in January 2015. We will be seeking a new London location and partner for students to study at in 2017. However, Webster University students may continue to study abroad at this location and enroll in Webster’s robust online programs.

You said that “Many of us were not aware of [the suspended U.S. federal financial aid] at the time [2014] as they simply stated the funds are just coming through in another way this year, as stated in the ‘Webster letter’ I have attached. A few weeks ago we were all told that the grants will no longer be available and we can no longer receive FAFSA at this campus as well as student plus loans through the government. When looking online at my FAFSA statements it shows that FAFSA has not been taken out since May 2014. So the previous grants were ‘free’ money but that does not resolve the University’s responsibility of for us. The solution offered to me (everyone) was to get a private loan for the amount I need to continue school.” Do you feel that Webster purposefully mislead students to prevent them from transferring out while they had the chance? Are you currently able to transfer out? Why or why not? What other hardships has this situation caused you or other London campus students?

The review I sent on your site was a copy of the letter I had sent to a variety of people and so did not actually have the Webster letter attached, my apologies for that I should have edited it. But in this letter they state that “The amount of funding will be unchanged, but it will now just come from a different source. And funds are being made available to ensure that your education and student experience remain unaffected.” Obviously neither of which is the current case for me. It would certainly seem that Webster had waited until the very last minute to inform us of the trouble since they got the notice in July 2014 which has been almost a year since. I am not able to transfer now because my Visa is expiring in Oct 2016 which would be my 5 year cap (as previously mentioned after AIU my graduation was pushed back) — when I recently looked into similar schools with comparable curriculum standards I would still go over at least one semester from my Visa expiration date to graduate. I could have transferred back when we came from AIU, but again I was told that Webster would offer everything I needed to continue in the same standard I had been. Now Webster London is my only option for graduating with the dual degree I paid for. There are many students who rely on FAFSA loans who now can’t get funding, as well as there are students who applied to Webster/Regent’s in August of last year and came over in September thinking they could get their funding and signed year leases in flats only to be told after they have arrived that this will no longer be the case and in the timeline you can see that Webster was already aware of this and could have stopped them before they made all the commitments and paid to fly over here.

As an undergraduate student at the University of California, I was able to study abroad twice at both a public university in Spain and a private university in Korea, using my FAFSA funds which were disbursed directly to my UC campus. Instead of finding “study abroad” partners, it sounds like Webster has been trying to profit by “self-accrediting” (“validating” as Regent’s calls it) the multi-year programs at Regent’s University despite the academics, professors, and campus all being British. This not only violates U.S. federal aid statutes, but also creates a Catch-22 situation where Webster is now unable to abide by FAFSA disbursement regulations. What are your thoughts on this, and how many American students have been effected by this mess?

Yes this also seems to be the case. All the teachers in the RACL program are in fact Regent’s employed and Regent’s is the one to set up all curriculums with the ‘approval’ of Webster. It should also be noted that in the paperwork filed by Webster to the Federal Government i.e. FAFSA forms, we are listed as Webster students and so there was no way of knowing that we were actually going to be in London at a campus not owned by Webster (as their other campuses are). Furthermore funds for the RACL program other than FAFSA loans i.e. cash c/c or any loans that are from other countries are directly paid to Regent’s and they then give Webster commission on them, so it would appear that Webster has been making money on students that aren’t from the US as well. I know that they have been partners for 20 years but I am not sure if the regulations have always been the same, I know Tier 4 started in the UK in 2009 so the ‘compliance issue’ has been going on for at least that long. But again I am not too familiar with the statutes and the dates of amendments. This is all Webster’s responsibility, and one would think that at some point in that time, someone would have had an idea of this if anyone was doing their job.

Whatever the behind the scenes reasons for this, we are where we are now and this has really been adversely affecting me personally and my studies. I overcame many inner and outer obstacles to get where I am today. I have fought my way to a chance at a better life than what was originally dealt to me; to have it taken away through no fault of my own is really unsettling. It is currently the end of the semester and as I’m sure you remember this is when work piles up and then you have finals which are naturally stressful for any student. I have an SSA (student support agreement) with Regent’s which is basically registering a disability or handicap. My SSA makes my studies more difficult than most and they get more difficult with added stress. Since the news of this situation became public I have been in a constant state of anxiety and my work over the last week has suffered. There is a saying that there are only two things certain in this world, but if you have sought higher education through US loans then you know this becomes three; death, taxes and student loans. In the US even if you become bankrupt your student loans do not disappear so it can be a scary risk to put yourself in so much debt on the bet that you will financially succeed after. I have literally put all my eggs in this one basket and if it will not be completed than I have put myself in $100,000 debt without the education I paid for, which keeps me up at night and has been all my focus for weeks. I am a good student and I get good grades. I just want when I was told I could have and what I paid for. There are anywhere from 30-50 students affected by this development to various crippling degrees.

Regarding the FAFSA lapse, it sounds like Webster has not only systematically lied to you and caused you to enter into contracts based on false pretenses, but has also possibly committed financial aid fraud in the United States. Specifically, are you able to name both the Webster University and/or Regent’s University London representatives who have been responsible for these various misrepresentations?

This is exactly what it sounds like happened. But unfortunately I do not know the names of those responsible. My assumption though is that it falls on Webster for not abiding by the federal regulations and Regent’s for the fact that it seems they did not keep updated tabs on whom they were in business with.

Briefly, what did your meeting with Webster University officials on 13 April 2015 in London entail? What was their proposal to you, and/or to other American students, for solving this situation? Specifically, what options did they offer in regard to finance, transferring, completing your “dual” British degree, or otherwise? To date, have you reached an agreement with Webster officials?

Below is their solution to ‘our’ problem. I do not feel that their remedy is proportionate to the situation they’ve caused me and others. At the very end there is a statement about collateral for this “credit due” and it raises many questions for me. What guarantee can they give me that in the whole of the “ten years” they will always provide my transcripts in a timely fashion to either a prospected employer or boarder agency for a Visa, to where it will never adversely affect me? And if by chance there is a mistake down the road and it costs me a potential job or Visa, what then? They mention that they will [only] do this, proving that payments are current. With student loans if we do not have a job we can go in to deferment, they mention nothing of this. So are they saying that if I either can’t find a job in the 30 days they give us after graduation to start paying it back or lose my job in the future for some unknown reason and therefore fall behind on my payments, if I then [receive a job offer dependent on] my transcripts or need a Visa for the same reason… they will not provide them? Keeping me from being able to fix the situation? I am extremely weary of this condition and have little faith that this will be nothing more than a ten year headache and hassle for a circumstance THEY caused. I find it utterly ridiculous and disgusting that we will have paid over $100,000 in loans for this degree, completed the academic requirements and yet it could be ten years before we are able to receive the very bit that matters. I waited a long time to be able to complete my education and I wanted nothing more than to be proud of the name on my diploma.

Author’s note: The below excerpts from Webster’s April 2015 email “overview” sent to American WUL students were verified by CollegeTimes. The section in red was also similarly colored in the original email. Note the affiliate link to private student loans that Webster is recommending to their stranded London students, which likely earns Webster a commission for any student who decides to sign up for the private loans.

  • To support our students, Webster University has decided for those who wish to complete our academic programs at Regents by the end of the Fall 2016 semester, we would allow students to have access to funding equivalent to the Federal Student Loan eligibility based on enrollment in each term not including Federal PLUS loans. For undergraduate students, those who are eligible for the Federal Pell Grant, the equivalent will be considered.
  • The equivalent funding will become a balance due on your Webster University student account after funding is disbursed for each semester of eligibility with a signed payment agreement.
  • Repayment of the balance due to Webster University will begin thirty days after your last course or graduation
  • The repayment term is ten years (120 months) with payments divided equally without interest (no penalty for early repayment)
  • Students will be eligible to receive their Webster University diploma
  • Official academic transcripts will not be available until your student account has been paid. However an official academic transcript will be available (if payments are current) for those who need it for employment or visas (will be sent directly to the agencies only).

Please remember an additional loan option available to you is a private education loan. The link to our recommend lender list is https://choice.fastproducts.org/FastChoice/home/252100/1 for your convenience as a financial aid resource for your Webster University degree in London as we teach out the Webster University academic programs at Regent’s University.

8. Lastly, why did you choose to pursue a “dual” British/American degree in the first place? What advantages are there to possessing such a degree, and/or why did you settle on the United Kingdom for your studies? Do you have any advice for other students out there looking to pursue a similar “dual” degree, or who wish to study abroad while attending a private college (re: accreditation, finance, or otherwise)?

I had wanted to live in England since I can remember. I have always been fascinated with the history here. I have a church up the street that was consecrated in 1096! You just can’t get that in the US. The dual degree was something I stumbled on when looking into schools. I was limited on where I could go as my high school days were not my best. Things have changed a lot since then, I work hard to overcome my obstacles and I fluctuate from a lowest 3.2 to my highest 3.6 GPA now. The dual degree was something that was not an option back in the US and since I want to continue to live abroad and travel and learn, having both British and American accreditation could not hurt my chances for success. I would certainly hope that other students do not read this and decide not to go abroad. Bad things happen and we do what we can to right a wrong, such is life. But this place has become my home and I love everything Europe has to offer. I would however firmly suggest that any student reading this will make sure to know their rights. Education is a right. YOU HAVE RIGHTS. Do not let an establishment tell you otherwise. Do your research on schools, make sure you know your options for finance, because you could end up a river without a paddle, and most importantly, if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t, so don’t be afraid to look into it.

Cestar College : Toronto

Regent’s University London

Neumont ‘University’ Lawsuit Ends In Epic Fail

Update 4/28/2016: Despite failing miserably in their 2+ year long effort to take down CollegeTimes, Neumont University’s new owners (who remain unknown since the secret 2015 buyout) have decided to allow Edward ‘Nasty Ned’ Levine to remain on their board of directors (at least for now) apparently to help him save face as part of some closed-door deal that was made. Although a press release published by Neumont in the weeks after their lawsuit fell apart claimed that Levine was “retiring” to focus on “land conservation” hobbies, ‘Nasty Ned’ is now back in business again with a new company that he created focused on “growth advisory” called Firebrand Advisors… he now appears pissed as hell that our article about his getting fired is ranked at the top of Google for searches of his name, and has recently registered the domain edward-ned-levine.com in an effort to outrank us. Only time will tell if Neumont and/or Levine will come up with a new lawsuit as they desperately seek to censor the web…

It’s a redeeming day in America when even the most highly organized and well-funded criminals realize how difficult the U.S. legal system is to manipulate.

Neumont University – who has spent the last 2.5 years suing, stalking, and harassing me in an attempt to censor negative student reviews of their school from the web – is one such entity. Unfortunately for Neumont, they apparently forgot that outside of Utah, the reach of their powerful “LDS” Mormon friends is still rather limited.

Neumont: A Big Fish In A Small Pond?

In the case of Neumont – a for-profit technical institute based in Utah that lacks both regional and ABET accreditation – even paying off newspapers like the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret Times, hiring one of the largest law firms in the western United States, getting two judges on their “SLAPP lawsuit” docket both of whom have a history of colluding with Mormon figures, and threatening their own students and faculty against speaking out… STILL didn’t prevent an embarrassing, and costly, courtroom loss.

Of course, the best part of all is that I spent exactly $0 on a legal defense.

On March 24, 2015, the U.S. District Court of Nevada ordered Neumont to show proof of (new) proper service on me before April 1, 2015. As that time period has come and gone, the case will now likely be thrown out completely:

On February 9, 2015, I gave Neumont University, LLC until February 19, 2015, to serve defendant Jesse Nickles “by email at [email protected] and file proof of this service.” Doc. 69 at 9. More than a month has passed since this 10-day service deadline ran, and Neumont has not filed proof of service or explained why service of the filing of the notice was not possible. … As Neumont has apparently elected not to avail itself of these extensions of the service deadlines and the ability to serve Nickles by email, I now give Neumont until April 1, 2015, to comply with my prior instructions or have its claims against Nickles dismissed without prejudice and this case closed.

After proceedings dragged on for more than 2 years, Neumont’s legal costs had jetted past $100,000 according to court-required disclosures (which Neumont had unsuccessfully attempted to hide from the court), despite claiming initial losses against my web hosting business, Little Bizzy, of only $72,000 (the lost revenue of one student who allegedly decided not to attend Neumont after “reading negative reviews” of the school on CollegeTimes). Due to my financial inability to hire a corporate attorney, the case eventually went into default judgement, at which point Neumont suddenly (and without explanation) changed their lost revenue claims to be over $1 million.

However, after my article tying the judges in the case – Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey and Magistrate Peggy A. Leen – to possible corruption involving U.S. Senator Harry Reid (and his vast ties to the LDS Church) was picked up by a popular Las Vegas area legal blog after I submitted the piece to Reddit’s Ex-Mormon subreddit, two digital law experts reacted accordingly; Eric Goldman and Paul Levy both excoriated Dorsey for her seemingly purposeful ignorance regarding Section 230 protections. (In fact, Leen went so far as to completely strike my initial Motion To Dismiss from the record, hiding any potential mention of Section 230 protections from further court proceedings.)

“This led me to wonder how Judge Dorsey, having been so attentive to the free speech consequences of the requested injunction, could have missed the section 230 issue. Although her opinion does not mention section 230, an earlier ruling denying a preliminary injunction, issued by the judge to whom the case was previously assigned, noted in passing that Little Bizzy had moved to dismiss the complaint based on section 230 but that the motion was “stricken” because it was not signed by an attorney. The motion has literally been stricken from the record. When I tried to access the document on PACER, I received a screen saying that I did not have permission to view the document; and when I called both Judge Dorsey’s chambers and the clerk’s office to inquire further, I was told that the office could not show me the document once it was ordered stricken. I was, therefore, unable to assess what section 230 arguments Little Bizzy had tried to present, albeit without counsel, and thus assess how Judge Dorsey could have missed the obvious section 230 defects in her default judgment.” — Paul Levy

After the story made the rounds, Dorsey took over the docket from Leen and seemed to have a sudden change of heart (or perhaps an attempt at covering her ass?), deciding to set the default judgement aside without my having filed any motion for such. Her reasoning? Improper service of process, mostly. (Which of course, is hilarious, seeing as how that should have been entered much earlier, and/or, Section 230 protections would have made a much more compelling legal argument for throwing out the case.)

Barbra Streisand Effect Strikes Again

What never ceases to amaze me is how pretty much every single for-profit diploma mill falls into exactly the same pitfalls; specifically, scam schools like Neumont and their president, Edward “Ned” Levine get so carried away running their corrupt little fiefdoms and are so thoroughly cut off from reality that they literally can’t see beyond their own minuscule worlds of fraud, threats, and ego-stroking power trips.

Due to this 2 year long saga, CollegeTimes has received dozens of quality “SEO” backlinks, massive traffic from websites like Reddit, a new throng of followers on Twitter and Facebook, and beyond. Not only that, but our profile of Neumont University now sits squarely at the top of Google results for queries such as “Neumont University reviews” or “Neumont scam” or “Neumont University Mormon?”

Maybe its just clueless Baby Boomers, or maybe there will forever be a massive slew of people who simply don’t understand how the internet works. Here it is: never try to censor the truth from the web (recall the Streisand Effect). But as Webster University becomes the next heir apparent to the wrath of the internet, it seems things may never change…

P.S. CollegeTimes has officially been valued at over $1 million. Thanks, Ned! :)

Colorado State University : Global Campus

Interview: Charles Brumfield, Former Professor At Webster University Thailand, Reveals Mass Abuses

Below is an exclusive CollegeTimes interview with Charles Brumfield, a former lecturer at Webster University : Thailand with a PhD in Economics who has spent over 25 years of his life traveling and teaching at universities across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Dr. Brumfield is one of dozens of faculty members from the WUT campus who claim they have been treated wrongfully (illegally) by the school, and despite being threatened by current administrators for speaking out, he made the decision to come forward as a public voice of dissent against ongoing corruption and fraud within Webster University’s international system. He still lives in Thailand, where he has been offered protection from WUT administrators by the Royal Thai police. The below interview has been combined with quotations (shown in gray) from a series of emails that Dr. Brumfield sent to a private group of former and current WUT faculty members; much of the email content has been re-arranged in accordance with the flow of the interview. PHOTO: Dr. Brumfield poses with U.S. Army Sgt. Evan Mann in a Department of Defense classroom at Camp Casey, Korea – near the DMZ – while teaching on behalf of the University of Maryland in 2013.

1. How did you first come to begin lecturing at Webster University Thailand? When did you start, how were you recruited, and what were the terms of your contract? What is your academic background/qualifications? Further, why did you decide on living and/or teaching in Thailand, of all places?

I was teaching for the University of Maryland in Singapore when I first applied to Webster in late spring 2001. I was engaged to be married to a Thai woman and wanted to live in Thailand (still married to her, 15 years in February). I already had one job lined up, i.e., continuing to teach for the University of Maryland at the American embassy. [Then-WUT Director] Brad Keith said I could work for both WUT and the University of Maryland. The University of Maryland offered their courses on weeknights and Brad said they would schedule my graduate courses on weekends, which he did. I also taught on weeknights in the MBA program at Naresuan University (in conjunction with Bangkok University and the Australian universities Queensland University and Southern Cross University).

I left WUT and Thailand [in 2002] after one year because I thought WUT was a terrible place to work and the University of Maryland offered me 5 times as much money to teach 2 courses in Japan as I was making teaching 5 courses for three schools in Thailand.

Shortly after I left, the only other Ph.D. on the WUT MBA faculty (Ph.D. Cambridge University) resigned also. This left only Masters degrees teaching Masters candidates, same as now… by January [2002] student enrollments at WUT had dropped from around 500 to just under 160. WUT had to be bailed out by WUSTL and began a slow climb toward its former level of deception. It never fully recovered its student numbers.

In 2014 I retired — after 25 (nonconsecutive) years with the University of Maryland, I decided to retire to Thailand. I had plenty of money coming in, so I didn’t have to work. But I wanted to keep my hands in teaching to keep my mind sharp. On the suggestion and encouragement of some WUT insiders that they were “desperate” for good teachers, I reapplied to WUT and got the job under a “B contract” requiring me to teach 5 courses in 10 months for ฿481,000 THB.

To see my credentials, please see the attached vita.

Why did I apply for and accept a position at WUT in the first place with my stellar credentials? (A couple of WUT administrators actually observed that I may be overqualified to teach at WUT.) In my case, I was retiring to Thailand, and was encouraged by a friend to apply for a teaching job at WUT. He apprised me of all the administrative problems at WUT, but he said it would be something to do in retirement and would give me a modest income to add to my five retirement incomes. He advised me just to keep my head down with the admin and enjoy the students. That’s exactly what I tried to do, just the best teaching job I could do without complaining about anything or making any waves…

I was hired in May 2014 after an ad hoc 30-minute interview by [Then-WUT Interim Head of School of Business and Technology, Roy Avecilla] and [Then-WUT MBA Program Coordinator, Ramona Mihaela-Paun] at Starbucks. I revealed to them during the interview the troubles I had while teaching in the MBA program at WUT in 2001-02 (at the same time that I was teaching at two other universities in Bangkok with outstanding reputations). I was singled out [back then] for harassment by the interim WUT director who was sent over from Austria to try to bring administrative corruption under control.

Shortly after our meeting I received their offer with three options. Option A was fulltime which required a lot more work while offering little more in compensation. Option C was adjunct at almost no pay and very little to guarantee courses. Option B seemed to be the best way to go, with a contract guarantee of 5 courses, which for me were offered as MBA courses in Economics and Finance, both subjects I had taught many times before, both graduate and undergraduate. I didn’t even ask about the pay. With my money, it was of little concern to me… My contract was only ฿481,000 THB to be paid over 10 months at ฿48,000 THB a month. (That amounts to about $1,500/month, or about half of what is considered to be the poverty level in the USA. One can’t even live in Thailand on that!) Anyone who thinks I signed up with WUT for the money is insane.

2. From my understanding, you were “dismissed” from Webster University Thailand in December of 2014, is that correct? From what you were told by WUT administrators, and from your own personal conclusions, what was the reasoning behind the severed contract?

Yes, I was “dismissed”. The MBA Program Coordinator [Ramona Mihaela-Paun, now the new Head of WUT School of Business and Technology as of January 2014] told me it was because I got a student complaint that I’m a “terrible” teacher after one and a half class meetings… [but] I believe it was because [Mihaela-Paun] was jealous of what I wonderful life I have led (and continue to lead), and subconsciously she resented that because her life is miserable… just my take.

