employee was late on his first day, loaning money to a coworker, and more

It’s wee answer Wednesday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Employee was late to work on his first day

I have an employee who is now at least 40 minutes late for work on his first day. He at least called to let us know he overslept and is on the way, but likely won’t be here for another 20-30 minutes. He seemed mortified and was very apologetic, assuring us that it will not happen again. He said he was so excited to start his job that he couldn’t sleep and had to take a sleeping aid to help him sleep. Apparently it worked too well!

In all my years of managing people, I’ve honestly never had this happen before. Most folks wait at least a week or two before they start showing up late. Any suggestions on how to address this with him? In your opinion, how late is too late on one’s first day that would warrant them not having a second day?

If he sounded truly mortified, I’d give him a second chance. Bad luck does happen, and it’s possible that was the case here and this truly isn’t characteristic of him. Of course, it’s also possible that it’s VERY characteristic of him, but you’ll know that soon enough if so. I’d keep an eye on him and be pretty strict about any reoccurrences in the near future, but I’d be open to the possibility that it genuinely was just awful luck.

2. My new employer seems very sketchy about payroll taxes

I recently got a new job at a physical therapist’s office. This place seemed legit from the outside and throughout the hiring process, but once I started working with the medical records it became immediately obvious that something seriously wrong is going on (probably Medicare fraud) and the office will most likely be closing at the end of June. I have no idea why the doctor hired me at the end of May if he plans on closing his practice a month later, but that’s not my question. Obviously, I must leave, because even if the place doesn’t close, I don’t want to do fraudulent work.

My actual question is this: there may be some kind of payroll/tax fraud going on also, or maybe it’s just stupid. There is no payroll service of any sort. We have an old-school time clock that prints our times on a card. We, the employees, then have to add up our hours and figure out our own taxes using a photocopied sheet listing wages and dependents. The timecards are turned in to the doctor, who writes a personal check (so there’s no paystub or anything). Meanwhile, we are supposed to keep track of our taxes on a sheet of paper, and every quarter the doctor will collect the sheets and pay the taxes. Obviously, this is stupid as hell and probably fraudulent. Is it illegal for employees to figure out their own taxes like that? There’s no way to check any of it.

I’m not an accountant so I can’t speak with authority to the nuances here, but I can tell you that businesses are responsible for ensuring they’re being calculated correctly (something he’s risking by letting everyone calculate their own) and that while FUTA taxes (unemployment insurance) are usually paid quarterly (so he’s fine in that regard), income taxes and FICA taxes are required to be deposited either semi-monthly or monthly (depending on the business’ income level). So if he’s paying them all quarterly, he’s definitely in violation there.

3. Do I need to thank my boss for giving me a raise?

Do I need to thank my boss for giving me a raise?

You don’t need to, but you should. Not anything elaborate, and certainly not a gift or anything like that, but a “thank you for the raise; I really appreciate being recognized that way” is (a) gracious and (b) in your self-interest.

4. I loaned a coworker money and she won’t pay me back

A coworker owes me $1,000, and every time I ask for the money she avoids me so as not to pay. Also she told me that she will take me to Human Resources. Can I get fired if she does?

You can get fired for pretty much anything, as long as it’s not for your race, sex, religion, or other protected class. So sure, technically you could be fired for this. But I can’t imagine why you would be — you haven’t done anything wrong. If she approached HR about this, I assume she’d be laughed out of there. There’s nothing to report here. The only one who’s done something wrong is your coworker, and that’s between you and her.

But for the record, loaning money to coworkers is generally a really bad idea. Hell, loaning money to anyone is generally a bad idea unless you’re willing to risk that you might not see that money again.

5. My boss wants me to measure staff happiness with a software change

I work in I.T. for a small organization (around 50 people) that has been undergoing a lot of technology changes. I’m smack in the middle of company-wide software changes in addition to my normal day-to-day maintenance, support services, and report writing. Now the company is adding another software into the mix that I have used before, and I believe it’s a good idea but my problem is the timing and the staff here isn’t very “techie.”

When I put together my project management plan, my boss asked me to include staff happiness into the project scope. Something along the lines of “the software will be installed, infrastructure to support it will be upgraded, extensive training will be done and everyone will be happy.” When pressed for how I would measure happiness, he replied “I’m not sure, a survey or something.” I’m in way over my head doing more than I was hired to do, and although I pride myself on customer service, I am concerned because many people here are overwhelmed and I am afraid that they will take their ya-yas out on my survey. Help!

It’s certainly reasonable to have staff satisfaction as one of the measures of a project’s success. And if you wanted to do that, a survey is often the fastest way to measure that. (Another way can sometimes be a drop in complaints or reports of problems.)

While I understand your concern that a non-techie staff may not be happy at all with the new software, what your boss is telling you is that he considers it an important part of the project. If you think it’s unlikely to happen, or will only happen with more work than you have the capacity for, now is the time to bring that up. (In fact, that’s one of the big advantages of setting clear goals at the outset of a project — it brings differing perspectives to the surface at the right point in planning … because you really don’t want to find out at the end of the project that there was a measure of success that you didn’t know about.)

6. Can I lie about my salary history to avoid having it used against me?

I’ve worked at nonprofits for my entire career and am trying to make the jump to corporate — and I have to say, compensation is a big motivator. I’ve been underpaid for years, and I can see the opportunity to get a sizable salary increase if I move to corporate. But as you know, many online applications require salary history. I’m afraid if I report my nonprofit salary to a for-profit company that I will be underselling myself before I even get to a negotiation point. My question: Can I lie about my salary history on an application? How would a company even be able to check that?

