Is Donald Trump selling reputation-based educations?

Is Donald Trump selling reputation-based educations?


It turns out, attending Donald Trump University might not be the best use of your education dollars.  Calling what appears to be more of a money making scheme a university might not be the best way to make money.  Easy money, for a while, but this venture may end up costing the business magnate more than he profits from it.

According to the AP, Trump’s so-called university may have been little more than a very expensive networking opportunity.  Here’s what they have to say:

New York’s attorney general sued Donald Trump for $40 million Saturday, saying the real estate mogul helped run a phony “Trump University” that promised to make students rich but instead steered them into expensive and mostly useless seminars, and even failed to deliver promised apprenticeships. … Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says many of the 5,000 students who paid up to $35,000 thought they would at least meet Trump but instead all they got was their picture taken in front of a life-size picture of “The Apprentice” TV star.

“Trump University engaged in deception at every stage of consumers’ advancement through costly programs and caused real financial harm,” Schneiderman said. “Trump University, with Donald Trump’s knowledge and participation, relied on Trump’s name recognition and celebrity status to take advantage of consumers who believed in the Trump brand.”

[highlight color=”yellow”]$35,000 for a photo of yourself standing next to a cardboard cutout of The Donald?[/highlight]  Why on earth would they feel that they’ve been taken advantage of?  Apparently, Mr. Trump thought he could help land his “students” jobs by simply giving them an association to him.  A very loose association, apparently, as the students didn’t even get to meet their educational institution’s namesake.

So now Donald Trump is being sued by New York for fraud.  Would calling his program something other than a “University” have helped?  While it is misleading, did these students really think that by handing over $35,000 to a non-accredited educational institution they would get somewhere?  Now that the scheme isn’t resulting in jobs, these students are angry, and feel that they’ve been taken advantage of.  Would they still feel this way if they’d have spent the same money to attend a Donald Trump backed seminar?  Maybe, especially if he hadn’t even bothered to make an appearance.

Mr. Trump (obviously) finds this whole lawsuit frivolous and silly, stating that it “could very well be a mini IRS” scandal.  He also mentioned on a TV appearance of “Fox and Friends” that suing his for-profit school may have been cooked up by the Obama administration.

While I find this whole thing ridiculous and silly, I’m not sure that I agree that it is worthy of a fraud suit.  Most people seeking an education do verify the credentials of the educational institution that they’ll be paying for an education.  To me, this sounds more like people were hoping that the school’s implication that being affiliated with The Donald would give them a leg up on the competition in a shaky job market, and when it didn’t, they got mad.  That being said, if they had 35 grand to dump into a long shot, I do think it could’ve been used more wisely.  Will this damage his reputation?  Not likely.  He’s got supporters and detractors, but with all of the time he spends in the news, I’m sure this one will blow over quickly.

What do you think?  Worthwhile lawsuit, or is he being picked on?

2 Comments for “Is Donald Trump selling reputation-based educations?”
  1. This sounds like just one step up from mailing in a check and getting a diploma. I wonder how much was misrepresented and how much was just the students expecting a golden ticket.

    Like you said, I doubt it will hurt Trump. If anything, he seems to do best when his name is in the news, alongside his arrogant attitude to everything. THAT’S the Trump reputation. 😉

    1. You can do that? 😉

      I don’t know how this guy keeps bouncing back, but he sure has turned it into an art form! Not sure I’d want my rep tied to his though..

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