Beginning in August [2014], I was assigned to teach one undergraduate class at the Bangkok center, and then I would begin teaching two graduate classes in my specialties in Graduate Fall Term 2. In the first week of my graduate classes, I taught [a half-full] Economics class on Monday because of an administrative screw-up in telling most of the students the class started on Wednesday. The Finance class was canceled with only three students because [Miahela-Paun] expelled one of the four students in the class for what seemed like a bizarre reason to me, really no reason at all (allegedly for turning in a project in her class a day late the previous term because his computer crashed… she gave him an ‘F’ in the class). The student begged me to help him stay in school, but what could I do? I was instructed to mind my own business, which I did. He was on the next plane out of Thailand.

The remaining class was a graduate level Macro-Economics class. Not one student in the class had ever been exposed to any economics. I had to start with basic economics, but at an accelerated pace because, after all, it was a “graduate” MBA class. I did a great job! Absolutely great! I didn’t say anything racist, sexist, or otherwise untoward, make any advances on the female students, or commit murder; I did absolutely nothing wrong… My undergrad class was a very basic management class, probably the easiest class offered in any business program, and the book I was assigned [Kinicki, Angelo and Brian Williams, Management: A Practical Introduction, McGraw-Hill, 2013] was less than basic, more “high schoolish” than any university textbook I’ve ever encountered. It didn’t even introduce such an elementary HR management concept as the “Abilene Paradox.”

On Thursday morning I woke up to an email from [Miahela-Paun] saying she and [Avecilla] wanted to meet with me on Friday morning (remember this is still the first week of the term). I went to the meeting in good spirits honestly thinking they were going to offer me an administrative position. The first thing [Miahela-Paun] said was that she was canceling the Finance class and removing me from the Economics class. I was shocked! I asked, “Why on Earth!?” She read one complaint from her iPhone calling me a “terrible teacher” and claiming the student said he “wasn’t learning anything.” After one and a half meetings! If the email wasn’t fabricated, it obviously was written by an ignorant, cowardly student who thinks he knows more how to teach an economics class than a professor who has been doing so for over 40 years with a stellar teaching record and reputation (e.g., University of Maryland Excellence in Teaching Award, Spring 2014). She revealed the student’s name, and it’s hard to believe he wrote the complaint because he was so complimentary to my face. [Miahela-Paun] said, “We can’t have student complaints if we are to make the MBA program succeed.” In other words, “do whatever it takes to keep the students from complaining” – a pattern I found ubiquitous at WUT… no waves, whatever it takes to keep the waters calm… “let the students decide” what is to be taught and how it is to be taught.

She replaced me with a teacher totally unqualified to teach graduate economics… [Avecilla] said I was not being “fired from WUT” but only from the graduate program. This “terrible” teacher could continue to teach undergraduate courses under my contract; still it was an insulting demotion, and obviously he was being deceptive with me because he and I both knew I would be terminated after finishing the one undergrad class I was teaching. [He] seemed to realize that [Miahela-Paun] was making a terrifically damaging mistake, but he said he had “no control” over the MBA program, [even being the Head of WUT’s School of Business and Technology], and had to defer to her. Why? “There’s nothing I can do. It’s out of my hands.” In the far distant future, I hope, maybe those words should be his epitaph, he says them so often.

I was half way through my undergraduate class, and they let me finish it out before terminating me fully with a terse unsigned termination email on December 19 [2014]. I could have just walked away after the meeting and left them hanging without a teacher to finish the class, but I’m not that kind of person. Even knowing my days were numbered, I continued to teach the class at the best of my ability until the end…

3. Surely dismissals of faculty at an “American university” are not so arbitrary as you describe – or are they? Ironically, I was also “dismissed” from the WUT campus allegedly for not holding a PhD degree in web design (the elective course that I instructed). There are several other recent “dismissals” or similar at WUT, that don’t seem to follow Thai labor law, let alone the contractual terms set out by WUT, let alone common traditions in the academic community. Can you comment more on this?

I am not an authority on Thai labor law, but from what I’m told by my Thai attorney, WUT administrators appear to be violating just about every law on the books.

I’m still working on a 100 million baht lawsuit against WUT for defamation, gender bias and discrimination, fraud, libel, slander, wrongful termination, loss of income, intentional infliction of stress and mental anguish, and two separate 10 million baht lawsuits against individuals for defamation. The preparation of these legal actions is taking more time than I anticipated in coordinating the Thai and US systems, but they will be forthcoming. I may never get a baht out of these lawsuits, which will cost me around 200,000 baht to pursue, but my intention is not to enrich myself (believe me, I have plenty of money, hidden away and protected in safe harbors around the world). I want the publicity surrounding these lawsuits to call maximum attention to the incompetence, fraud and deceptions, and outright arrogant foolishness of the current WUT administration. I want them to get the message loud and clear that they simply cannot continue to get away with what they have been doing. If nothing else, they are grossly violating every basic standard of human dignity and academic ethics.

Update 3/10/2015: When my BKK lawyer asked me, “At your age, do you want to spend the next 5 years of your life dealing with this,” I realized I did not. It’s not worth it for the little I would gain. Certainly WUT is not worth it. The lawsuit is still potentially on the table as a tool to help bring them down, but I doubt it will ever be filed…

I’m doing all I can to reveal and stop the deception. A few other current or former faculty are pursuing their own actions. The remainder are too afraid to stand up and be counted. They would rather live with incompetence and fraud than “man up” and try to get rid of these corrupt administrators and restore WUT to an ethical quality institution of higher learning. They are afraid of losing jobs that they are going to lose anyway because of their refusal to take a stand.

Everyone ask yourself, in good conscience: “Do I want to continue to be a part of this corruption and absence of even a hint of academic or human integrity? Do I have the courage to face them and stare them down? Or am I content to stay hiding in the closet hoping they won’t come for me next?”

4. On 23 December, 2014 you sent an email out to current and some former instructors at WUT announcing your sudden (unsigned) termination letter. You mentioned never having received Faculty and Teaching Policy Handbook 2004, WUT Employment Policies and Procedures 2011, among other key documents referred to in employment contracts and elsewhere – a common claim among several WUT instructors. In addition you claim that student evaluation results – neither specific, nor summary results – were ever shared with you (another common claim) even despite your “termination” being based off a supposed negative review submitted to WUT by one of your students. To date, has anyone from Webster University confirmed to you who made the final decision regarding your dismissal, provided statistics re: discipline of faculty, or fully justified why such action was taken?

The answer to all your questions is “NO”. I have never received any of the documents you mentioned. I saw summarized results of my mid-term evaluations, without explanation, in a clandestine meeting with [Avecilla] at a coffee shop. I never saw any other evaluation results, including Lee Tao Dana’s (Peer Faculty Evaluation) visitation results.

The Head of WUT’s School of Business and Technology told me my midterm evaluations were slightly “below average” but wouldn’t let me see them, only poorly explained summary results… [but] I wasn’t surprised by the results because I detected that the students were expecting a level of teaching that I hoped I would not have to stoop to. They had become used to a way of teaching that can hardly be called teaching.

5. Considering the bigger picture for a moment, why do you think a school like WUT has such a shockingly high turnover rate of faculty and support staff (from both “dismissals” and also resignations)? During a July 2014 faculty meeting, Rector Ratish Thakur claimed it was primarily due to the campus location, and the fact that Webster University in St. Louis had “refused” to contribute funding to WUT, etc – but is there reason to believe its perhaps a strategic move by the administration to keep employees “fresh and clueless” to ongoing scandals and problems?

I think one reason is the very low salaries and the poor working conditions at Cha-Am. But I think the major reason for their bizarre behavior is their fear that someone will expose what they’re up to. Yes, keep the faculty “fresh and clueless” and there is no one to report their criminal behavior. Anyone who might pose even a slight threat is simply eliminated. Thus, WUT is left with a cowering faculty who will not stand up to their bullying.

In my opinion Webster is violating every moral tenet of higher education and should not continue to get away with it. Again, in my opinion, I sincerely believe Webster University Thailand will be out of business by summer. It didn’t have to be like this. All that has happened or is about to happen to Webster University really is quite bizarre.

I am very happy in Thailand and will be just fine in spite of WUT’s unwarranted, very foolish, premature termination of my contract with them. I have never had a contract or any job terminated in my life, and I have always been lauded for my work and always offered a new contract.

We who have been so grievously treated by the WUT administration have about 20 or 25 insiders helping us out. They can’t fire everybody on fabricated charges and expect to keep the institution going. If we all stand with a solid front, we can get the corruption and incompetency out of WUT and make it a much better institution of higher learning.

6. Since WUT was first established back in 1999, there has been a seemingly continuous amount of scandals – whether bizarre hirings, to dramatic firings, to suspicious recruiting practices, and beyond. In one email, quoted below, you mention that during the 2001-2002 academic year, WUT went through, astoundingly, five different directors. As one of the only people able and willing to publicly recall the turbulent history of the WUT campus, could you summarize as briefly as possible what forces have kept WUT in existence, and why those forces seem to be so desperate to keep WUT alive?

WUT went through a similar conflict between faculty and administration back in 2001-02, during which the university went through 5 directors in one year. The Ph.D.s on its faculty (including one very prominent Ph.D. from Cambridge University) walked away in protest to the terrible administrative job going on, leaving WUT with only Masters degrees teaching in its MBA program, and within the next year enrollments dropped from near 500 to less than 160. Yet St. Louis bailed WUT out at great losses, and it slowly recovered under somewhat better administrations. Now WUT is drifting back into that wounded bear condition that may ultimately lead to its demise… Will WUT turn around? It has never had much respect anywhere anyway. To gain respect it must employ a staff that will work to increase it’s quality and status and stop the lying, deception and fraud. To find a competent staff, it must increase its pay scale, which may mean increased tuition, which may drive away some of its students. WUT is caught in a “Catch 22”, damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t. WUT needs increased support from Webster St. Louis if it is to survive, and I don’t think that support is forthcoming this time. It also needs a complete sweep of the current admin and a concerted effort to recruit good, honest, concerned people to replace them.

Believe it or not, some of us ex-WUTers who have been getting together on a regular basis recently have discussed this very question. Why is Webster keeping its Ghana program alive for 6 students when they are losing (according to one inside source) $20 million per year on it? Probable answer: They want the prestige of being called an international university with campuses on 4 continents. That’s understandable. But the problem with that is, when your international program is a sham, it becomes the laughing stock of the international academic community. An international university with campuses around the world is very prestigious if you’re offering quality programs like the University of Maryland does. If you’re running a shoddy program, all respect goes down the drain. All your efforts are for naught.

If you are hiring people with great credentials which certainly would make your program look good if nothing else, and then you fire them after a couple of months, you can’t be taken seriously as a quality program. Why would anyone do that? It’s bizarre to the extent of being almost insane, as far as WUT is concerned.

If you run your program based on fear, intimidation, deception, and fraud, how can your program be taken seriously? You need Ph.Ds on a graduate program. I know there are many very good professors, even at WUT, who have only Masters degrees. I have said many times: You don’t have to have a Ph.D. to be a good teacher. But, the academic community thinks you do.

I taught many undergraduate classes with only a Masters degree, but never a graduate class. After earning my Ph.D. and teaching graduate classes, I realized that in no way was I qualified to teach a graduate class with only my Masters. There’s no way I would have done a quality job. It would have been a mockery.

So, in answer to your question, Webster seems to be trying to hard to achieve mediocrity. They want to be prestigious, but the academic community is thinking otherwise based on shoddy programs administered poorly.

7. It is widely known among the greater WUT community that during the fall of 2014, Webster’s St. Louis campus sent a so-called “Campus Review” team on multiple visits to “review” what needed to be improved at WUT. To my knowledge, this was the first such organized trip in WUT history, is that accurate to your knowledge? Moreover, why do you think the trip was so bizarrely secretive to the point of most faculty and students not even knowing about it, let alone being invited to share feedback with St. Louis? Doesn’t this guise of a “review” in and of itself prove that St. Louis is just as much, if not more so, to blame for the scandalous reputation that WUT has?

I’ll just say, I think your question best answers itself. That is, I agree with everything you say in the question and I cannot say it better. To my knowledge investigative committees of this sort have never been sent over before. Everyone tells me that. But I think it’s important to emphasize – as I have many times before – the committees they send over are being whitewashed. They are wined and dined by the people they are supposed to be investigating, in a lovely exotic tropical atmosphere, and then they go home and write glowing reports. They never talk to the faculty or students because they think all they’ll do is whine and what they have to say is not important anyway. That’s always been the way administrations have looked at faculty and students… as disposable.

If reports are made available to the general public, they will have been edited by the upper administration at St. Louis to say exactly what the admin wants them to say. But I have serious doubts that committee reports ever will be released to the general Webster community. Why would they see a need to? Nobody really cares. It’s all window dressing… a farce. If the reports ever are released, they will be whitewashed and show nothing but lollipops and roses.

By the way, I’ve served on some pretty important committees at some big universities (e.g., Appropriations), and it’s pretty much the same everywhere. Committees say what administrations want them to say or approve. I hate committees.

Why do you think Webster St. Louis has sent 3 investigative committees to Thailand in 6 months to try to come up with reasons for all the problems, complaints, and lawsuits involving WUT? It’s not so much the faculty, it’s not so much the students… it’s the administration.

The problem is that the investigative committee members are wined and dined by the people they were sent to investigate and then return home painting a rosy picture that doesn’t exist. So complacency sets in, and nothing ever changes… Fraud, lies, deception, and discrimination are commonplace in the WUT administration. The problem is that the team only talked to the people they were supposed to be investigating. I and most others were not invited to talk to them. It turned out to be a whitewash, although the conclusion in the report was that WUT has many problems that should be dealt with immediately.

8. In January 2015, you sent out an email to various faculty members explaining that WUT was not AACSB accredited, despite its increasing focus on MBA programs at their newer location in Bangkok. In fact, none of the Webster campuses world-wide are AACSB accredited, nor have they ever been. In response, Oliver Skatar, WUT’s new Marketing Communications Manager and former Webster student, sent out an email to the WUT community claiming that WUT is indeed a “member” of AACSB, is accredited by ACBSP, and maintains “Excellent” standing with Thailand’s Office for National Education Standards and Quality Assessment (ONESQA). Would you mind clearing up this situation, once and for all?

I had believed in late 2014 that WUT lost membership in AACSB, [along with its lack of AACSB accreditation]. Membership is required to apply for accreditation. In effect, [that is] their place on the waiting list. Those schools applying for accreditation must go through a very extensive review and analysis before a yes or no is given on accreditation.

I know because I helped California State University keep their AACSB accreditation when they came up for their periodic required review. Just like passing the CPA exam does not mean you are a CPA for life, AACSB accreditation is not for life. It must be renewed every few years (CPA renewal is every year; the only accounting certificate issued for life in CA is Certified Auditor, which I have).

Author’s note: Webster never did, in fact, lose its “membership” in the AACSB database. For some reason, certain websites seem to list AACSB membership incompletely. That said, none of the Webster campuses have ever achieved AACSB accreditation.

I’ve said elsewhere, of some 12,000 schools or colleges of business worldwide, only 711 have AACSB accreditation (accredited separately, only 182 Accounting Departments have it). Only 1,300 schools or colleges of business have membership, but that number includes the 711 who also are accredited, meaning of course that only about 600 schools are members [of AACSB] without having accreditation.

WUT could only dream of being able to shine the shoes for AACSB accredited schools… i.e., not even a remote chance of accreditation for WUT.

I have also contacted North Central Association which accredits the Webster University home campus regionally, and which automatically accredits all of its branches, foreign and domestic. I got an email from the [NCACS] – in response to information I provided them – saying they are considering putting Webster on probation until they clean up their Thailand campus, [which would] be a major blow to Webster all around the world. The ACBSP is also considering suspending their accreditation of Webster, but that accreditation is less than worthless [anyway], in that it actually hurts a school to be ACBSP accredited if anyone cares to look into it.

So of course, [Skatar] and the WUT admin are trying to make ACBSP accreditation equivalent to AACSB, when it isn’t even close. If you have been keeping up with things, you realize that ONESQA has come up for investigation itself for negligent and deceptive practices. So, neither of these accrediting associations is worth much and may actually hurt a school. In light of the recent charges against the rector at KMITL for embezzlement, I have also convinced the Thai Ministry of Education to renew it’s interest in suspending the accreditation of WUT.

There is absolutely nothing exclusive or prestigious about ACBSP accreditation. They will accredit any school that applies, even without investigating the legitimacy of the applying school. To date, they have accredited mostly community colleges in the States and schools that have the reputation of being diploma mills. Many schools that have not been granted AACSB accreditation will not apply for ACBSP accreditation because of the negative image that comes with it.

Webster University Thailand never has had AACSB accrediation and probably never will. They do not come close to having the qualifications even to apply for membership in the AACSB, much less become accredited… the requirements are very strict and schools come up for re-accreditation every few years unless questions are raised in the interim. I’m told by many corporate recruiters that they recruit first and foremost at AACSB accreditated schools and colleges of business before even considering recruiting at schools or colleges that are only members. The big companies do not recruit at all at schools or colleges not associated with the AACSB.

In the early 1990s, the for-profit diploma mill, University of Phoenix, applied for AACSB accreditation and was turned down flatly. They were also turned down for membership. In retaliation, they organized a similar sounding accreditation association called the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP). Do you see how similar those acronyms are? It’s easy for potential students to get them confused, and that was what the organizers of the ACBSP intended.

9. Besides accreditation issues, what specific instances of fraud are you aware of in regard to WUT claiming certain rankings, achievements, or faculty standards? Do their qualifications line up with their marketing slogan, “an American university in Thailand” in your point of view? As someone who’s been involved at WUT over the past decade, do you think fraud has been an ongoing element of the WUT business strategy?

Well, specifically… until January [2015] WUT’s ads contained an icon implying WUT is ranked by US News and World Report in the “top 100 universities” in America. Just by posting that implication, they were committing fraud. It’s not true.

When I pointed out in an email that there’s no way that’s true, either of WUT or St. Louis, they changed the icon to read “Best Colleges US News” with small print reading “Regional Universities Midwest”… which is [true] of the St. Louis campus. WUT is implying things about the Thailand campus that may be true of St. Louis but certainly, absolutely, not WUT. They’re doing the same thing implying that Forbes ranked WUT among “America’s Top Colleges” which is not true of WUT and not even of WUSTL.

Through research of US News and Forbes over the past 2 years, we could prove this is false advertising, certainly of WUT if not of WUSTL, if anyone has the time to do that research. But of course they’ve now changed the wording to protect themselves against the ongoing charges of fraud, so the point may be moot. They are clever.

Author’s note: Webster University’s St. Louis campus was ranked #568 out of 650 total colleges in Forbes 2014 rankings. The WUT campus is not listed anywhere on either Forbes or US News and World Report annual rankings.

The fraudulent claims they were making before this January 2015 letter was published in the Bangkok Post have now been covered up. If the academic community wants to accept that, what can I do? They’ll be back to business as usual as soon as this blows over.

However, I do believe we hit them harder this time than they’ve ever been hit before. Will it bring about real change? And why do we who are now on the outside really give a damn? Eventually I’ll pull out and leave the task up to others, or if everyone involved is willing to accept what they do, everyone will just have to live with it.

10. You’ve been working non-stop contacting governments, education ministries, and so forth across the world to warn them about the WUT “situation” from what I understand. In your words via email, “I have now taken several drastic actions designed to expose the WUT administration for what it is: Undereducated, inexperienced, incompetent, corrupt and deceitful.” You’ve also been offering free help to WUT students and their families for the past several weeks. In short, do you think change will come? Or is the future of higher education a blurry mess of corporate interests, corruption, and bureaucratic ineffectiveness?

[It] would require a book to answer adequately, but I can answer simply: The latter.

Small changes may be made for the better, but overall higher education is a mess. The University of Maryland, University College has already taken steps to privatize its operations and break away from the home campus, while keeping the name for the prestige. They want their classes to be taught by administrative-determined rules (i.e., every Economics 201 teacher on the same page on the same day) in what we oldtimers call “a class in a box”. Online “Distance Education” classes are already being taught that way, and UMUC is leading the world in DE.

When the “Golden Handshake” was offered to me at age 50 by Cal State to “get rid of the overpaid teachers and replace them with more cost effective teachers”, I didn’t want to take it. I loved my job and was at the top of my game teaching graduate applied Economics classes and a few upper division undergraduate classes. Then I did the numbers and realized they were offering me a very nice tax-free retirement check every month plus free health insurance for the rest of my life. The only way that could not pay off was if I had signed the retirement papers and walked out of the building and be hit by a bus. I would have been a fool not to take it.

Thousands of very qualified professors chose to take the handshake and leave. Some Berkeley professors took it and moved across the Bay to private Stanford, including Nobel Prize winners. Berkeley sank fast from its top-5 status, as did the whole system. In my case, I was replaced by 3 part-timers with Masters degrees, each taking one of the three classes I used to teach (very well). Their combined part-time salaries added up to half the full-time salary Cal State was paying me, and they didn’t have to pay any “bennies” (retirement, health insurance) for the part-timers. They saved money but the quality of education (in my opinion) went down by more than half.

I understand that approximately 70% of the teaching positions in the California system are now filled by part-timers, “freeway flyers” as they’re called in California because they teach 3 courses at 3 different schools making as little as $30,000 for all 3 with no benefits. It’s happening all over the US education system as budgets are cut while football coaches and university presidents are receiving salaries ranging into the millions of dollars.

Short answer then: Higher education in the US, and indeed in the entire world, is a mess. I’m glad I got in when higher education still meant something, and out when it didn’t. I draw 2 university retirement checks as well as social security. I benefited.

I didn’t need the pitiful WUT salary, but I didn’t need the biggest insult I’ve ever received in my life either. That’s why I’m involved in all this. This didn’t have to be. I was doing at least an adequate job, and they had to pay me for the courses anyway. Why not give me a chance to finish and see how I did? Why fire me in the first week of the graduate term?

If WUT is not shut down by St. Louis, it may be by the Thai Ministry of Education, under pressure from the investigative free press… I have contacted the Ministries of Education in India, Nepal, Myanmar, and Vietnam [etc] about the deception being carried out by WUT recruiters within their borders. I have suggested that they bar WUT recruiters from recruiting unsuspecting students within their borders using outright deception and fraud. I will be contacting several other countries in the next few days and the major universities in each country. I won’t stop until WUT gets the sordid international reputation it so justly deserves.

11. In closing, it seems rather clear that you are not afraid of the so-called “India Mafia” administrators at WUT, or are you just brave? After the January 2015 “letter” appeared in the Bangkok Post, Rector Thakur sent out a faculty-wide email insinuating legal action against any dissidents. What do you have to say to the faculty at WUT, or at any institution of higher learning, who witness ongoing fraud, corruption, threats, or other abuses?

No, I am not afraid of the “India Mafia.” [They] are weasels of the first order. In my opinion they are weak and cowardly. Like all cowards, they prey on the helpless. They have preyed on, threatened, lied to, and stolen from those who they were supposed to be serving, the students and faculty at Webster University Thailand.

If I have any advice for a faculty like that at WUT, I would advise them to get some backbone, stand up, stick together against small-minded tyrants who use appointed positions to bully those under them… WUT is the end of the road, the bottom of the barrel, the French Foreign Legion of higher academics. To be afraid of losing a job at WUT is like being afraid of losing a rotten tooth at the dentist.

Harsh, but the real world is often harsh. I would advise the WUT faculty and any similar faculty that you can do better than hiding out in a diploma mill.

I’m not a practicing attorney, but I’ve argued a dozen court cases on my own behalf with a record of 11-1. I’m not versed in Thai law but have people on my side who are, and I’m not afraid of any legal actions WUT might come up with… I have a law degree as well as a Ph.D. I know what I’m doing. I’ve protected all of my assets from possible legal action. My son is a multi-millionaire. He is backing me totally. I took on the State of California over just $6 on principle in a case that lasted 6 months. I spent about $20 to keep from having to pay the $6 and the State spent about $6,000 of taxpayers money trying to collect [the $6]. Eventually the Governor of Calfornia stepped in, declared me right, and told the State to drop the case. I never had to pay the $6…

In the fall of 2014, I took on the mighty Google who were stonewalling me from the United States on an access issue. I found their office in Bangkok and went there. You would think I was trying to get into CIA headquarters the security was so tight, but I got in through using my connections. They backed down within the hour, and I’ve had no trouble since…

I’m sorry, but I can have no sympathy for the good people on the faculty at WUT. There are better places to work (e.g., Stamford in Bangkok – not in Hua Hin – and some other Thai universities that offer their graduate programs in English… I know because I taught for one and will again soon).

Webster University Thailand: Rampant Corruption, Fraud Put Blemish On Growing International Brand

Author’s Note: Journalism ethics often call for 3rd-party dissection of information and experiences in order to provide a non-biased view of a story. In this case, due to my personal involvement with Webster University : Thailand, such pure dissection is not possible at CollegeTimes. I have done my best to present a balanced perspective, including interviewing multiple current and former students and faculty from the WUT campus. This post was also reviewed for factual accuracy by multiple WUT students and faculty before final publication. PHOTO: The current Rector of WUT Ratish Thakur (left) accepts a “Trust Mark Award” from then-Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra in 2013 on behalf of the campus, despite WUT having submitted allegedly fraudulent PhD research to the Thai Ministry of Education multiple years in a row in order to renew their university-level Quality Assessment marks.

Update 3/22/2015: Webster University has officially responded to this article by sending out a private letter to WUT students via email (while avoiding all WUT faculty) threatening to sue CollegeTimes. Apparently, WUSTL thought that we would not be forwarded the threatening letter by outraged WUT students…

Update 3/23/2015: Thailand’s well-known investigative blogger, Andrew Drummond, and Hua Hin Forum, have both picked up this growing story…

Update 3/26/2015: According to writers at the Webster Journal (the student newspaper at WUSTL), they are being muzzled by WUSTL administrators and have been threatened that their funding will be “cut off” if they cover stories that cast Webster University in a critical light. This water-downed article was the only mention of WUT fraud and corruption that was “approved” by WUSTL administrators.

Update 3/29/2015: Alex Friptu, the Romanian “Online Marketing Manager” for WUT who was responsible for recruiting Ramona Mihaela Paun (see below) to be the new head of WUT School of Business and Technology, just spent 4 hours 6 mins 32 secs spamming our website from his iPhone on a Saturday night. According to WUT sources, he was recently given a part-time teaching position at WUT so that the “Indian Mafia” administrators could reward him with money allocated by Webster for continuing education of (select) faculty. Apparently spamming and slandering our website were pre-requisites to whatever they have promised him…

Update 4/6/2015: In a completely independent development, American students at Webster University : London have launched a protest regarding the illegal withholding of their U.S. federal student aid. In reaction to being told to “apply for private student loans” instead, nearly 200 students have signed an online petition demanding that WUSTL officials immediately disburse their financial aid funds.

Update 4/10/2015: In reaction to this article, Inside Higher Ed published an investigative piece of their own with several additional stories, testimonies, and other evidence of rampant fraud and corruption going on at the WUT campus. In addition, a letter signed by 160+ students from the WUT campus was recently delivered to WUSTL administrators in reaction to the lawsuit threat against CollegeTimes that WUSTL recently distributed to WUT students as an intimidation tactic.

Update 4/16/2015: After ignoring months of emails and phone calls from WUT faculty and students, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch finally decided to mention the WUT scandals after the IHE piece mentioned above was published (although the Dispatch offered zero additional research). It was followed up immediately (strategically?) by a piece acknowledging the “site review report” released by WUSTL a few days ago. We have heard reports that the Post-Dispatch’s editorial board has rather close ties with the WUSTL administration and will be following up on this. IHE briefly broke down the report’s clear attempt at glossing over serious issues.

Update 5/24/2015: A long-awaited months-long investigation into the WUT campus was published today by the Bangkok Post newspaper. WUT Rector Ratish Thakur has repeatedly insisted in recent weeks to the Post that Webster’s Cha-Am campus will be ‘moving’ to Bangkok in an apparent effort to minimize the reputation damage to Webster that continues to snowball across Southeast Asia.

Update 7/27/2015: Months after WUT Rector Ratish Thakur told the Bangkok Post that the campus would be permanently shutting down – a story that has in fact been rumored for several years – the campus continues to aggressively recruit new students from India and beyond, particularly noticeable via traffic logs maintained by CollegeTimes.

Update 3/22/2016: Well into the 2016 year, it is apparent that WUT has no intention of “shutting down” their campus in Cha-Am despite repeated promises of such to the Bangkok Post newspaper. Instead, they have pushed forward with more aggressive marketing, especially in Bhutan, as measured by CollegeTimes traffic logs. However, we were recently forwarded copies of these three emails showing that WUSTL has begun a massive “budget slashing” campaign across its international campuses, banning WUT from hiring new faculty or staff without approval and ordering them to immediately find ways to contribute to a $1.5 million dollar budget reduction.

English introduction: In late 2014, I saw General Prayut Chan-O-Cha appear on Thai television in a special appeal to anyone watching to help make Thailand a better place. Speaking in Thai, with English subtitles, he asked for residents of Thailand to faithfully report any instances of corruption to his new government. I respectfully submit this article in an effort to expose serious fraud and corruption at Webster University. I hope and pray that the quality of higher education in Thailand can be protected and improved because of stories like this, where dozens of students and faculty have united together in an effort to end years of fraud and threats of violence. On behalf of these dozens of students and faculty, I sincerely thank General Prayut and other members of the Thai government for their dedication to the safety and well-being of students and teachers throughout all of Thailand.

Thai introduction: ในช่วงปลายปี 2557 ข้าพเจ้าได้มีโอกาสเห็นพลเอกประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา ทางโทรทัศน์ ในรายการพิเศษที่ท่านมีความมุ่งมั่นในการพัฒนาประเทศไทยให้ดียิ่งขึ้น ซึ่งท่านพลเอกประยุทธ์ ได้กล่าวเป็นภาษาไทยและมีคำบรรยายภาษาอังกฤษประกอบ โดยท่านขอให้ผู้ที่พำนักในประเทศไทยทุกคนแจ้งการทุจริตต่างๆแก่รัฐบาลของท่าน ข้าพเจ้าจึงขอส่งบทความชิ้นนี้มาเพื่อแสดงการทุจริตและการฉ้อโกงของมหาวิทยาลัยเว็บสเตอร์ ข้าพเจ้าหวังเป็นอย่างยิ่งว่าคุณภาพการศึกษาในระดับอุดมศึกษาของไทยจะได้รับความคุ้มครองและพัฒนาให้ดียิ่งขึ้นจากกรณีตัวอย่างนี้ ทั้งนี้ นักศึกษาหลายสิบคนและคณะได้รวมตัวกันเพื่อสิ้นสุดปีการศึกษาแห่งการฉ้อโกงรวมถึงการข่มขู่โดยใช้ความรุนแรงนี้ ในฐานะตัวแทนของนักศึกษาและคณะ ข้าพเจ้าขอขอบพระคุณพลเอกประยุทธ์ จันทร์โอชา และคณะรัฐบาล อย่างสูงที่ได้ทุ่มเทเพื่อความปลอดภัยและสภาพความเป็นอยู่ที่ดีของนักศึกษาและคณาจารย์ทั่วประเทศไทย

There is one thing, at least, that nearly everyone at Webster University : Thailand seems to firmly agree on: the school has some serious potential.

Not only is WUT in an area of the world experiencing massive economic growth, but it is – at least, allegedly, anyway – also affiliated with a well-established American university that is both “non-profit” and regionally accredited.

Unending Scandals, Controversy, Threats

But spend a few days on campus at one of two WUT locations in Thailand – either the remote Cha-Am campus (near Hua Hin) or the new Bangkok center – and the scandalous stories begin to flow like rats out of a sewer. During my short time there as a part-time instructor of computer electives, here are a few revelations that I encountered, leading to my unwavering conclusion that WUT is nothing short of a diploma mill:

1) Multiple students have allegedly had their life threatened directly by the Rector of WUT, Ratish Thakur, after they questioned the corruption and fraud happening around the campus. Although the threats were repeated, the most recounted event is from 2010 when members of the WUT student council (SGA) held a private meeting in Thakur’s office. During the meeting, Thakur allegedly threatened that students “would be shot” (assassinated by a “hit man”) if they didn’t stop complaining about the poor quality of academics, facilities, and otherwise at the WUT campus. For the past 5 years, students have struggled to shine light on this shocking series of events to an unsympathetic Webster University : St. Louis (WUSTL) administration. Andrea Eickelmann, the former SGA president at WUT, has helped students submit several in-depth letters to WUSTL, interviewed with the Journal (Webster’s student newspaper in St. Louis, who seems to have recently deleted the interview), and even undertook a detailed survey of WUT students to prove that those at the Thailand campus are not only dissatisfied, but thoroughly “frightened” by what they encounter there:

2) According to members of WUT’s Academic Committee that spoke with me, Academic Director Nisha Ray-Chaudhuri has been submitting fraudulent “research” to the Thai Ministry of Education for multiple years in a row in order to renew WUT’s “university-level” Quality Assessment ratings from the Thai government, which requires ongoing PhD research to be performed. Ray-Chaudhuri alleged to the Committee that she received direct instruction from Thakur on how to carry out the fraud, including submitting research that had been completed by other Webster University campuses, changing the names on certain research projects, re-submitting old research papers, and submitting the names of “full-time” faculty that do not work at the WUT campus. Interestingly, even with allegedly fraudulent research being submitted, the Thai QA system still concluded that WUT has an extremely poor rating in terms of full-time faculty and overall research activity. Specifically, for the “15” full-time faculty that WUT claims to employ, only a mere ฿7,495 THB (approximately $230 USD) is apparently budgeted for each “researcher” per year to carry out their mandatory university-level research, resulting in a score of just 1.4 out of 5 possible points for the WUT campus in that category:

Yet, according to the QA, despite WUT conducting almost zero research, having very few full-time faculty members, and having extremely poor graduation rates, the final overall QA rating for WUT somehow managed to be 4.59 out of 5 total points. This comes on the heels of the Thai government seriously considering a total annihilation of the entire ONESQA system after years of dysfunction.

But it gets even worse – not only has WUT been committing “research fraud” for several years, the campus has also been hiring faculty with falsified credentials:

“We use people’s names who do not work full time or even part time at WUT, there is [research] publication credit given to WUT when the person writing it lives in Florida, for instance… Bruce Keel was another person who was let go at WUT, but then he returned. During the last rebellion/uprising in 2010, the “troublemakers” determined that the school giving his doctoral degree did not recognize his name on a list of persons actually earning a degree that year. In other words, he claimed to have a degree he didn’t. He was promoted to Academic Director, but all he did was make coffee. He ignored the long list of items he was supposed to do… Nisha [Ray-Chaudhuri] lists her degree as a DBA, but she added a “ABD” after it, which nobody does in academics. There is a mindset that we need to do whatever sneaky things we can to fool the Thai accrediting bodies, partly because they don’t understand academics either.” — Current WUT faculty member

Then of course, there’s the story of “Dr.” Edward Roy Krishnan, a scam artist from Malaysia with multiple “doctorate” degrees he purchased from diploma mills. Guess which Thai university hired him without a second thought? That’s right, WUT. There’s also the new “director” of WUT’s School of Business and Technology, Ramona Mihaela Paun, who claims 1 Phd, 2 Masters, and a Bachelors from Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, along with a Phd and Bachelors from the University of Gothenburg. Strangely, she achieved this impressive amount of six different degrees at the same time she claims to have held full time jobs at JCI Romania, a Romanian non-profit organization.


PHOTO: Julian Z. Schuster, Provost of Webster University in St. Louis, attends a 2014 groundbreaking ceremony for the new WUT location (a rented office building) in Bangkok. Standing with him is the so-called “Indian Mafia” administration, along with Phil Gwaltney (Student Affairs Director), an apparently “token white guy” whose job is to stop students from smoking on campus, among other trivial tasks.

3) According to multiple current and former faculty members, WUT administrators – commonly referred to as “The Indians” or the “Indian Mafia” by WUT students and faculty alike – maintain two separate financial accounting records; one that they show to Webster in St. Louis, and another that they keep for their own purposes. Over the past several years, this group of Indians have allegedly “borrowed” millions of Thai baht from WUT student tuition fees for personal travel and living expenses, and for their own higher education (i.e. PhDs in France), without any approval or acknowledgement from the rest of the Webster community. The below three documents provided to CollegeTimes by multiple sources show rather indisputable evidence of extensive financial “borrowing” carried out by Ratish Thakur, Nisha Ray-Chadhuri (now married to Samrat Ray, the Director of Marketing at WUT), and James Jain, all of whom are Indian nationals working in Thailand (and 3 of whom previously attended and later worked together at Samford International University in Hua Hin):

“It is obvious to everyone that Ratish rakes in his money every month while denying funding to so many others, even for legitimate purposes. I can only tell you from direct experience. He doesn’t document these kinds of things anyway. Executive committee decisions are simply edicts issued by him, and all the others simply go along. There are typically NO DOCTORATES on the [committee]. Some members post photos of their “retreats” at luxury spas/resorts including the bar area, pool, bedroom, etc. People were asked to nominate individuals but in fact some were simply expected to join, qualified or not.” — Current WUT faculty member

During my short time as an instructor at WUT, dozens of WUT students also claimed that various “fees” were regularly billed to them without any explanation, including a “General Fee” of $760 that did not include any itemization. Some of my American students, who must transfer their U.S. federal financial aid via Kasikorn Bank in Thailand, also alleged that they often must wait several weeks for their financial aid to be disbursed, plus pay disburment “fees”, both of which are a violation of U.S. student aid regulations.

One WUT student shared emails with me showing how, despite his plans to withdraw from WUT after December 2014, his Connections (WUT user account) was placed on hold after he was suddenly told he owed the school ฿2,000 THB from past “bank transfer” fees from up to 2 years earlier. After his account was locked, he was unable to officially withdraw from the Spring 2015 term, and thus his Spring courses “began” despite his already having left Thailand. Now, WUT is claiming that he owes both a non-refundable “General Fee” and “Media Fee” totaling ฿31,000 THB (approx. $957 USD), otherwise Webster’s St. Louis campus will not unlock his account and course records.

Update: 3/24/2015: Multiple students have discovered that WUT has been charging students a ฿25,000 THB “General Fee” (managed by James Jain, the WUT Director of Finance, who is from India) even when they are “studying abroad” at a different Webster University campus. No other Webster campus does this.


PHOTO: Despite graduation only costing $75 at the WUSTL campus, recent bills sent to WUT students totaled over ฿10,000 THB (more than $300 USD). UPDATE: immediately before this article was finalized, I was informed that enough WUT seniors had organized a boycott of the 2015 graduation ceremony that WUT was forced to drop the cost back down to its original price of just ฿3,000 THB; days later, the WUT went a step further and decided to “waive” the graduation fee completely.

4) During the fall term of 2014, Webster’s St. Louis campus sent over a “Campus Review” committee on multiple visits to the WUT campus allegedly to seek feedback from faculty/students on how WUT might improve; interestingly, very few faculty or students were actually made aware of the review process. According to members of WUT’s Academic Committee, Thakur was invited to a secret meeting off-campus with Julian Z. Schuster – the WUSTL Provost and COO – before the review process began, allegedly to reassure Thakur that St. Louis fully supported him and that the Campus Review process would not endanger his current position. Although WUT did not make any real effort to announce the Campus Review process – including burying an announcement memo prepared by WUSTL – I sent multiple emails to St. Louis administrators to inquire about the process on behalf of my students, who feared they would face backlash at WUT for any feedback they provided. Despite initial promises to the WUT student council that feedback would be “completely confidential”, Nancy J. Hellerud, the Vice Provost of WUSTL and a licensed attorney in the U.S., finally replied to my multiple inquiries with a significantly different and intimidating answer:

“Yes, we have received your e-mail. Information sent to the committee and the names of those who submit information will be treated as confidential to the extent possible, but we cannot promise confidentiality. If policy or law dictates that information be disclosed, we will do so.” — Nancy J. Hellerud, WUSTL Vice Provost

I had to personally inquire with WUT students and department heads multiple times to confirm the time and place of the “Campus Review” faculty meeting, but finally found the location at the WUT campus on 11 November, 2014. The meeting, which was hosted by WUSTL Vice Provost Nancy J. Hellerud, was only attended by around a dozen WUT faculty members in total. For the better part of 2 hours, Hellerud – fully taking on the part of an “attorney” – talked over and interrupted the attendees, making a clear effort to steer conversation away from more serious topics. Toward the end of the meeting, I confronted Hellerud over corruption and fraud allegations, and let her know to her face that one of my students’ lives has been apparently threatened by Thakur, as she had refused my earlier phone call attempts to the United States. Without any reply, she quickly canceled the meeting and walked away, fully uninterested in the fact that student lives were in possible danger at the WUT campus (@ 2:05-2:14):

At one point, Hellerud responded with vague reference to financial problems at WUT, possibly alluding to the fact that the St. Louis campus is well aware of and/or enabling the alleged corruption going on, believing it is “out of their control”:

“Frankly, its interesting because the idea of ‘profit’ is everywhere, and we’re not profitable, frankly… but what we, as an organization, have to think about, is there are things we cannot control… and some of those are things you have to ‘pay’ people… it might be benefits packages… but, you can make some assumptions.” – Nancy J. Hellerud, , WUSTL Vice Provost

If St. Louis is indeed aware of ongoing corruption being perpetrated by WUT representatives, especially related to bribery of officials or other entities in Asia, it would be a direct violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.

5) Several faculty members at WUT have been the victims of contract fraud and/or withheld salary, often being forced to teach courses without pay or being promised compensation “at the end of the year” by administrators. One faculty member who has been at WUT for over 2 years, said even she had been scammed by the school, but told me that her students helped her to realize what was going on:

“Before, my contract finished in the middle of August. Then last year, they changed my contract to finish by the end of May. So that means they didn’t pay me for two and a half months. [They] said ‘Okay, we will give you [less] classes for the next contract.’ I said, ‘No! I finished this contract, I need to get paid first!’ So finally they paid me.” – Current WUT faculty member

I myself was a victim of contract fraud, when WUT Academic Director, Nisha Ray-Chaudhuri, attempted to force me to teach a “business” course that I was not contracted (let alone qualified) to teach, without compensating me. After Ray-Chaudhuri ignored several of my emails, I was finally able to surprise her outside her office on campus on one of my days off. When I asked for written confirmation that I was qualified to teach the course, along with financial compensation, Ray-Chaudhuri first tried to call my supervisor, Roy Avecilla, out of his classroom to tell me “why I had to teach the course.” When I asked why she herself, as the Academic Director, couldn’t resolve the situation, she said she would “make some phone calls” and asked me to leave. 30 minutes later, I received an email from her stating that I would no longer be teaching the course. The following week, Avecilla informed me that according to WUT administrators, I would no longer be able to teach at WUT because I “lacked a PhD degree, or at least a Masters degree” in web design (the subject of my elective course), despite WUT having repeatedly begged me to return in 2015 to teach again due to my strong student evaluations, and due to my course in computer applications being the most popular class on campus during 2014.


PHOTO: Although my contract at WUT was to teach computer electives part-time (web design/marketing and applications) I suddenly found myself being forced to teach a business theory class, despite my bachelor’s degree in social science. I was told to teach from Management Science written by Stephen Powell, a professor at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business who holds a PhD and Masters from Stanford University.

In fact, despite WUT’s very short history, already several former faculty members have filed – and won – lawsuits against WUT for wrongful dismissal, contract fraud, and other breeches of Thai labor laws, winning hundreds of thousands of Thai baht in settlements. It’s rather tell-tale that every single faculty member at WUT is placed on temporary 1-year employment contracts – even “full-time” professors who have been teaching for some years – seemingly to encourage a high turnover rate and faculty disconnect. Any faculty member or instructor who doesn’t “play along” with the contract fraud, among other campus abuses, seems to be quickly fired, “dismissed”, or their contract is simply not renewed at the end of the current year.

Dario Navarro, a recent hire at the WUT campus with an impressive list of credentials from Yale, Princeton, and Northwestern Universities in the United States, is perhaps the best recent example of the bizarre, criminal treatment of faculty. His complete story – detailing how he was continually harassed and threatened by the “Indians” at WUT after making inquiries into the campus “audit” process with WUSTL’s administration – can be found in the documents linked above, but here is a short excerpt:

“Earlier today I learned that WUT administrators have made yet another in a long series of illegal, retaliatory and coercive decisions by instructing the WUT attorney to inform me that my salary at WUT for October 2014 would be withheld until I submitted my grades and agreed to WUT settlement terms. The withholding of my salary in an illegal coercive attempt to obtain my consent to a settlement offer violates Section 70 of the Thai Labor Protection Act of 1998. The illegal coercive withholding of my salary is just the latest demonstration of the lack of good faith and abusive misconduct of WUT officials.” — Dario Navarro, former WUT professor

Of course, this may not be entirely surprising to those familiar with Webster University’s recent reputation in the United States, as WUSTL fired their Vice President of Finance of more than 12 years, David Garafola, in 2011, after he filed complaints regarding unethical recruiting practices. Garafola later sued Webster in court and won a large settlement. In an interview with Columbia University, Garafola later explained:

“My philosophy is that you can’t be a successful business officer and not be transparent,” Garafola said. “There are just way too many constituencies. You have to have openness and a transparency that’s there if you’re going to be successful.” — David Garafola, fired from WUSTL

(There is also the 2011 case of professor Tracey McCarthy, an African-American female, who alleged discrimination and sexual harassment. Several other African-American students have also alleged an extremely racist environment at WUSTL.)

6) Despite claiming to be an “American university in Thailand” there are currently no Americans within the WUT administration, no apparent oversight of WUT course curricula, and the WUT faculty is increasingly made up of Filipinos and Indians (mostly friends of Thakur), among other non-native English speakers (which isn’t necessary a bad thing, but surely isn’t an “American” thing). When I contacted the Higher Learning Commission, who is responsible for Webster’s (American) regional accreditation by way of North Central Association Of Colleges And Schools and who allegedly “accredits” all world-wide campuses of Webster, one John Hausaman informed me that:

“We accredit the institution as a whole, which encompasses all locations of the institution. All locations of an institution can be included in the evaluation process for accreditation. I do not have specific information available about that particular campus’ last visit.” — HLC

When I asked him if “any” audit or campus visit had ever taken place in the history of WUT, or if anyone at the HLC could verify such, he refused to reply further. However, after a week of badgering Hausaman, and 4-5 email inquiries later, I finally confirmed (vaguely) that the WUT campus has no audit/accreditation records on file:

“Since we evaluate the institution as a whole, the information about the particular location you are seeking is not information we provide according to our policies.” — HLC

But how exactly does an accreditation agency “accredit” an institution without ever visiting or auditing its campus? It is widely believed that HLC accreditation standards have been going downhill for years. A public 2010 letter from the U.S. Department of Education lambasted the HLC for deciding to accredit American InterContinental University, a well-known for-profit diploma mill. University of Phoenix, the largest for-profit college in the United States, is now also “accredited” by the HLC just like WUSTL. (And, coincidentally, UOP also helped to create the ACBSP accreditation agency for MBA programs after they and other poor quality schools were rejected for AACSB accreditation. Case in point, the only MBA accreditation that all Webster campuses world-wide currently hold is from ACBSP, which many American employers no longer even recognize.)

“The Thailand campus is also lacking in supplies. The last time I attended (2004), class textbooks still took 4 to 6 weeks to arrive, if they arrived at all. While cheap by American standards, the price of textbooks was high. Computer labs were not of very good quality and the internet is slow, although I believe that this has improved somewhat over the last year.” — WUT student, 2005

7) Althought WUT claims to be a “private American university”, the campus, which is located in a remote part of Cha-Am, is very poorly equipped. For years, students have complained about a lack of basic upkeep of facilities, including classrooms, cafeteria, library, sports areas, and more. For the entire 2014 year that I taught web design and digital marketing at WUT, the internet connection was so poor (and so many computers either missing or broken in our lab) that many of my students opted to bring their laptops to class and pay for a special 3G hotspot signal on their smartphones. Shockingly (or not), it appears these issues have existed at WUT since at least 2004.






PHOTOS: Despite WUT having received their Cha-Am campus property completely free of charge by convincing a joint-venture foundation of their good intentions, administrators fail to upkeep basic facilities like the library, classroom equipment, etc. Above you can see an ethernet cable dangling from the ceiling outside of my computer lab, where it remained until the end of 2014, failing to provide a proper WiFi internet connection to classrooms. During class, my students were forced to share 2-3 to a computer/desk, and also had to purchase special 3G hotspot signals to use with their personal laptop computers. Despite expensive “General Fees” charged to WUT students, somehow there was no budget for a $20 WiFi router, resulting in one anonymous student venting frustration by attaching a “No Internet Connection… you’re wasting your time sitting here” warning to one of the computers in our lab.

According to Human Resources staff, the only reason that WUT holds on to the Cha-Am campus is because according to Thai law, a private university must have at least 100 rai (acres) of land in order to operate (even though WUSTL’s true desire is to expand operations in Bangkok, where they don’t own any property whatsoever; during 2014, no less than 3 times did rumors spring up that the Cha-Am campus was being shut down). This claim echos statements made by Nancy J. Hellerud, who claimed during the “Campus Review” meeting that WUSTL is focused on growing profits in “metropolitan” areas, and that the Cha-Am location is “not profitable.”

Such claims are a bit hard to believe, though, seeing as how WUT managed to obtain their current Cha-Am campus completely free of charge as a generous donation from the Srikraivin-Bonython Foundation (a join venture of two families and University of Maryland via Raimon Land PCL), with campus buildings included, by convincing the foundation of their good intentions. Even according to Rector Thakur himself – during a July 2014 faculty meeting – the foundation is not very happy with the direction that WUT has been headed in recent years (they also reserve their right to withdraw use of the land if WUT does not abide by its contractual obligations).

8) After spamming and vandalizing Wikipedia for nearly 7 years, the WebsterThailand handle (managed by WUT marketing staff) was finally banned in February 2015. WUT continues to censor and vandalize Wikipedia to this day, deleting Ratish Thakur’s name and censoring key facts in regard to the WUT campus, in an apparent effort to hide from ongoing allegations that WUT has become an “Indian-Pinoy” college, leading Wikipedia to temporarily lock down the article. St. Louis marketing staff also got involved using new usernames, and were also temporarily banned from Wikipedia, but not before making the following bizarre and rather self-deprecating statements:

Please note that one of the incorrect pieces put on the page is that the University is “Indian managed.” Ratish Thakur is Indian, but the University is managed by an American non-profit and has numerous Americans, Europeans and Asians on staff. To specifically change this to “Indian managed” strikes me as somewhat racist. Inkyhack

Webster University Thailand is not a stand-alone University, but is a campus of Webster University based in the United States. As a result, it would not have an endowment by itself, nor should it even be called a “university” but rather a “campus of a university.” Inkyhack

Believe it or not, WUSTL marketing staff spent several days browsing CollegeTimes as well, after noticing how high our student reviews of WUT ranked on Google, and decided to try and spam Wikipedia by slandering my web hosting company, Little Bizzy (which was immediately deleted… but not before I captured it).

9) In December 2014, the entire WUT student council officially resigned in protest over the ongoing abuse and disrespect they felt they were suffering at the hands of WUT, writing a scathing resignation letter to administrators. Immediately after the announcement, WUT administrators wasted no time in tearing down student activity boards that the council had assisted with, according to student witnesses.

10) The Webster Journal, a student-lead campus publication at WUSTL, has been mysteriously deleting several stories in recent years that cast the WUT campus in a seemingly negative light. Here are a few of the stories I was able to recover:

Webster : St. Louis Completely Indifferent?

Any one of the laundry list of grievances mentioned above should be nothing short of abhorrent to a self-respecting “university” system – not to mention, any human being with even a basic sense of morality. How then, in a sane world, does Webster University not only accept the blatant fraud, corruption, and violent threats being carried out overseas, but even seemingly encourage it? One former WUT professor, Charles Brumfield, theorizes that blind ambition is to blame:

“They want the prestige of being called an international university with campuses on 4 continents. That’s understandable. But the problem with that is, when your international program is a sham, it becomes the laughing stock of the international academic community. An international university with campuses around the world is very prestigious if you’re offering quality programs like the University of Maryland does. If you’re running a shoddy program, all respect goes down the drain. All your efforts are for naught… It’s bizarre to the extent of being almost insane, as far as WUT is concerned. If you run your program based on fear, intimidation, deception, and fraud, how can your program be taken seriously?” — Charles Brumfield, former WUT professor

With the internet having introduced a new wave of consumer transparency (at least sometimes), it is impressive that phenomenons like WUT can survive so long without being crucified by online feedback and blogs. But that’s just the thing: arguably, WUT is a scam that’s been totally perfected for the 21st century. The campus is in Thailand, a country known for its sweet (innocent?) people and rife with political corruption opportunities; its student recruits are from developing Asian countries and have little cultural predisposition to things like “legal rights” or “freedom of speech”; and its administrators are masters of illusion, intimidation, and double speak.

Unfortunately, Mr. Thakur, you made one key mistake: trying to scam Americans.

To entertain for even a second the possibility that St. Louis is not fully aware of the fraud, corruption, and disgust that engulfs the WUT campus is impossible. From years of online student blogs, to internal and external surveys and QA audits (even after being doctored), to interviews in Webster’s own campus newspaper, to the dozens upon dozens of private emails and letters that have been sent, WUSTL is clearly aware to the point of exhaustion that WUT is a corrupt, fraudulent, diploma mill providing absolutely no value to the residents of Thailand and Southeast Asia.

VIDEO: WUT Rector Ratish Thakur appears on a television news show in India, an unusual event for a director whose campus is thousands of kilometers away in Thailand. The majority of WUT administrators are now Indian nationals, as the campus continues its aggressive recruiting in India and Nepal in recent years after interest declined drastically among Chinese, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian students.

With recent explosive stories involving embezzlement at a major Thai university resulting in the arrest and indictment of the university’s rector, is it time to expect a new era of accountability in Thailand? As WUT announces new plans for recruiting Indian students (for the third time this decade), it seems the question remains: can a “university” that hides its own administrators from their website and uses testimonials written by their own marketing employees… ever really be trusted?

FREE Personality Test: Determine Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type Online In Less Than Five Minutes

At some point, nearly everyone asks themselves: “What is my personality type?” followed by questions such as “What career path should I choose?” and/or “What college or degree would best match my personality type?”

While some mysteries of humanity may never be answered, modern psychology has made great strides in understanding the various human personality types that exist. While you may never know how much of your personality is nature (“God-given”) vs. nurture (influenced by your environment), you can better understand what drives your personal habits and thought processes by taking our scientific personality test, below, and thus better contemplate your life decisions going forward.

Below is a FREE personality test based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which was developed in the 1960s by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, during World War II for American women entering the workforce. It is based on the research of Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, and remains the most popular personality indicator in the world. At the bottom of this page, you will be able to explore careers, degrees, and colleges related to your personality type.

1. Are you more concerned with the tangible world outside your mind, or the intangible world inside your mind?

Every person has two faces. One is directed towards the OUTER world of activities, excitements, people, and things. The other is directed inward to the INNER world of thoughts, interests, ideas, and imagination. While these are two different but complementary sides of our nature, most people have an innate preference towards energy from either the OUTER or the INNER world. Thus one of their faces, either the Extraverted (E) or Introverted (I), takes the lead in their personality development and plays a more dominant role in their behavior.

Read both options, and choose only one

Extraverted Characteristics

  • I usually act before I think
  • If I’m away from other people too much, I feel quite stranded, like I’m missing out on something
  • I feel motivated and inspired by being around other people; I welcome new situations and conversations
  • I enjoy a variety of friendships and situational changes

  (E) This sounds like me

Introverted Characteristics

  • I usually think before I act
  • If I’m around other people too much, I feel quite annoyed, and require alone time to feel refreshed
  • I feel motivated and inspired by my own thoughts and ideas, and I sometimes forget about other people
  • I prefer a limited amount of friendships and situations

  (I) This sounds like me

-  Proceed To Next Question  -
2. Which style of perceiving or understanding information and memories is most “automatic” or natural for you?

The Sensing (S) side of our brain notices the sights, sounds, smells and all the sensory details of the PRESENT. It categorizes, organizes, records and stores the specifics from the here and now. It is REALITY based, dealing with “what is.” It also provides the specific details of memory & recollections from PAST events. The Intuitive (N) side of our brain seeks to understand, interpret and form OVERALL patterns of all the information that is collected and records these patterns and relationships. It speculates on POSSIBILITIES, including looking into and forecasting the FUTURE. It is imaginative and conceptual. While both kinds of perceiving are necessary and used by all people, each of us instinctively tends to favor one over the other.

Read both options, and choose only one

Sensing Characteristics

  • I usually think about today’s events, or “right now” kinds of issues
  • I use common sense to find practical solutions to solve problems
  • My memories are focused on facts and specific details about the past
  • I best improvise and learn about life based on my past experiences
  • I prefer clear and concrete information; I dislike guessing or surmising when facts are “fuzzy”

  (S) This sounds like me

Intuitive Characteristics

  • I usually think about future issues and potential possibilities
  • I use creative thinking and imagine scenarios to solve problems
  • My memories are focused on patterns, context, and relations
  • I best improvise and learn about life from theoretical understanding
  • I am comfortable with ambiguous, “fuzzy” data and often enjoy figuring out what the “bigger picture” is

  (N) This sounds like me

-  Proceed To Next Question  -
3. How do you tend to form judgments about people and environments, and how do you make important decisions?

The Thinking (T) side of our brain analyzes information in a DETACHED, objective fashion. It operates from factual principles, deduces and forms conclusions systematically. It is our logical nature. The Feeling (F) side of our brain forms conclusions in an ATTACHED and somewhat global manner, based on likes/dislikes, impact on others, and human and aesthetic values. It is our subjective nature. While everyone uses both means of forming conclusions, each person has a natural bias towards one over the other so that when they give us conflicting directions – one side is the natural trump card or tiebreaker.

Read both options, and choose only one

Thinking Characteristics

  • I rely on facts and logic when making most of my decisions
  • I naturally focus on what tasks and milestones need attention
  • I am easily able to provide an objective, critical analysis
  • I accept conflict as a normal part of relationships with people

  (T) This sounds like me

Feeling Characteristics

  • I rely on personal feelings when making most of my decisions
  • I naturally notice when people and their feelings need attention
  • I prefer seeking a consensus of opinion with the people around me
  • I am unsettled by conflict with others and try hard to avoid it

  (F) This sounds like me

-  Proceed To Next Question  -
4. When it comes time to “take action” on opportunities and make life decisions, how do you typically react?

All people use both judging (thinking and feeling) and perceiving (sensing and intuition) processes to store information, organize our thoughts, make decisions, take actions and manage our lives. Yet one of these processes (Judging or Perceiving) tends to take the lead in our relationship with the outside world . . . while the other governs our inner world. A Judging (J) style approaches the outside world WITH A PLAN and is oriented towards organizing one’s surroundings, being prepared, making decisions and reaching closure and completion. A Perceiving (P) style takes the outside world AS IT COMES and is adopting and adapting, flexible, open-ended and receptive to new opportunities and changing game plans.

Read both options, and choose only one

Judging Characteristics

  • Plan many of the details in advance before moving into action.
  • Focus on task-related action; complete meaningful segments before moving on.
  • Work best and avoid stress when able to keep ahead of deadlines.
  • Naturally use targets, dates and standard routines to manage life.

  (J) This sounds like me

Perceiving Characteristics

  • Comfortable moving into action without a plan; plan on-the-go.
  • Like to multitask, have variety, mix work and play.
  • Naturally tolerant of time pressure; work best close to the deadlines.
  • Instinctively avoid commitments which interfere with flexibility, freedom and variety

  (P) This sounds like me

Your 4 Personality Type Letters:

 
 
 
 

Change MAC Address: Use Public WiFi Signals Without Any Limits, Not To Mention Serious Privacy Benefits

Chances are, you’ve heard of an IP address before.

But in the vast world of computing, have you ever heard of a MAC address?

Knowing the difference between the two could mean protecting your privacy from governments, corporations, and would-be snoopers – or, you know… maybe just getting a few more hours of free WiFi down at your local coffee shop.

Brief Background On MAC Addresses

While IP addresses are dynamic, ever-changing numbers temporarily assigned to your home or computer by an internet service provider (ISP), a MAC address is a permanent ID number used to identify a device’s network interface card (NIC).

Did you catch that? While IP addresses change often, MAC addresses don’t ever change. That is why they are often called a burned-in address (BIA), an ethernet hardware address (EHA), or simply a “physical” address, because they are literally assigned and stamped into your network card by whichever company manufactured your hardware.

Here’s a quick rundown for nerds in the room:

MAC addresses are formed according to the rules of one of three numbering name spaces managed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE): MAC-48, EUI-48, and EUI-64. The IEEE claims trademarks on the names EUI-48 and EUI-64, in which EUI is an abbreviation for Extended Unique Identifier. The standard (IEEE 802) format for printing MAC-48 addresses in human-friendly form is six groups of two hexadecimal digits, separated by hyphens (-) or colons (:), in transmission order (e.g. 01-23-45-67-89-ab or 01:23:45:67:89:ab ). This form is also commonly used for EUI-64. Another convention used by networking equipment uses three groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by dots (.) (e.g. 0123.4567.89ab ), again in transmission order.

Similar with IPv4 – the original version of IP addresses – MAC addresses assigned at the 48-bit level are predicted to run out by the year 2100. So, just as IPv6 was launched for IP addresses, we now have 64-bit MAC addresses for computer networking hardware. And whether you are using ethernet (LAN) networks, WiFi signals, or even Bluetooth, chances are that any device you buy from now on will have a unique EUI-64 code(s).

The Danger Of Physical Identifiers

“Okay, so what’s the big deal?” you may be thinking. For many consumers, privacy is increasingly a negligible issue. From personal photos, to birthdays, to family relationships, more and more information continues to be documented online.

In the case of MAC addresses, however, you are being physically tracked.

Not only are government entities tracking your MAC address everywhere you go, but several private corporations are tracking you too – in an organized effort to create a unique marketing profile of millions of individuals.

In an August 2014 interview with Edward Snowden, journalist James Bamford confirmed that the NSA actively tracks millions of people around the globe by way of MAC addresses, a revelation that had first popped up earlier in several blogs and newspapers. In other words, even if your laptop moves from a Starbucks WiFi signal to an office ethernet port, government and some corporate players can see exactly where you are at any given time, based solely on your computer’s physical MAC address.

In June 2014, Apple made a controversial announcement they would begin implementing randomized MAC addresses into all new iOS (8) devices going forward, in an effort to anonymize the identity of WiFi users using Apple products. Still, this has created even more questions for consumers: is Apple simply pushing marketers toward their new iBeacon technology, which is simply an Apple-controlled version of “physical” addresses using Bluetooth technology? Even if WiFi MAC addresses are randomized, what about ethernet (LAN) connections, Bluetooth devices, and beyond?

Spoofing Your Current Mac Address

During the next several years, randomized MAC addresses will hopefully become more common in an effort to protect the privacy of internet users. However, such widespread implementation is still only a pipedream, and in the meanwhile there are only 2 ways to realistically change (or “hide”) your physical MAC address:

1. Switch to a completely different physical device
2. Use a software application (or system hack) to “spoof” your real MAC address

Determining your “real” MAC address is extremely easy on most devices. On Microsoft Windows, open the Command Prompt and simply enter either of the following:

ipconfig /all
getmac

On any computer running OSX, you can open Terminal and enter the following:

networksetup -listallhardwareports

On any Linux distro, it’s nearly the same. Open Terminal and enter the following:

ifconfig -a

On any Android device, go to Settings >> About Device >> WiFi Address (or Bluetooth Address). On any iOS device go to Settings >> General >> WiFi Address (or Bluetooth Address). On any Windows Phone device go to Settings >> About >> WiFi (MAC) address. For ChromeOS, video game consoles, and more, check out this WikiHow article.

Without further ado, the below software applications can be used to “spoof” or change your MAC address to appear to be different from your “real” MAC address. And while there are nerdier ways to go about this (see HowToGeek), the typical consumer only has one real reason to change their MAC address: longer (or free) WiFi sessions!

Microsoft Windows MAC spoofer: Technitium MAC Address Changer

Apple Macintosh OSX MAC spoofer (script): SpoofMAC

Linux MAC spoofer (script): SpoofMAC or macchanger

Android devices (apps): Wireless MAC Address Changer or MAC Spoofer or MacMan

iOS devices (system hack): step-by-step tutorial and video example

(Pro Tip) Determine MAC manufacturer: MAC address and OUI lookup

So, the next time you’re at an airport or coffee shop and get booted off the free WiFi signal after only 30 minutes, try clearing your browser’s cookies and temporary files, and using one of these methods to spoof your MAC address. Of course, courtesy would have you first make sure there’s not a queue of 25 patrons waiting to sit down… but I suppose social etiquette should be saved for another article…

Note: Spoofing your MAC address is not illegal. However, it can technically be used to perform illegal acts. Please check the laws in your jurisdiction, as well as the Terms of Service for any network you are using, before attempting any of these methods.

Interview: Luke ‘Gold Jacket’ Eilers From YouTube Talks Girls, Psychology, And The Human Experience

Below is an exclusive CollegeTimes interview with Luke Eilers, who has developed a strong following on his YouTube channel, where he focuses on social experiments, human psychology, moral questioning, and other intriguing topics. I first came across Luke due to an experiment he did a few years back dressed up as Santa Claus where he easily collected dozens of phone numbers from attractive young women – and have been following him ever since as his channel continues to tackle a wider array of questions. Recently, he also launched a confidence-building course called Imaginary Men, in which members can receive personal life coaching and relationship advice.

I have to start out by confessing that I’m a big fan of your YouTube channel, Luke. I first noticed you because of the Santa Claus social experiment you did with the /whatever team a few years ago. Briefly, how did you get started with YouTube, and do you have any current “partners” or are you working on videos independently these days?

Thanks for the kind words Jesse! I was one of the original founders of the /whatever channel. It started with a burning passion in my mind to start creating prank videos and things magically worked out beyond what I initially envisioned! After about 8 months of doing the pranks, I decided I would start a vlog channel (GoldJacketLuke) and do both the vlogs and the pranks at the same time. However, there were some business disagreements on whatever and I decided to leave that channel and focus fully on the GoldJacketLuke channel. I love the question Alan Watts proposes in one of his popular videos, “What would you do if money was no object?”. For me, my highest passion is discussing the ideas that I talk about on my GoldJacketLuke vids expressing my thoughts. :)

Your channel has really branched out lately, but in general, it seems you are passionate about psychology, moral questions, and beyond. Is that accurate? At the end of the day, what do you hope to accomplish with your channel, and which subjects are you most passionate about?

Yep, sounds accurate. I’m also very into dating advice as well as philosophy! At the end of the day, I hope to spread ideas that help people live more truthful, fulfilling, empowered, & passionate lives and have a blast doing it!

So on the dating advice thing… seriously now, where does your mojo come from!? How does a guy dress up like Santa Claus – let alone any of your other approaches – and come away with dozens of phone numbers from some of the most beautiful girls in California… in literally minutes?

Haha I was definitely a late bloomer with the ladies. You wouldn’t believe how awkward I used to be when talking to girls I was attracted to. I decided it was something that needed to change so took massive action on improving with women and have approached tons of girls over the last couple of years. Having a camera on me, my friends’ support, and knowing that millions would watch on youtube also helped motivate me on my more ridiculous stunts :P

I’m sure you are familiar with the so-called “pickup artist” scene, a.k.a. PUAs. Frankly, I’ve always found much of that scene degrading, not only because it encourages shallow relationships but it also seems to tell young men there is only a single, self-righteous alpha male “image” that is respected by society. I’m curious what you think about that scene, and how you relate to and/or differentiate yourself from it?

Yes, very familiar. Great questions and agreed. For me, the PUA scene actually initially massively helped me. It made me believe that I could improve with women, change myself, and gave me a path to do it.

So for that I commend the community and I think the PUA community does lots of good, however at the same time I think the scene does TONS of bad. 

Most of the PUA culture is “the blind leading the blind”. Rather than having healthy role-models, insecure guys are following power-hungry misogynists who love the ego of “being the alpha guy who bangs hot girls”, rather than guys who genuinely love women and can connect with them in a real way. The PUA scene promotes a mentality of “conquering women” to feel good about your ego, rather than authentically connecting with women and being yourself. On the path to manhood I think going through a PUA phase could be extremely healthy for a man’s development (it was for mine) to overcome one’s insecurities. However, it seems like lots of guys get stuck in the scene which has a feel to it equivalent to a never-ending hole that just gets deeper and deeper the more you dig. The purpose of any dating advice should be to fall in love, something the PUA community ironically doesn’t talk much about.

I love talking about the PUA community haha, I find it very fascinating and curious how my message evolves as I’m sort of in the field.

Speaking of healthy role-models, I hear you are launching a new product – along with some other strapping young lads – that aims to provide some heart-felt advice to young men who are looking for some legitimate discussion on real life issues. Please explain, and plug away :)

Yep yep! It’s called Imaginary Men. It’s an audio program that I created along with five other personal development and dating coaches. The program is very different than traditional “self-help”. Imaginary Men is a fluid and inspired conversation where the six of us all coach each other on the current problems we face, talk about desires we’d like to explore, and share stories about our most transformative experiences from our life. The program is very unique in that we are extremely vulnerable — we share our deepest shames, our biggest failures with women, and lots of our embarrassing lowest lows from our lives. For example I share my “broken penis” story and Fred shares about how he lost his virginity to a prostitute. Some of what we shared in this recording was so personal and sensitive that it was our first time discussing it with anyone. If you are interested in personal growth, improving your social anxiety (included is a social anxiety virtual coaching bonus with ‘in-field” demonstrations), and improving your relationships with the opposite sex — I highly recommend you checkout Imaginary Men.

One of your most viewed videos currently is about the so-called “No Fap” movement that’s grown popular over the past few years among young males on the web. For our *less-informed* readers, can you briefly explain the meaning of the term, and how it has affected you personally?

“Fapping” is an internet lingo term for masturbation. The “No Fap” movement is an experiment where guys abstain from watching porn and masturbating. The goal is to get guys to connect with real women and have more fulfilling relationships (rather than staying home and jacking off to fake pixels of girls online). I believe porn is one of the biggest problems the modern day man faces that has really demasculinized our generation. If you, the reader, think you may have a problem with a porn or masturbation addiction, definitely recommend you to checkout my video and see if it’s right for you.

I’ve found that when I don’t look at porn or masturbate I have more energy, motivation to meet women, have more drive and ambition, and have a higher self-respect. Muhammad Ali said one of his secrets was that he didn’t masturbate for several weeks before a fight.

From “No Fap” to “How To Get A Girlfriend” to “How To Not Give A Fuck”, your video topics run the gamut, to say the least! Where does your inspiration/knowledge come from? College professors? Ancient books? The internet? Is peer-to-peer learning via the web the future of “life” education? Who are some of your role models or people that you admire?

I first started getting into this field by finding Steve Pavlina’s blog several years ago. I instantly got hooked. I thirst for knowledge and really love ideas on how to improve yourself. Afterwards I’ve been hooked by several other “gurus” – Alan Watts has had a tremendous impact on me.

I’d say I’ve learned the most from other “gurus”, reading books, and from my real life experiences. I’ve also learned a shit-ton from my friend – dating coach Shogo Garcia – lately, and hanging out with him in person. The best way to learn is always real life experiences! And from all those sources the inspiration kind of just “flows” through me!

To finish up, how would you summarize yourself in one word? Where do you see yourself in the future as far as career plans, income, or life purpose? Could YouTube be a life-long focus for you, or – as you mentioned earlier – if “money was no object” what would you pursue? Any key advice for readers out there looking to launch a successful YouTube channel?

Haha awesome question! The first word that came to my mind was: “weird”. I am a very weird guy. I think life is very weird. I think the fact that we exist is very weird. Everything is all very weird in my eyes.

I see myself making YouTube videos for at least another 10+ years. Spreading ideas on how to live the best life possible is my passion. I want to get into public speaking in the future and be able to speak live to audiences. I’d also like to travel a lot more! It’s really tough getting started on YouTube now… the best bet is to start building your audience with content that can go viral (pranks, etc). And once you get an audience the momentum really helps! But whatever your wildest dream is, go for it and you might be surprised ;)

You can follow Luke on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+

Glen Allsopp: How ‘ViperChill’ Lost All Credibility

For the past several months, I’d been considering writing an article about Glen, a rather well-known “internet marketer” from ViperChill.com. Last week, after seeing his latest email newsletter in which he partnered with Alex Becker to promote a rather seedy product to thousands of webmasters – only weeks after having criticized a related product via Twitter – I called him out via email and invited him to an interview, noting that he had apparently disabled comments on that blog post in an attempt at censorship. Glen refused, insisting that he “uses the product” and it’s “changed the way he does business” and that I was only “insulting” him out of jealously (etc). He concluded, “Feel free to write whatever you like. I’ll be sure to forward it to people who ask why I don’t answer emails anymore.” I finished by asking, “What happened to the old, honest Glen? Flashy car photos, bullsh*t products, and Alex Becker… Glen 2.0… an email marketer who doesn’t answer emails? That pretty much sums up the industry.” I privately confirmed with Glen via email, twice, that he was not willing to answer any questions for this article. I always believe in giving people the chance to publicly explain themselves, but apparently Glen has nothing to say, which is rather tell-tale (see bottom).

Update 11/24/2014: It looks like Glen has pro-actively removed me from all of his email mailing lists. At least one website has already removed a glowing recommendation of Glen’s resources because of this article. My intention was not, and is still not, to create bad blood. In the spirit of debate and conversation I encourage thoughtful discussion, and not black-listing, etc. Anyway, cheers ~

Update 7/9/2015: Charles Floate, the increasingly well-known blogger behind GodofSEO, responded to this article in a passionate blog post of his own. Earlier, I had had a friendly Facebook exchange with Floate after noticing he was promoting Glen’s recently updated Marketing Inc 2.0 courses, a follow up to the online series that I had encouraged Glen to pursue and which partially influenced my LittleBizzy relaunch.

Update 4/11/2016: Looks like this piece is spiking again, so I should say that I recently had a guest post on MaxCDN’s blog about how to launch a high quality web hosting business and I mentioned Glen’s Marketing Inc project (again) as part of my inspiration. I will always oppose some of his bad decisions mentioned below, however ;)

Is being critical of one of the web’s ‘top’ internet marketers wise?

That depends, I suppose, on your moral convictions. As Sergeant Landsman sternly asserts in The Wire, “It’s all about self-preservation, Jimmy. Something you never learned.”

Well, I just so happen to be more of a McNulty fan, in the end.

If there’s one thing I hate in the digital age, its the virtual dicksuckery that now pervades the SEO and internet marketing industries in a way that so perpetuates quackery that nobody seems willing to call a duck a duck. And while I could (perhaps later) address multiple examples, today’s post is about calling out Glen Allsopp of ViperChill, one of the most followed internet marketing “gurus” online.

The Decline Of A Once Great Marketer

I have followed Glen for several years now, along with a multitude of other marketing bloggers. Despite my skepticism about most of his fly-by-night “products” and my disagreement with many of his opinions, I gave him the benefit of the doubt because so many people seemed to respect him and his case studies. And, over the years, I can say that Glen genuinely inspired me, either directly or indirectly, in some of my own personal thought processes. Don’t get me wrong – Mr. Allsopp is a clearly intelligent individual, who is a more or less likable character among many in the blogosphere (and for what it’s worth, I rather enjoyed his recent Marking Inc. video series).

Unfortunately, Glen seems to be backsliding. In recent months he has:

In fact, Matt Cutts, the now (in)famous leader of Google’s Web Spam team, even made a rare public jab at black-hat SEO “hype” promoters like Glen, calling them “used car salesmen who won’t show you their cars.” Ouch.

Making Money From Selling False Hope

This is not an anti-Glen Allsopp piece, or an anti “internet marketing” piece. This is an anti “pretending to offer real world value when all you do is make money from re-packaging false hope each month to a new crowd of desperate online newbies” …piece.

There are dozens, if not thousands, of “gurus” who do this on the web, and Glen is nowhere near the worst. In fact, its been a cornerstone of internet commerce since the beginning, with communities like Warrior Forum, Digital Point, BlackHatWorld, and others churning out bullshitter after bullshitter with absolutely no end in sight. Generally speaking, these bullshitters rely completely on the likes of ClickBank, and other digital affiliate product markets that have very lax standards when it comes to fraud. They then, sometimes with the help of others, hype the hell out of certain products, censor any critical feedback, avoid conversations with non-newbies who see through their bullshit, and make a good bit of money (sometimes) from all the clueless desperate people who purchase their get-rich-quick software “products” – which often involve black-hat SEO (although, in recent years, this approach has shifted more toward “online courses” and “members only” forums in place of traditional eBooks and software.)

Glen’s latest promotion, Source Phoenix, is yet another box of re-packaged false hope developed by Alex Becker, who got together several other internet marketers to help him hype the hell out of it in order to avoid criticism from competitors – that way, “hype” is maximized, and “affiliate” profits are shared all the way around. (Source Phoenix is yet another hype-promotion involving PBNs, a black-hat SEO tactic frowned strongly upon by Google, which has gotten thousands of websites banned – it also takes significantly more time and money than affiliates would have you believe.)

And while every emerging webmaster/marketer/human being could be expected to dabble in shittiness from time to time – especially when starting out – people like Glen Allsopp are old enough and experienced enough to know what they are doing is simply ripping off newbies who desperately want to find some success on the web.

Glen Allsopp Tactics In A Nutshell

As far as making money on the web goes, there are generally two types of people:

1. Those who start out hyping “crap” and evolve to selling something of value
2. Those who start out hyping “crap” and several years later, are still hyping “crap”

With all due respect, Glen currently falls into the second category. Despite his shining “case studies” on ViperChill, he continues to regurgitate the same iterations of ripoff black-hat SEO products and Super-Secret VIP Members-Only Clubs! despite it all ultimately coming back to him promoting his high-risk PBN backlinks (etc).

But if developing a micro-cult following online is your biggest goal in life – rather than, say, launching a successful eCommerce store, leveraging digital marketing for real-world business, or finding ways of adding true value to society… then here are some steps you can take to emulate “used car salesmen” on the web:

1. Project Superiority, Always. Become totally immersed in condescending language with every single email you write, comment you make, or discussion you have. Use patronizing phrases like “glad it helped you, bud” to remind every conversation of your self-importance. Like an alpha male on a reality TV show, establish yourself as intellectually superior, overly reasonable, and profess the success of your “followers” as your top concern. However, if anyone challenges you or criticizes anything you say, cut them off immediately, and move to item #2.

2. Pretend You Don’t Care. Combining your bloated ego (above) with a sense of indifference is a lethal combination. In fact, its the same psychological approach used by the 21st-century man-children who call themselves Pick-up Artists (PUAs) when they harass troubled girls with daddy issues down at the local bar – except in this case, you are targeting needy young webmasters looking for an online father figure. Respond to any and all criticism with reverse-psychology phrases like, “No worries if you don’t want to follow me after this” (quote via email).

3. Act Like Everything You Do Is A Favor. I’ve spent the better part of a decade devouring news, blogs, and the like online, and never have I come across others who can so cleverly make everything they do seem like a gift from Christ above. This is clearly not something that guys like Glen learned on Warrior Forum, but rather something that comes naturally to a select few. (If guys like Glen or “Becker” were born a century earlier, they’d be selling snake oil tonic up and down the Mississippi River.) In fact, the first thing Glen said to me when I asked him why he was promoting scam-ware was “What’s your problem, bud? I’ve replied to your past emails!?” (drastically paraphrased).

4. Master The Art Of Subtly. Best reserved for a future article, but suffice it to say that the only way you’ll be able to accomplish #2 and #3 is by way of subtle, subconsciously-manipulative language in a controlled environment.

5. Control Your Environment. Something that most IM’ers like Glen understand well is the power of groupthink, or “crowd” mentality. The fastest way they can maximize hype and create a false sense of celebrity is by controlling what their audience is exposed to. Specifically, only blog comments that worship and adore them are typically accepted, and receive an immediately reply that simultaneously A) “encourages” the person commenting and B) condescends to the person commenting (reinforce #1, always). Very little interaction takes place on public forums or any environment which such “hype-artists” cannot control, which is another reason they LOVE email lists so much.

6. Create Fake Celebrity. A surprisingly easy thing to do on the web, where nobody knows you from Adam. Making yourself look more famous or successful than you really are is a guilty pleasure of most netizens, if we are being honest. If you are Glen, you post The Guardian newspaper’s logo all over the place making it look like they’ve endorsed your marketing services, despite you having reached out to them several years earlier as part of a “who’s traveling the world and making money online?” survey. But hey, if you’ve got it, then use it — it’s not like… anyone’s going to track down those articles…

(If all else fails, take a cue from Glen and put logos from the likes of Reuters, Forbes, etc. on your site, and pretend like news corps around the world are talking about you. And for the record, when guys like Glen say they’ve done marketing for “Fortune 500” clients, its bullshit, as large corporations NEVER hire rogue marketers. Most any SEO who’s worked with agencies in a developing country – i.e. South Africa, as Glen did – has done work on behalf of Fortune 500 subsidiaries as part of that agency’s client base. Or, feel free to call up Land Rover and ask them if they’ve heard of Glen Allsopp.

7. Create A Sense Of Mystery. Probably one of the only items on this list that I still quite respect about Mr. Allsopp is his unique ability to create mystery. With every email he sends or blog post he carefully constructs, Glen has a keen ability to make you feel part of something grand, something that the rest of the world is missing out on. Take for example, his Private Inc. email list for black-hat SEO backlinks — despite Google’s Web Spam team clearly knowing about the list and Glen’s sprawling PBN network, you can’t help but want to know more about this minimalistic wonder:

glen-allsopp-private-inc-1

8. Churn Out New Crap Every Month. The problem with “hype-artists” is that after they’ve been in the game too long, its the only business model they know. In fact, they’ve built up such a facade online that by turning to anything else, they would literally have to tear down years of carefully constructed bullshit, and admit the truth to themselves. Obviously, that becomes a lot harder after you’re into your late 20s, 30s, or even beyond, which is why guys like Glen are still putting crap up on ClickBank, recycling eBooks and video courses and “nich affiliate” products year after year.

9. Create Artificially Low Supply. Economics 101: When there’s not much demand, the only option you have is to create less supply. Companies like Apple and Nintendo have been doing this for years during new product launches so that pre-order queues and launch hype is maximized (nothing helps sales more than the Wall Street Journal screaming, “Nintendo Wii sold out, factories ‘rushing’ more deliveries.”) The first email you get after signing up for Glen’s Private Inc. list literally says “Please Unsubscribe from the Waiting List” as subsequent emails go on to explain how the team only “accepts” new clients once a month to deal with the massive “demand”… but don’t worry, says Glen, this is not hype!… He is just seriously too busy to accept new customers… except maybe now… or NOW… or… why haven’t you ordered any backlinks yet!? :)

10. Rub Elbows With Well-Knowns. Last but not least, attempt to associate with reputable people in the industry, i.e. Rand Fishkin, on his own website, inbound.org, even just days before you insult him on your own blog. (If that doesn’t work, try shooting the shit with Brian Dean, or other high profile white-hat SEO guys.) In fact, blatantly copy website features from Pat Flynn’s homepage, since he is your idol, and maybe readers will get confused and think you haven’t made your cash by scamming newbies when they look at your income reports and listen to your Pat Flynn-esque podcast on iTunes.

In conclusion, I humbly implore Mr. Allsopp to return to his “roots” as a down-to-earth marketer, promoting quality products, while keeping in mind the thousands of young webmasters that look up to him. After all, it was his younger self with the best advice:

“Don’t be an internet marketer for the ego. I think at times we all love to share how good we are but it is not about how many visitors you can send but the results you can get from those visitors in terms of subscribers, buying products and clicking on ads. If you want to get in this space because you want to appear like you know it all and get some e-fame then you are wasting your time, but if you really want to help people get traffic to their sites then I fully respect that.” – Glen, 2008

Anyway, so here’s my bet: Without any help from PBNs or black-hat SEO, I’ll rank this article at the top of Google for terms like “Glen Allsopp” and “Glen Allsop” and “Glen Alsopp” and “ViperChill” and “Viper Chill” to prove a simple point:

“Every link I’ve managed to build has come from nothing but: Writing excellent content, Engaging in my niche, Repeating what works.” — Glen, 2009

But don’t take my word for it… I’m just some hack writer with an axe to grind.

Dirty Words: A Brief Review Of The Most Offensive, Suggestive Words In The English Language. Panties.

What do you get when you mix Latin, German, and French, along with a bunch of other linguistic tidbits (eww)? You get the English language of course, one of the most impressively adaptive yet horrifyingly dirty languages in human history.

And when I say dirty, I’m not just talking about your F*CKS, SH*TS, and C*NTS. (English cursing is as good as it gets, but that is best saved for another article.)

The Nasty Nast Of Suggestive English

During my senior year at University of California : Irvine, some friends decided to place a bet on who could most impress our political science professor on their final in-class essay. This guy had been tenured since the days of Henry Kissinger, and was constantly using vocabulary that made political science sound more like Human Sexuality 101. Naturally, then, someone had the retarded idea of seeing who could most eloquently insert (eww) a suggestive word into their final exam. Sounds simple, right?…

Perhaps. Unless of course, the word you had to use was “panties.” That’s right, I had to insert the word panties into my final, in-class political science essay. Nasty nast.

Needless to say, there’s absolutely no possible context in which to appropriately use the word panties while arguing the points of American interventionism in Iran by way of progressive diplomacy and cultural exchange.

So, a few paragraphs into my essay, I simply finished a sentence with a period, followed by the word panties, and then continued writing as normal. It was revolting, and violating, and yet, on some strange level of peculiarity… almost enlightening. (My paper was later returned to me with a big red circle drawn around the word “panties” with a question mark beside it… along with a shining letter “A-” at the very top.)

English Morphology And Expressive Power

Just a few weeks prior, a friend of mine had been shopping at Trader Joe’s market when he happened upon an elderly woman who was browsing red wine, looking like quite the connoisseur. He decided to ask her about one of the reds. “Oo yes, that one is QUITE… titillating,” she replied with a sly grin, before winking at him as she strolled away.

He called me on the phone in a panic, half laughing, and half crying, suffering from what appeared to be a condition similar to PTSD. It would take him months before he got over the image of the winking, titillating old woman who had psychologically scarred him with her abrupt accostment of suggestive English in a public setting.

In the world of linguistics (and computer programming), there is a concept known as “Expressive power” to denote which languages can communicate the widest variety of concepts and ideas. And while the debate continues – with many linguists pointing out the lack of consistent logic in English, etc – the truth remains that English is exceptionally expressive and has evolved more than any language in world history.

Take the word douche for example. Born in Latin as ductus meaning “leading”, it was shuffled into Italian as docciare which means “pouring” or “dripping” and later doccia referring to “piping” or “conduit.” Continue on to the 18th century as French began using douche to mean “shower” and English-speakers began repeating it, despite ALSO having the English word duct which ALSO evolved directly from Latin ductus.

That’s right, b*tch. We’ll take douche… AND ductus too.

Now, according to Google Books’ historic Ngram viewer of word usage, the word douche reached peak usage around 1900. From then on, the word continued to drop in usage, reaching a low point in 1992 that hadn’t been witnessed since the early 1800s.

But wait just a second! you might say. At the turn of the new millennium, around the year 2000, the word douche suddenly started to grow in usage again for the first time after nearly a century of dramatic decline. Da f*ck… you guys?

Thank the internet.

We Will Rock (Your Morphological Typology)

Give us the word douche, and we’ll give you back douchebag. Bam! Compound language. Or perhaps douchebaggery. Pow! Agglutinating language.

Or if we are feeling adventurous, we might make sh*t up on the fly, like when Stephen Colbert announced to a live television audience he had indeed twatted before, as a past participle of tweeting. Zap! Fusional language, with a touch of sarcasm.

While most languages have a variety of morphologies, modern English, spurred on by the rapid growth of the internet and a simple phonetic alphabet – would seem to almost purposefully devour new styles. In turn, our minds connect the invisible dots between various words and expressions, creating an apparent level of dirty connotation and Freudian evocation unseen in other languages. An old lady says titillating, and we think… of titties. When in fact, titillate comes from Latin titillat meaning “tickled”, and tits – referring to breasts or nipples – originated separately from German and Dutch. (Um, that may have just made it worse. By the way, titillating is enjoying record popularity.)

Contrast this complexity with translating douchebag to Chinese – one of the most “isolating” languages in the world – which, after translation, means “evil stick” (LMAO). And while saying (惡棍) in Chinese does apparently have modern connotation – being used in the title of Inglorious Basterds for Chinese audiences, for example – there is a clear lack of etymological depth, and in turn, not much dirtiness.

Listen as Jack Wagner, the original voice announcer at the Disneyland park in California, grammatically dissects the word F*CK on tape, several decades ago:

If you’re truly interested in English linguistic history, here’s a free eBook. But suffice it to say that the bastardized history of English has provided us with serious entertainment.

Dirtiest Words In The English Language

So, what’s a dirty word then? Any word, perhaps, that subtly evokes disgusting, sexual, or otherwise shocking or unpleasant images or associations. Without further ado, here are the most disgusting words in the English language. (Please comment with more.)

anal • anis • angina pectoris • back-hoe • baste • bolus • buboe • bulge • burgle • burst • caress • caucus • cesspool • cleft • chafing (chafe) • chum • clog • cockamamie • cockpit • coitus • concoct • crampon • creamy • crevice • crotch • crusty • cul-de-sac • cumquat • custard • dangle • diarrhea • dipthong • discharge • dongle • douche • dribble • drizzle • Dukakis • ejaculate • excretion • fallacious • finger • flaccid • flagellate • flexible • foist • fondle • fundus • gaping • genitalia (along with all specific types of genitalia) • gesticulate • gurgle • gyrate • hoist • invagination • jam • jiggling • juices • lambaste • limber • limp • loin • lube (lubricate) • luster • manhandle • masticate • matriculate • meat probe wipes • moist • nestle • oblong • ogle (ogling) • ointment • paginate • panties • penetrate • penile • pleasure • poke • pony • pop • poppycock • pouch • prematurely • probe • protrude • pulchritudinous • quiver • receptacle • regurgitate • rigid • rub • sack • saggy (sag, sagging) • saturated • scrofula • secretion (secrete) • shaved lunch meats • sloppy • smear • smegma • snorkel • soggy • spew • splurge • spoon • sprocket • squat (squat-thrust) • squirt • sticky • stroke • succulent • suck • suckle • supple • swallow (swallowed, swallowing) • swollen • taint • taint-squat • taught • tender • tenderloin • throbbing • thrust • tidbits • tight • titillate (titillating) • tutelage • tubercle • undulate • vacillate • wet • whack

Originally published December 18, 2009, as inspired by the original Facebook group.

Dental Insurance: ‘Scam’ Or Not, Why You Probably Don’t Need It And How It Often Leads To Problems

Going to the dentist is a necessity. But dental insurance? Not so much.

Dental insurance is a relatively recent consumer phenomenon that exists primarily in North America. The industry sprang up almost completely overnight due to large American companies who decided to begin offering dental insurance as an extra benefit to their employees, in the hopes of looking more attractive. In fact, Delta Dental is almost single-handedly responsible for creating the dental insurance industry back in the 1960s, when they began partnering with labor unions, military and government organizations, and private corporations, in order to offer dental coverage plans.

In contrast with other developed countries – such as those in Europe – dental insurance in the U.S. is completely separate from health insurance, and is considered an “add-on” benefit that many American employers offer in conjunction with their health insurance, but usually under a different brand. For example, a company may have “group coverage” health insurance for their employees through the Blue Cross / Blue Shield network, and might offer additional dental coverage through an organization like Delta Dental. In many cases, employers offer dentals plans BUT DON’T COVER THEIR COST, meaning that its an out of pocket monthly fee passed on to their employees.

Despite there being no such thing as “vision insurance” or “chiropractic insurance” in existence, the self-created, industry-driven anomaly that is dental insurance continues to grow bigger (and seedier) with each passing year. And unless you’re an MMA fighter, cocaine addict, or have a rather large family, buying dental insurance is almost always a waste of time and money.

Monthly Payments Exceed Typical Costs

Many people have unreasonable expectations of insurance; they believe that by paying into an insurance plan, all of their visits to the doctor, dentist, or otherwise should be free of charge. Not so. The main purpose of insurance is to protect you in case of an emergency which may land you with massive bills – for example, breaking your leg.

Ergo: unless your lifestyle presents serious risks to your oral well-being, 99% of people only need a basic dental cleaning a few times a year, meaning that separate dental insurance is rarely a necessity. In fact, even if you HAD a “dental emergency” the truth is that its probably not even covered by your dental insurance (see more information below). Even the U.S. Senate is contributing to dental insurance alarmism, due to the fact that Medicaid holders do not get dental coverage. Bullsh*t. Even if more people DID get dental insurance, it wouldn’t save most of them any cash at the end of the year because the monthly bills usually exceed out-of-pocket costs…

On average, the maximum annual payouts from dental insurance plans are only $500-2,000 per year, a figure which hasn’t changed since the 1970s. Adjusted for inflation, dental insurance plans should be paying out between $4,000-8,000 a year by now, according to MarketWatch.com. Instead, payouts remain minimal, while typical monthly fees of $30-60 per person add up to $360-720 per year in real costs, yet somehow only tend to cover 2 free basic cleanings each year. Oh, and if you want any “special” dental work done, such as implants, crowns, or other work, dental insurance plans typically won’t even cover those items until a few years into your coverage – and even then, it only covers 50% of certain procedures, OR LESS, in many cases.

Open Invitation For Insurance Fraud

Now, I know what some of you are probably thinking: “Well, maybe dental insurance is a ripoff… but I get it free/cheap from my employer, so I might as well keep it.” But even when insurance is FREE, it invites massive consumer fraud that comes with any other type of insurance. Except, for some reason, dentists seem especially prone to it:

As a clueless young college graduate in California, I myself was a victim of “deep cleaning” fraud. At the time, I had Kaiser Permanente (HMO) health insurance with a Delta Dental add-on coverage package. Scanning the Kaiser online database for an “in-network” dentist, I showed up to their office for a basic cleaning when the dentist convinced me that my gums were unhealthy and that I needed immediate scaling to be done. She assured me that it would be mostly covered by my insurance, and tried to schedule me for a total of 3-4 additional visits to her office. After the 2nd visit, I attempted to ask her what would be done at the 3rd visit. She became angry and shouted at me that she “was done talking to me” and would “see me at my next scheduled appointment.” Well, needless to say, I didn’t return to her office, and soon figured out she was attempting to overbill my insurance plan on root planing procedures that I didn’t even need!

Besides the obvious risks to your own personal health, these shockingly common practices can also have the side effects of exhausting your annual payout limits and increasing your dental premium payments, among several other outrageous situations.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that companies like AFLAC, Delta Dental, and Encore Dental are regularly called out on the internet for their dishonest sales pitches, in which they promise customers things like free dental cleanings, coverage of advanced procedures like crowns and implants, and other false advertising that is ultimately a complete scam.

Finding A Dentist Becomes More Difficult

T. M. Bridgeland, a writer at HubPages who used to work in customer service for dental insurance companies, explains why in the end, finding a dentist is MORE complicated AFTER you have insurance (something I also experienced):

There are lots of details, of course, such as In Network or Out Of Network dentists. In Net means the dentist is under contract not to charge over a certain fee for each service. In Net is usually cheaper. So get your routine work done In Net, and normally you will pay very little or nothing for it. You may also get reduced prices on major work.

Out Of Network dentists’ charges are not controlled by the insurance company or the network. The dentist can charge any price he pleases. Some Out Of Network dentists may actually charge less than the network price, and be cheaper for you than In Network. You have to do your homework before going to the dentist. Find out if he is In Net or Out Of Net, and ask him directly how much it will cost before you go. They don’t like to tell you, but you are the customer. Be polite, but insist. Would you get a haircut if the prices were not marked?

As in the case with many doctors, dentists who have built a business model around getting a stream of customers directly from an insurance network are highly unpredictable as far as quality and honesty goes. And why should they be? They don’t give a damn about customer satisfaction or even Yelp reviews, because they will keep getting more business from being one of the only “in network” dentists in their area.

That is, dental insurance is getting you a dentist who relies less on reputation, is probably charging more for their services than others, and is possibly committing some form of insurance fraud on a regular basis.

Ultimately, it makes more sense in most cases to simply put a few hundred dollars away in a “dentist” fund each year for basic cleanings. Then, find a local dentist with a good reputation and reasonable prices who doesn’t require $500 worth of “mandatory x-rays” before you can get your teeth cleaned.

If you have a large family, or members of your family will be needing braces or significant orthodontic work, however, it may still be worthwhile to check out family dental insurance plans. (As with any medical insurance, watch out for pre-existing conditions, such as missing teeth, that are usually not covered.)

Or better yet, check out one of the many new “dental discount plans” that are popping up all over the place, which typically have a low yearly membership fee in exchange for greatly discounted dental procedures in your area.

Kid Smoking Experiment: How A Young Boy Asking For Cigarettes Makes Smokers Re-think Their Habits

“Can I have a light?” asks a young boy to strangers in Santa Barbara, California.

The boy – a 9-year old known only as ‘Jensen’ – is undercover, mind you. But rather than working with local police as part of a sting operation, he’s the star of the latest public prank video filmed by the /whatever crew on YouTube.

In the video, Jensen is seen approaching various people who are smoking cigarettes in public places, asking them to borrow a lighter. In one case, a man recommends that he visit a nearby drugstore for a “free pack of matches.” But in nearly every other case shown on the piece, the smokers react in shock at his request, and some even attempt to grab his pack of cigarettes away from him.

Though the experiment starts off on a lighter note, it quickly becomes clear there is perhaps a deeper message involved this time around.

“You shouldn’t be smoking,” says one man to the boy. “I started when I was seven years old. I wish I never would have started this, man. Cuz I can’t quit.” Becoming more concerned, he addresses the boy further, “You shouldn’t even have those. In fact, let me have those! You shouldn’t be smoking at all. Period.”

The anti-smoking stunt has already been compared online to this commercial from Thailand that employed a similar child-actor setup, among perhaps numerous others such as the U.S. based TRUTH campaign from the early 2000s.

The prank received a nice boost in attention after Ashton Kutcher shared the video on Facebook. Kutcher, who used to smoke up to 40 cigarettes a day according to some blogs, allegedly stopped his habit with the help of an increasingly popular book by Allen Carr, a self-confessed former chain smoker, called The Easy Way To Stop Smoking.

The /whatever team is a running favorite of CollegeTimes. You can also check our coverage of their Reverse Prostitute prank in Amsterdam and their holiday piece with Santa Claus picking up college chicks. The group often focuses on psychology-oriented social experiments that question the status quo.

Clover Park Technical College : South Hill

Teachers Unions: No Matter How You Try To Slice It, They Are Corrupt, Self-Serving, And Hypocritical

Teachers unions are vile, self-serving rackets, plain and simple.

Despite what public school teachers in the U.S. (and elsewhere) would have you believe, their primary concern is not for “students” when they march, rally, and protest aggressively for higher wages, more benefits, and longer holidays.

In theory, teachers unions offer democratic representation on behalf of thousands of schools, teachers, and students, resisting the sway of local and national governments and powerful corporations – all of which lobby for their own interests.

In practice, however, corrupt union leaders that are hell-bent on influencing political processes by any means possible – and local coordinators that intimidate and harass teachers or politicians that do not fall in line and support union goals – reveal these rather shameful organizations for what they truly are: out of control monstrosities obssessed more with politics than “teaching” that are intent on decreasing teachers’ accountability and increasing their free handouts.

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black

Now, please don’t get me wrong: I am NOT against unions. And before anyone calls me out for blindly linking to the extremely anti-union National Right To Work Committee (above) in order to make a point, please… continue reading.

Is the NRTWC biased toward corporate America? Most definitely. But are millions of Americans abandoning their support for labor unions in recent decades simply because of corporate propaganda? That’s surely a bit delusional, to say the least. Rather, the truth is that Americans overwhelmingly prioritize individual freedom, which is why they often support the idea of unions despite less and less citizens actually joining them.

Teachers unions are not resisting evil corporate forces. In fact, they are so obviously self-serving that creating external enemies to justify their own existence seems to have become a necessity in recent years, which is why “corporations” have become the newly-sung enemy. And even if there was a big bad corporate conspiracy – which I will debunk later – since when did fighting evil with evil become respectable?

Those that follow CollegeTimes know how much we hate for-profit scam colleges and the attempt by Wall Street investors to hijack higher education in order to line their pockets with taxpayer money. But that’s just the thing: corruption and waste are just as shameful regardless of their source, and teachers unions are just as easily guilty of both.

Despite liberal-leaning alarmists arguing that teachers unions are endangered or that right-to-work legislation is destroying the very structure needed to keep unions in existence, the reality is that national teachers unions still wield an extraordinary amount of political power – and that’s not going away anytime soon.

Theoretically Good, Realistically Awful

One of the only cohesive arguments I’ve ever read in support of teachers unions was written by Erik Kain, a writer over at Forbes who usually covers video games, of all things. Cohesive, because Kain is able to present a relatively fair view of the issue supported by specific events – but ultimately, a rather ambiguous stance that lacks realism.

And that’s a recurring theme among supporters of teachers unions: either focusing purely on how corporations are trying to take over public education (an argument which has really only existed at the pre-college level since Common Core standards and charter schools became prevalent), or repeating that unions have historically provided a defense against things like low wages or poor working conditions (an argument which hasn’t really held water for at least half a century). Alternatively, supporters desperately claim things like “teachers unions create more equal opportunity” for poor children to attend college, among other feel-good, two-faced ridiculous arguments.

TL;DR: Never ANY mention of lazy-ass teachers ditching class for the free pizza.

As teachers unions run out of justifiable reasons to exist, the “corporate takeover” of public education has become the new (and only) battle cry. Activists (on tenure) literally argue that education foundations run by the likes of Microsoft and Amazon are only supporting charter schools so that in the future, they can get their education technology products into classrooms and make millions of dollars from young children. Now, I love a good conspiracy theory, but what in the flying f*ck?

As such highly-esteemed educators, how do you ignore the hard data that proves charter schools are not only sending more low-income Americans to college, but are also improving their ability to make healthy life decisions. And not that I have any stake in the matter, but if Bill Gates is such an evil corporate dictator, why did the largest teachers unions aggressively support Common Core, right up until they realized the standardized curriculum could be used to evaluate the quality of teachers?

Even teachers that publicly admit that unions cause serious problems – such as protecting incompetent or even child-molesting teachers from being fired – still seem to think they ultimately deserve more free handouts than other American citizens:

“The elimination of tenure would allow a principal to arbitrarily dismiss a teacher for any reason, even if that teacher is the most skilled and competent in the school. Such reasons might include something as trivial as a mere personality conflict or the adminstrator’s own personal and subjective opinions about the teacher’s performance. Teachers would be afraid to “blow the whistle” on a corrupt principal or administrator for fear of being fired. I can tell you that it would be very difficult for me to give my full attention to teaching the children if I were consistently worrying in the back of my head whether or not I would have a job the next year to pay my bills and support my own kids. Still, the fact remains that tenure does protect some pretty LOUSY teachers, but completely eliminating it would be even more disastrous for our students. I would also suggest that in my exprience, tenure and unions are not the only reasons why so many incompetent teachers remain in the clasroom. Often, the school principal is also to blame by not properly documenting a teacher’s deficiencies, as well as top school district administrators who will not support principals who choose to take steps to have an incompetent teacher dismissed.”

Casey Gagnon, public school teacher, via Amazon.com

Oh, no! Without unions or tenure, public school teachers would actually have to prove to their colleagues why they are a valuable member of their team? Well Jesus H. Christ, welcome to the real world. And if “blowing the whistle” on illegal conduct is your true concern, you apparently haven’t researched the relevant protection statutes.

Some Of The Dirtiest Politics In America

Teachers unions are among the largest and most powerful unions in the entire country. The National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – the two largest, which are both over 100 years old – have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years in contributions to political groups and organizations such as La Raza, and figures such as the Reverand Al Sharpton. The Wall Street Journal reports:

The AFT, which told the Labor Department it had more than 873,000 members last fiscal year, said it is “committed to investing in organizations that share our mission and goals of expanding the middle class, building strong public schools, promoting equality and creating educational and economic opportunities for all Americans.”

The federation added that unions make their contributions public, “unlike big corporations that are able to secretly spend millions on their extreme agenda.” Unions must publicly detail and categorize all expenses annually under rules put in place by President George W. Bush.

The NEA’s advocacy center director, Kim Anderson, said, “Since 1857, the NEA has had a proud history of advocating for social justice and developing programs to help children, the poor and marginalized, and American workers—long before we ever got involved in politics.”

Did you catch that? The NEA and AFT are shamelessly whining to national media that they are forced to disclose their political contributions, before reminding readers that back in the 19th century, unions helped fight for social justice. Got it? Okay good.

And before you I HEART MY TEACHER! well-wishers and Occupy Wallstreeters write this off as a simple-minded tirade with a sensationalized headline, watch this quick video on the workings of teachers unions put together by Evan Coyne Maloney:

In conclusion, if teachers unions were simply an organized attempt at protecting teachers from getting inappropriately fired or overworked, why have they consistently ranked as a top political donor to politicians for the last several decades? Because their goal is to turn the teaching profession into a gravy train career path free of accountability or hard work, with lower expectations and excessive benefits.

As history has shown, labor unions always resist changes in technology and the workplace. But they always lose the fight. Stubborn, enraged, selfishness combined with immoral – and often illegal – behavior is downright shameful, and it’s destroying the quality of America’s education system. But the tide is finally turning, and with it, hopefully the political clout of teachers unions will be a thing of the past.

Lol My Thesis: The Facetious Tumblr Blog Offering Anonymous Online Sympathy To College Students

If you had to sum up your college research in one sentence, what would you say?

That is precisely the question asked by Lol My Thesis, a minimalistic online blog that posts one-sentence synopses of academic accomplishments as submitted by anonymous college students from across the U.S. (and beyond). And in good faith of all that is the internet, these scholarly one-liners are anything but self-patronizing.

Fringe Thesis Topics In Layman’s Terms

The curt, often self-deprecating summaries of academic achievement found on the site provide an intriguingly accurate reflection of the times we now live in; a time in which Millennial college grads find themselves with massive student loan debt, over-educated yet peculiarly under-employed – or more probably, not employed at all.

Launched in December 2013 by Angela Frankel, a senior at Harvard College, the LMT blog has grown tremendously in less than a year. Frankel, who studies Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, says she initially started the simple project “as a means of procrastination” from her own thesis, in which she researches the “regulation of second heart field progenitor cells in zebrafish.”

Or, as she posted on Lol My Thesis, “I have killed so many fish.”

The project’s been jokingly referred to as the TL;DR of college theses, and earlier this year, Frankel encountered an onslaught of media coverage after the blog went viral among undergraduates, and eventually, graduate and PhD students as well. As of today, a total of 2,640 submissions have been published, from as far away as Poland and Pakistan.

Here’s a quick sampling of the intellectual delights:

No one has any idea what the hell is going on, but it may or may not be motivated by religion.

Political Science, University of California, Berkeley

This one part of some protein sometimes does a thing nobody thought it did, but only at -80 C and under high vacuum. Biological applications questionable.

Chemistry, Brown University

LSD makes people feel weird. Maybe for these reasons.

Experimental Psychology, Oxford

If an orchestra wants to make money, it has to play the Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber stuff of the classical music. Unless you are rich and important like BSO, SFO or NYP, then you can experiment with weird shit and people still buy your tickets – well, usually old people anyways.

Economics, Williams College

Why did the samurai disembowel himself? To show that he had guts! But seriously, that pun has great symbolic meaning in Japanese.

East Asian Studies / Philosophy, Columbia University

Oh God Kill Me Now Why Did I Ever Choose to Linguistically Analyze Argentinean Cowboy Epic Poetry from the 1870s

Spanish, Truman State University

I wanted to write about hipsters, but my major was in Medieval Studies, so instead I wrote 60 pages about beat poets.

Interdisciplinary Studies, Gettysburg College

With a sarcastic, jaded bite that perhaps runs prevalent among internet-age netizens, LMT can get admittedly depressing the longer you click the ‘random‘ button.

“The thesis writing process can be extremely isolating and produce a lot of self-doubt along the way,” Frankel told USA Today. “You work on one project for so long and oftentimes people speak with their advisers fairly infrequently. You may feel you’re behind or that your project is not living up to others. On the blog, you see other people are experiencing similar challenges or having similar doubts.”

Although, perhaps “doubts” is an understatement.

Campus Explorer Attempts To Coerce CollegeTimes Into Compliance Contract For For-Profit Colleges

PHOTO: This shady, unmarked office building in Santa Monica, California is the headquarters location of Campus Explorer at 2850 Ocean Park Blvd. The lack of transparency at their headquarters seems to reflect a larger corporate culture of deceit, fraudulent student recruiting, and promotion of for-profit colleges.

If you are one of the people that innocently believe the internet has brought more transparency and consumer protection to the American economy, this story’s for you.

Last week, investor-backed Campus Explorer from California contacted CollegeTimes to inquire about advertising. In and of itself, a completely normal happening – that is, until they demanded that we sign a compliance contract protecting their for-profit college “clients” from things like unapproved content (criticism) and traffic sources.

Whoa, what?

Note: the contract is publicly available at this URL.

Big Business Of Student Lead Generation

As the Explorer team were quick to point out, “contract negotiation” is a normal thing in the business world. True. But what’s not normal is pretending to be a website that helps high school students discover the college that best matches their interests, when your real goal is aggressively pushing them into unaccredited, for-profit scam colleges – and then shopping around for bloggers to help you with that mission.

For several years, I had been under the impression that Campus Explorer was something of a mixed bag in the ‘higher education industry’ of America. I believed (erroneously) that their business model revolved mainly around scholarships and financial aid services, lacking the vast corruption of similar companies (i.e. College Prowler).

I was wrong. Here’s a quote from the Explorer team:

“We were initially fine with [CollegeTimes], but once we discovered the UGC [User Generated Content] and numerous negative reviews of our partner [for-profit] schools, it became something we just couldn’t participate in.” – Campus Explorer via email

Pushing for a clarification, I told Explorer that I had noticed in CollegeTimes’ traffic logs that their staff had only browsed campuses currently owned by Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (facing mass lawsuits from the federal government for committing fraud) and the University of Phoenix (currently on accreditation probation). “Are those the only types of colleges that Campus Explorer recommends to their visitors?” I asked via email, “because somehow nearly every for-profit college in your database has zero negative reviews or is blocked from accepting reviews.”

In short, the Explorer team unashamedly confirmed that providing for-profit colleges with student leads is in fact their biggest purpose, and that censoring negative reviews of for-profit college profiles on their own website and on those of their publishing partners is part of their business model:

“…we are required to protect the brands we represent (pay us for leads and clicks), just as any traffic/lead generator would. Our business model at the moment is focused primarily on for-profit schools, although we do send leads to traditional schools at no charge… In the process of doing our due diligence, we discovered that this wouldn’t be something we could sustainably engage in, so we decided to back away. If we were guilty of anything here in regards to this relationship, it was being overzealous, and not thoroughly researching the content of your pages before we began the IO process; for that I apologize.”

The sales rep, and her supervisor that chatted with us for the past week, were extremely courteous and I’m not going to mention their names. Clearly, they weren’t aware that CollegeTimes hates for-profit colleges before they contacted us. But when I finished by saying that I noticed they were partnered with StudentsReview – the only other major college review site that is NOT controlled by corporate investors, and who ALSO does not censor negative reviews of for-profit colleges – they seemed at a loss for words:

“In regards to Studentsreview, we will dig into this matter. If they indeed have those negative reviews, we’ll need to make the necessary adjustments.”

Update 10/5/2014: Campus Explorer appears to have pulled all of their advertising from StudentsReview.com after the CollegeTimes team pointed out that their site also accepts negative student reviews of for-profit colleges.

It’s official: corporate America has no shame.

To Those Working At Lead-Gen Companies

Now, do I really believe that the sales rep and her supervisor (who I’m not going to out, because they were just doing their job), had some wicked secret plan to take down CollegeTimes after we signed some compliance contract? Of course not.

But in an age of fine print and lawsuits, it sure presents an interesting case. Take, for the example, the possibility that Campus Explorer decided to file a lawsuit due to breach of contract in an attempt to get negative student reviews taken down from CollegeTimes. Sound far fetched? Not when you consider the half-dozen for-profits that have already sued or threatened to sue our team.

Lead generation is not an inherently immoral business by any means. On the other hand, lead generation for unaccredited for-profit colleges that commit rampant fraud, waste billions of dollars of taxpayer money, while paying off public officials to play along, all the while screwing over millions of students, most definitely IS.

And based on all the low-income black people leaving mixed reviews of Explorer on Facebook – not to mention their shady, unmarked headquarters office (seen above) located in Santa Monica – it would seem that their executive team is well aware of the lack of value they bring to society with their current business model.

Or, as one of their former employees put it:

“There seemed to be a company held view that people worked hard to get in management, therefore they should be allowed to do whatever they want… they seemed to expect something from lower employees that they were not doing themselves, and did not provide the best example for lower employees to follow.” – former Campus Explorer employee

It would seem Campus Explorer feels the same way about college admissions.

Update 4/19/2015: After yet another former Campus Explorer employee commented to both CollegeTimes (below) and GlassDoor that serious corruption, harassment, and “fudged numbers” were a part of the corporate culture, it appears that management has decided to spam multiple “positive” reviews of the company in reaction. This comes just a few months after Campus Explorer acquired Vantage Media’s education business in a secret deal, the latest in a string of venture capital transactions involving the company.

Student Loan Default: A Complete List Of Horrible Consequences That Arise When You Let It Happen

Quick! Write this on your bathroom mirror:

I will not default on my student loans. I will not default on my student loans.

Actually, write it down all over the place, and burn it deep into your brain. Why? Because if you learned absolutely nothing from your college education, at least retain this:

Defaulting on your student loans is one of the worst possible things you can do for your future well-being, personal finances, and reputation. Period.

Student Loan Debt Taking Over America

According to projectstudentdebt.org, 71% of all students graduating from 4-year colleges in the U.S. in 2012 had student loan debt. And, as recently pointed out by Mother Jones, the cost of going to college has risen 12 times for Millennial Americans compared to what the previous generation paid for school. At this point, it would safe to say that student loan debt in the United States is officially a catastrophe.

In fact, student loan debt has become so out of control that it now surpasses the total amount of credit card AND auto loan debt in the United States. To make matters worse, the lingering effects of the Great Recession have continued to create a horrible job outlook for graduates, which in turn has pushed millions of Americans to make the tragic decision of defaulting on their student loans.

And as you’ll see below, there are few things in America that have such drastic negative consequences – both personally and financially – as defaulting on your student loans.

Defaulting On Student Loans = Nightmare

Ever since the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law, there are absolutely no types of student loans – neither government nor private loans – that can be discharged by simply filing for bankruptcy. In other words, even if you file for bankruptcy in a desperate attempt to get rid of your student loan payments, it will not work 99% of the time.

(In fact, filing for bankruptcy can actually cause MORE problems when combined with student loan default – but that is a topic best reserved for another article.)

According to Hampshire College financial aid office:

If you are late making your Direct loan monthly payments, your loan will be considered to be delinquent. Delinquencies on your Direct loan payments are reported to national credit bureaus after being 60 days late. After 240 days of being delinquent, the entire loan, including interest, becomes due immediately and in full. Loan default occurs after one is 270 days late. Having defaulted on your loan means that you have abandoned your responsibility to repay the loan.

Below is an exhaustive list of negative consequences that can happen to you as a result of defaulting on your federal OR private student loans:

In conclusion… DO NOT default on your student loans! (Try this instead)

Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center

Southeastern Louisiana University : St. Tammany Center

How To Legally Get Out Of Paying Back Your Federal Student Loans To Avoid Defaulting Or Bankruptcy

Student loan debt is crushing the American middle class.

In fact, the total amount of debt from student loans in the United States is now greater than credit card debt AND auto loan debt – and it’s growing, quickly.

A recent study by Mother Jones concluded that for the Millennial generation alone, the cost of going to college has risen 12 times compared to what the previous generation paid for school. And with the days of the Great Recession far from over, as the United States and other countries continue to suffer from the effects of the 2007-2008 financial crisis (not to mention the large number of foreign immigrants with U.S. jobs), the amount of jobs available to today’s college graduates are slim to none.

With poor job prospects and a massive amount of debt, American 18-34 year olds are often without health insurance, a decent salary, a decent credit score, let alone any way to be approved for a housing mortgage. In this environment, millions have inadvertently defaulted on their student loan payments, creating massive problems for their future as they face bankruptcy and a ruined credit score.

Whatever You Do, Avoid Defaulting On Loans

In the United States, defaulting on your student loans is one of the worst things you can do to yourself. Not only does it destroy your credit score, but the IRS could garnish your wages or tax refunds for decades in order to pay back your loans, among dozens of other possible nightmares. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans do not seem to be aware of the very simple and easy way to STOP their student loan payments.

And even though the predatory nature of student loans means that declaring bankruptcy does not usually absolve you from having to pay off your student loans in full, there is still an easy way to stop your loan payments during times of financial hardship. And whether you are working part-time at Costco, living with your parents, or even teaching English abroad, there’s a strong chance it will apply to you.

And the real kicker? It’s a PDF form that only takes 5 minutes to complete.

Like most forms drafted by federal government agencies, it has a ridiculously long and confusing name: Income-Based (IBR) / Pay As You Earn / Income-Contigent (ICR) Repayment Plan Request. Or in plain English:

Dear government, I have no f*cking money. Nor do I have a high-paying job. Please stop or greatly reduce my monthly student loan payments, until I’m rich. Sincerely, Poor College Graduate Living In A Country Controlled By Corrupt Politicians And Wall Street Bankers.

It doesn’t matter who your student loan servicer is, because they are all forced to abide by federal guidelines that allow borrowers to stop payments at any time under the right conditions. And while some private servicers (i.e. Sallie Mae) will try to confuse the sh*t out of you about those conditions, its actually quite simple. Anytime your monthly salary (i.e. part-time job) is low enough, you simply attach a copy of your salary contract or recent pay stub, send in the below PDF form, and wait a few days for approval. In most cases, the IBR (Income-Based Repayment) is the simplest option, and you’ll usually qualify for $0 in monthly payments if your salary is somewhere around $20,000 or less. The newer “Pay As You Earn” option has been strongly endorsed by President Obama and usually sets your monthly loan payments at about 10% of your monthly income.

Note: If you have difficulty understanding this form, simply download the PDF and then call your loan servicer on the phone and tell them you require help filling it out.

Aichi Shukutoku University : Hoshigaoka

West Coast Ultrasound Institute : Phoenix

West Coast Ultrasound Institute : Beverly Hills

Dutch Student Fakes 5-Week Travel Holiday To Asia Using The Power Of Photoshop And Social Media

If you hate seeing all those adventurous photos your friends post on Facebook while you sit at work trying to scrape money together for dinner, this story’s for you.

Zilla van den Born, a college student from the Netherlands, faked an exotic trip to Southeast Asia for five solid weeks, under the stated guise of a “university project” – without ever leaving her hometown of Amsterdam. Purposefully tricking all of her friends and family members, the only person who knew the truth was her boyfriend, who happened to be in on the elaborate prank.

zilla-van-den-born-1

The story broke in English on GapYear, a website dedicated to helping college students plan working and traveling holidays – often called “gap years” in the U.K. – who quoted van den Born as she explained her social experiment to the Dutch media:

“I did this to show people that we filter and manipulate what we show on social media, and that we create an online world which reality can no longer meet. My goal was to prove how common and easy it is to distort reality. Everybody knows that pictures of models are manipulated. But we often overlook the fact that we manipulate reality also in our own lives.”

For 42 days straight, van den Born posted photos and videos of herself online doing things you’d expect to see from a friend who is visiting Southeast Asia – from snorkeling in the ocean, to visiting a Thai Buddhist temple, to sitting next to a young Cambodian girl atop ancient Khmer ruins. She even completely decorated her room with Oriental furnishings so that she could have authentic-looking Skype conversations with her family.

zilla-van-den-born-room-1

Many of the scenes were indeed “real” experiences; however, the locations simply happened to be in Amsterdam. Her “snorkeling” adventure, for example, took place in her own backyard swimming pool, with a bit of Photoshop mixed in to superimpose tropical fish in the background. Even the Buddhist temple she posed at was a legitimate place – that just so happened to be located nearby her home.

zilla-van-den-born-temple-1

Van den Born, who studies graphic design, eventually revealed to her family and friends that they had been fooled, and of course, filmed their reactions. She released the below video series of the entire escapade, which shows exactly how she was able to create her exotic experiences using Photoshop tools (and a bit of social persuasion):

Of course, it makes you wonder if actually GOING to Asia for 5 weeks would have been a more worthwhile endeavor… I guess we’ll never know.

Fortis College : Cutler Bay

Fortis Institute : Fort Lauderdale

Fortis Institute : Jacksonville

Fortis College : Largo

Fortis Institute : Miami (Sunset Drive)

Fortis Institute : Miami (West Flagler Street)

Fortis Institute : Mulberry

Fortis Institute : West Palm Beach

Fortis College : Orange Park (Jacksonville)

Fortis Institute : Pensacola

Fortis Institute : Port St. Lucie

Fortis College : Tampa

Fortis College : Winter Park (Orlando)

Interview: Jeme Deviny, Former Neumont University Director Of Financial Services, Spills The Beans

Below is an exclusive CollegeTimes interview with L. J. Deviny, the former Financial Services Director at Neumont University, a for-profit technical institute based in Utah. Followers of CollegeTimes know that we’ve had several run-ins with Neumont over the past few years after we refused to remove negative student reviews posted on the school’s profile. After we refused to accept his bribes, Neumont’s CEO Edward “Ned” Levine threatened me and stalked my family members in California, before suing my web design company in federal court. I promised him that I would continue to expose his misdeeds for many years to come. Yesterday, a Neumont employee, Kristi Robertson, tragically died after recently losing her husband to cancer, and Deviny claims that Levine was responsible for pushing her beyond her limits. Despite being forced to sign a “stack of legal papers when they terminated me that I would not disclose what I knew”, Deviny decided to come forward to offer disturbing insight into the illegal business practices and bullying conducted by Mr. Levine. According to Deviny, he was fired on his 55th birthday because he “no longer possessed the ‘youthful vibrant image’ Neumont wished to portray to their students. I had hired Kristi so after they terminated me, there was no one to protect Kristi from Ned’s bullying and abuse.”

Update 9/12/2014: Less than 24 hours after this whistleblower interview was published, Neumont University CEO Ned Levine went into bully-mode and served Deviny with a lawsuit (that is, on Thursday evening, September 11, 2014). Developing…

How did you first come to work at Neumont University, how long did you stay, and what was the hiring process like? Are you a native of Utah, or a transplant, and briefly, what is your career background?

I was hired by the original CFO, Maurine Findley. Maurine and I had worked together previously. Northface hired a Director of Finance, Lisa Oakes-Gale, originally in 2004 when they began enrolling students. Lisa was not qualified for this position and within one year, they were in serious problems with late refunds and federal audits. Maurine contacted me January 2005 to come clean up the mess and get things back on track. I’m originally from Spokane, WA and moved to Utah for my career in 1990.

From my understanding, Neumont has shifted business strategies several times, including failed campus locations in Virginia, Rhode Island, and even Massachusetts. Who is behind all of these sporadic decisions?

The original President, Graham Doxey, wanted to start the campus in Virginia. Zoning problems led to the cancelled start but all of those students received 100% scholarships to the Utah campus. I thought that was extremely generous of the management at that time. The Doxey’s are outstanding people who treated others with respect and dignity. They took the expenses for their poor judgment in trying to have a location in Virginia and the students received a FREE education. But then Graham had to go and Ned was put in his place by the investors (Great Hills).

Ned wanted the campuses in Rhode Island and Massachusetts as this is where he is from. He spends most of his time in Rhode Island and not in Utah.

It sounds like the investors at Great Hill Partners were not amused by Doxey’s generosity. Do you know how or why they decided to hire Levine to run Neumont’s computer science programs, despite his only having a bachelor’s degree from an art school in Rhode Island?

I do not have knowledge on how Great Hill Partners came to hire Levine.

What was working at Neumont like with Ned Levine as President? A former student, Jason Aquino, claimed that Levine harassed him and other students at the school. Another student, Ryan Elkins, was “banned” from campus after starting a blog talking about some of his experiences at Neumont. The CollegeTimes team was also bribed and then threatened by Levine as well. Does Mr. Levine maintain a carrot/stick attitude with his employees? What did you witness happen to Kristi Robertson in particular?

Ned is an arrogant asshole and bully. The only way I was able to function was by the protection of the 2nd CFO, Thomas Bickart. Tom and I had an agreement that Tom would keep me safe from Ned. I don’t know how Tom did it, but Ned was not allowed to talk to me nor my staff, Alice Crutchley and Kristi Robertson. Alice was the Financial Aid Officer responsible for the incoming freshmen. Kristi was responsible for the continuing students. Ned hated me, Alice, and Kristi because we were hired by the Doxeys. Ned systemically eliminated all employees who were hired prior to his coming to Neumont. We did not have any pay raises for seven years although other employees (those Ned hired) regularly received increases. In the fall of 2012, Tom told me Ned was going to let Alice go (for no cause – her performance was outstanding for her entire length of employment). Alice was able to secure a financial aid officer position at ITT Tech in SLC and is still there.

Thomas Bickart resigned from Neumont in February 2013. At that time, I was told my employment was also terminated. I lost my protection from Ned. They paid Kristi Robertson a $5,000 bribe to stay at Neumont. Ned brought Nate Blanchart from the Admission department to the financial aid department. They demoted Kristi to a financial aid clerk. Nate only has a high school diploma and no financial aid background. Kristi had a Bachelor Degree and a decade in processing Title IV Federal Student Financial Aid. Still, Kristi, stuck it out in hopes to prove to Ned she was a valuable employee. In July 2014, Kristi’s fiancee’, Ron Capson, died while undergoing a bone marrow transplant to combat his reoccurring cancer. Neumont seemed to work with Kristi during this difficult time but two weeks ago, Kristi was notified they were terminating her employment. A new financial aid person began last week. Kristi was crushed to the core. She felt Neumont was kicking her while she was already down. Over this past weekend, Kristi went into a diabetic coma and now has no brain activity. Her family has decided to not prolong the pain and will take Kristi off of life support today.

In your opinion, was Ned Levine responsible for Kristi’s death, by firing her just weeks after her husband died from cancer and not giving her the respect and loyalty that perhaps she had given Neumont University?

Yes, most definitely.

You mentioned earlier being forced to sign several non-disclosure documents at the time of your termination. As Financial Services Director at Neumont, did you witness any blatantly illegal or immoral practices as far as recruiting, financial aid, under-qualified faculty, etc? Are Neumont’s claims of 100% employment and $60,000 average salary for graduates accurate?

Not under MY watch – another reason I had to go. I would NOT allow any illegal or unethical practices in financial aid. I also was responsible for signing off on the placement statistics. If you look very closely at all the *asterisks and small print, Neumont was sure to CYA. Obviously Jason Aquino didn’t get a job so that’s not 100%. The starting salary included travel, education benefits, and other costs. Many students that did not find employment with an employer where reported as self-employed – and of course those students would inflate their potential earnings. But as a whole – the great majority of students found fabulous employment at terrific wages. Ned would not accept any thing less than 100% from Career Services. Shawn Louenstock refused to falsify the reports, so of course, Shawn had to go, too.

Originally, Northface had a very prestigious well-qualified faculty. The current faculty mostly consists of Neumont graduates and minimally qualified staff.

As a “university” focused on “computer science” that lacks ABET and regional accreditation, it seems like Neumont has refined their target enrollment to go after “loner” types of high school students who love video games, which the L.A. Times referred to as a sort of “Geek Heaven”. Do you have any comments on that approach, or insight into Neumont’s acceptance rate?

I’m very surprised they have been allowed to retain the University distinction. Their Master’s program has been dark for about four years and they have no research being conducted at all. But accreditation with ACICS is pretty much a joke anyway when comparing Neumont to regionally accredited institutions. But I also have to state, the curriculum is EXTREMELY difficult and students without a solid math background and excellent time management skills are not able to keep up with the fast pace and withdraw. The acceptance criteria is more than a community college but substantially less than most four year State Institutions. The acceptance criteria changed each year much to the distress of the acceptance committee and the faculty.

Living and working in Utah, where the majority of residents are Mormon, would seem to be a unique experience. While Neumont has no official ties to the LDS church, our team has found it interesting that their founders, investors, board of directors, many faculty, and even their attorney, are Mormon. Did you witness anything to suggest a close connection between Neumont and well-connected members of the LDS community? Or, are the lines perhaps quite blurred in Utah because of LDS saturation?

It’s just Utah and LDS saturation. The Doxeys are active LDS but they NEVER brought their religion to the workplace. Unless you want to say being ethical, moral, honest, above reproach, treating others with dignity, respect, and kindness is a Mormon only thing :-)

Ned’s a Jew. And that’s not saying very much about the Jewish faith – IMHO.

From talking with you, clearly there ARE people in the for-profit industry who believe in honesty and do not support fraud (but they may not last long at some institutions). You have worked at multiple for-profit colleges, including ITT Tech. Looking back, has your opinion about for-profit higher education changed over the years? Currently, what do you believe?

Since May 2014, I now work for the Biomedical Informatics Department at the University of Utah. I am SO GLAD to be out of the rat race that is for-profit proprietary education. It’s a dog eat dog field with no winners. Not the students. Not the staff. And certainly no longer the share holders.

I’m sad to see the Gainful Employment Regulations defeated and not implemented. That would have put all the frauds out of business for good. Most of the fraudsters are now just switching to being a non-profit in order to side step the regulations.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my insights with you very much. It is helping me deal with Kristi’s abuse. I didn’t state this before but Kristi was a very large person, Alice needed major dental work, and I have strabismus (crossed eyes). These physical limitations did not impact our ability to do an outstanding job year after year. Ned has wrongfully terminated so many employees that refused to bend the rules or were old or not physically perfect. Jason Aquino was a very special student to me. I sent him job leads in CA. I really want Jason to be happy and successful. Please send him my regards if you speak to him, again.

Thank you for your time and best wishes to you always.

Interview: Wyatt Jozwowski, An Internet Marketing Whizz-Kid And Founder Of The CloudPBN Platform

Below is an exclusive CollegeTimes interview with Wyatt Jozwowski, an internet marketer who’s had an early start in the industry as a teenager. Over the last several years he has been known for his various digital marketing-related products including SEO Zen, ClickBank Atlas, and Video Vantage, as well as his long-time involvement with the Black Hat World forum. Recently, he launched a service called CloudPBN, a content marketing platform that helps websites generate backlinks, using a somewhat controversial strategy known as a private blog network (PBN).

So, briefly, where are you from and how did you get into internet marketing? I came across this interview you did as a 17-year old about your then-product ClickBank Atlas while you were still in high school – early start, huh?

I’m originally from a little town in Wisconsin; I moved to Atlanta when I was 14 right before high school started for me. As for internet marketing, I’ve always been interested the idea of it. I started with iPhone apps and selling on eBay but quickly progressed into online product creation. At the time of the (MikeFromMaine.com) interview, I had already dropped out of high school to pursue my entrepreneurial path.

Was dropping out of school a scary prospect for you at the time? Will you attend college? Do you have any significant business mentors, or any big influences in your life as far as your business mindset?

Dropping out of school was a bit scary at the time, but I knew that it wasn’t going to help me reach my goals. I made a decision and stuck with it. As of right now, I’m 18 years old; since I’ve dropped out of high school, the majority of my time has been spent focusing on my business. I don’t plan on attending college. Yes, of course my business mindset is influenced by those in my life; I try my best to surround myself with likeminded individuals and those who have what I want.

You’ve had a number of “affiliate” products over the years. Some critics of online affiliate marketers claim that they are only in the business for quick windfall profits propelled by hype, and that they don’t stick around for long after a product’s popularity wears off. How would you respond to that, especially in regard to your latest product, CloudPBN?

To be exact, I have 3 so called “affiliate” products. One of which was an eBook. The last software that I launched with old partners was “Video Vantage”. What I learned from this product was to never work with multiple partners on a launch. The product was brought to Devin and I – and we weren’t in charge with Development. Therefore, when the product launched, Google released an [algorithm] update quickly after and there was nothing we could do about it. How would I respond to that in regards to Cloud PBN? Well, considering Cloud PBN has only been live for a few days — the only thing that I can really comment on is my future plans. After launch week, the price is increasing to a monthly fee, and we will continue to add new features. Our plan (Me and the Development team) is to take this software to the next level and possibly relaunch down the road.

The SEO and “internet marketing” communities are notoriously skeptical, and sometimes seem to expect perfection. In the past week since you launched CloudPBN, a few blogger types have already accused you of things like “poor security” or simply replicating a free tool, i.e. MainWP, to make your product. In a world full of “experts” and “gurus” which of the criticism do you think is warranted, and which of it is simple jealously?

I prefer to not really go into detail about this; I don’t want to talk about any bloggers. With that being said, there hasn’t been any [CloudPBN] security issues. There was one footprint issue which we fixed 48 hours after launching – which I believe says something about our team. We work fast. We have a lot more features that are targeted specifically for PBN’s unlike MainWP. I could give you hundreds of positive testimonials that I’ve received in the past 72 hours… or, you could point out the few people that would like to talk the product down in order to self promote. However, whenever there is a launch of this size, it’s easy to get attention by talking [negatively] about the product – for obvious reasons. The same reason people blog about the iPhone when it’s released each year… it generates traffic.

Last month was Google’s 10 year anniversary. For years now, it seems the “authority” sites of the web have been determined: Facebook, YouTube, New York Times, etc. and its becoming harder and harder to perform traditional SEO and link-building, especially for small businesses, as webmasters wise up to competition and Google cracks down on over-optimization. Why is having a private blog network (PBN) such an effective alternative?

Authority does play a big role, which is why PBN’s work so great. To summarize, we’re picking up expired/aged or deleted domains that have some existing “authority”. Then, when we rebuild these sites and pass link juice to our “money” sites, it passes along that authority and trust. Instead of getting links from sites like the New York Times, we’re basically taking complete control with a private blog network. We’re setting up these powerful domains (that we’re in control of) and linking them to our money sites. It’s all about control. A smaller agency could take control, build their own PBN’s, and outrank/compete with their competition.

I believe you’ve been active on Warrior Forum for a while, correct? What other communities or resources would you recommend to newbie marketers looking to learn more about internet marketing products and strategies or to network with other like-minded individuals?

I haven’t really been active on Warrior Forum. However, I did get started on Blackhatworld.com, and I think it’s a great community. I would recommend it to anyone looking to get started with internet marketing. I [also] recently started my own brand/community called Drip Apps (search engine optimization & automation). You can learn more about what I teach at DripApps.com.

7. At what point would you consider yourself to have truly “made it” in internet marketing? Or have you already? What other careers or industries might you consider in the future? Lastly, what is the most important thing that people should know before trying to make money on the web?

There is still a TON of room for growth. Internet marketing is a very general term; what I do is just a small part of IM. In the future, I’d like to have my own large-scale software company – software that isn’t directly related to internet marketing.

The only advice that I would have for people who want to make money on the web would be to just take action and stay committed. The only real way to have success is to test yourself and find out what works.

You can follow Wyatt Jozwowski on Twitter or YouTube

Pratt MWP : Brooklyn

Frostburg State University : Online

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Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions of your life. Lucky for you, CollegeTimes is one of the only college review websites on the web that doesn’t accept bribes from for-profit scam schools. Plus, now that *our database is the largest collection of institutions on the entire web, you are sure to find the school you are looking for. Browse our international database by country or region, and order search results by name, highest rated, or most reviewed. You can also determine which types of degree programs each institution offers, along with each school’s statistics, campus map, and more.

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Humans Need Not Apply: A Sobering Look Into How Robots, Machine Automation Are Destroying Jobs

I suppose, in hindsight, it was just a matter of time.

Robots are officially taking over the world. And no, its not a conspiracy, or a drone army, or a machine uprising – its far more subtle than that. Automation machines are becoming so prevalent across so many industries that they are literally replacing the need for traditional human employees. That’s right: robots are taking your job.

Disappearing Need For Human Workers

The below video, ‘Humans Need Not Apply’ is the latest clip published by CGP Grey, a semi-anonymous internet personality who has built up a rather significant – if perhaps, underground – following over the past few years via Reddit, Twitter, and beyond, due to his fascinating videos that address a wide variety of interesting topics:

One of the key comparisons made in the video is to “Luddite” horses:

Horses aren’t unemployed now because they got lazy as a species, they’re unemployable. There’s little work a horse can do that do that pays for its housing and hay. And many bright, perfectly capable humans will find themselves the new horse: unemployable through no fault of their own.

In September 2013, a study conducted by Oxford University that examined over 700 occupations in the U.S. concluded that 47% of job positions would likely be automated by computers in some form within the next two decades. A similar study conducted in July by a Belgian think tank arrived at similar conclusion in regard to the European economy.

This Time, The Revolution Is Different

“This is an economic revolution. You may think we’ve been here before, but we haven’t. This time is different,” explains Grey in the video. In contrast with past industrial revolutions in human history, which effected low-skilled workers, the “robot” revolution has become so advanced, that now even white-collar workers and highly-educated professionals like doctors or attorneys are already being effected.

The 15 minute clip features Google’s self-driving cars, bots trading in the stock market, and even machines that can write their own classical music.

Bruce Kasanoff, writing for Forbes, reflects on “specialized” skills, quoting from the January 2014 book The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee:

“There’s never been a better time to be a worker with special skills or the right education, because these people can use technology to create and capture value. However, there’s never been a worse time to be a worker with only ‘ordinary’ skills and abilities to offer, because computers, robots and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary pace.”

Here’s what I know for sure: each of us is competing against commoditization. I don’t just mean each company or each industry. I mean each person. You. Me. Our roles are being commoditized, and commoditized roles will eventually be automated, because they must be done as cheaply as possible.

Only time will tell which “specialized” skills are safe from bots, if any at all. But one thing is for sure: no matter what your job or skill set of the future might be , it will – in some form or another – rely on machine automation. And that’s a fact.

Five-O: Teenagers Launch App Built To Monitor Police Brutality, Inform American Citizens Of Their Rights

Police brutality? There’s an app for that.

Three teenagers from Georgia have launched a mobile app called “Five-O” designed to record and document everyday encounters with local police. In turn, users are able to “rate” police behavior in any area of the United States, allowing the public to see how counties stack up in regard to the reputation of their law enforcement.

The app, designed by Caleb Christian, 14, and his two sisters – Ima, 16, and Asha, 15 – is already available on Android with an iOS version in the works. It enables not only reports of physical or verbal abuse by police offers, but also ratings for individual police officers using an A through F scale. Submissions can also include GPS coordinates (latitude and longitude) for future location reference of where “abuse” took place.

Although the team has been developing the app for several months, it is being officially released at a time when police brutality is a hot topic across the United States, especially because of widespread unrest taking place in Ferguson Missouri, which started largely due to the fatal shooting of 18-year Michael Brown. The highly militarized police response in Missouri has been criticized by libertarians and liberals alike.

In cases where further legal action is necessary, “Five-O” users can transfer recorded data to law enforcement officials. Speaking with Business Insider, Ima Christian said her siblings came up with the idea after hearing several reports of police brutality:

“We’ve been hearing about the negative instances in the news, for instance most recently the Michael Brown case, and we always talk about these issues with our parents,” she said. “They always try to reinforce that we should focus on solutions. It’s important to talk about the issues, but they try to make us focus on finding solutions. That made us think why don’t we create an app to help us solve this problem.”

However, the teens hope to bring attention to both the positive and negative encounters that police officers have with the public, commenting to BuzzFeed:

“We definitely want there to be a balance,” Ima said. “If someone has a positive interaction with the police… for example, an officer saved your cat, or was very courteous and professional, we want people to be able to document that too. We hope that law enforcement agencies with positive reviews can help by functioning as role models.”

The Christian siblings are no strangers to computer programming. Five-O is the third app released by the family trio under their development company, Pinetart Inc. Caleb, Ima, and Asha all recently participated in MIT’s App Inventor program, and continue to learn JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and Java.

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