You absolutely should not lie about salary in this process. Companies verify it all the time — either through asking your previous company to verify or it or by asking to see your W2s — and they will absolutely disqualify you for lying. (And sometimes they verify post-offer, so you risk accepting an offer, quitting your old job, and then having the offer pulled when they discover you lied. That is bad, and you don’t want that to happen.)

However, your current salary doesn’t need to hold you back from a much better one. Moving from nonprofits to for-profits provides you with a good reason for deserving more. Here’s the story of how I once doubled my salary in a single career move, when leaving a low-paying nonprofit.

7. What do hiring managers really think about online degrees?

So what do hiring managers, professionals in general, really think about people with degrees acquired online?

It depends on the school, and it depends on the hiring manager. Some online programs have solid reputations (generally those attached to a brick-and-mortar school). Others … don’t. And then of course, there are some hiring managers who won’t believe the degree is as as valid if it’s from an online program, no matter how good the program — although that’s becoming increasingly less common.

The two things that really matter though: Pick a program that’s part of a brick-and-mortar school with a good reputation, and avoid for-profit colleges completely. Their reputation is crap, and generally deservedly so.

{ 360 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike*

    >and avoid for-profit colleges completely. Their reputation is crap, and generally deservedly so

    I think you are pretty far off the mark on this. University of Phoenix is becoming more and more accepted. Academy of Art University is huge and respectable from what I can tell. Full Sail University is another that I know of. I’ve worked with people who have attended all of those and they are good co-workers. All three schools are for-profit but that doesn’t mean their programs or reputation are crap.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      University of Phoenix is not generally considered on the same level as brick and mortar schools, has been under government investigation for deceptive enrollment practices and other issues, and has been widely criticized for providing substandard education at high cost.

      1. Admissions Counselor*

        U Phoenix is regionally accredited which is important to point out. It’s not as bad as some of the other for-profits but I do agree that it depends on the school’s reputation and hiring committee’s perception.

      2. JoAnna*

        University of Phoenix IS a brick and mortar school in addition to an online one – I work across the street from the main campus and it’s an impressive facility. They have several other physical locations throughout the Valley as well.

      3. Amy B.*

        MY experience with UoP in MY area was “you pay for an A”. During my last class, I turned in the most half-hearted, incomplete work I could and did not participate in the online classroom discussions. I received an 89.7. I decided I didn’t want a degree that I was just basically buying, at a VERY expensive cost.
        I now only take courses at a not-for-profit school. I will get my degree one day, but it will not be because I bought it.

        1. Ariancita*

          Um, that’s pretty much the policy at a certain Ivy at which I currently work and attended.

      4. EnnVeeEl*

        Thank you for not backing down to the marketing/pr/admissions folks for UoP. Come on guys…Really. AAM is stating facts.

        1. JoAnna*

          I am not an employee of U of P (although, as I mentioned above, I do work across the street from their main campus and occasionally eat lunch at their public cafe).

          My husband did graduate from there last November, however, and he worked damn hard to do it. The amount of tuition he paid had nothing whatever to do with his grades.

      5. Anonymous*

        AAM is correct in her assessment of for profit. I don’t mean to offend anyone who has degrees from those schools because there are definitely times when good teachers are hired and students are challenged, but in general, for OP #7, consider not for profit programs if you are serious about school. I currently work for one of the “best” for profit schools (not comfortable stating which one, and the teaching is an absolute joke. The curriculum is a joke. It is heartbreaking when a student stops by to tell me they got an A and because I work in administration, I know that they paid for that A and I know that because the coursework is high school level, this isn’t worth much anyways. And the price for these classes is astronomical considering their low value. AAM is also right about the fraudulent activity. There are things about where I work that have made the news and there are things that should have made the news. Students are just numbers here. We pass our audits when we shouldn’t, including federal ones. Again, I work for a BIG one AND have gotten to work with multiple campuses. And to the point that someone made below about the supposed successes of students- this is true. For example, let’s um, say, that we offer a criminal justice degree on ground and online. If a criminal justice graduate gets a job as a security officer at a strip club making $7.75 per hour, that is an official placement that turns into a percentage that helps us pass our audits, that helps us get federal loan money that helps us then tell our potential new students that we have a high success rate. I have put in my notice at my job and will be leaving this awful place, but am so saddened by the lies they tell students and the lack of integrity that I am seriously considering having an X month gap on my resume for the awful X months I’ve been here. Please consider my words as you look into for profit schools. There is a solid chance you will waste your money. Or do some seriousssss research and find the few out there that will cost you a fortune but will at least give you a decent education.

        1. Anon T for this...*

          I talked to a student who was having trouble getting her financial aid, it actually turned out to be a simple fix (she hadn’t registered yet, she was waiting on her money, we can’t process until she’s registered!) and I apologized that the FinAid office didn’t catch it.

          She kept saying, well I talked to an online school and they made it sound so easy. I couldn’t help myself, I said, well, they just want your aid money.

          It breaks my heart that people spend up all their aid money and take on loans and never even look into other possibilities.

          1. twentymilehike*

            It breaks my heart that people spend up all their aid money and take on loans and never even look into other possibilities.

            I have a friend who went to a “for profit” college for a two year degree and spent a ridiculous amount of money (far more than I spent getting my four year degree at a CSU school). Later she thought she’d go to a four year school to a BA, however, as it turned out, she’d have to take the majority of her GE classes over again.

        2. J*

          Thanks for info. I really hope you aren’t writing this from your work computer, however.

        3. Natalie*

          ” If a criminal justice graduate gets a job as a security officer at a strip club making $7.75 per hour”

          Ugh, that just makes me sad. We employ security guards at our building – office building, not a strip club ;) – and I don’t think any of them are college graduates. It’s not remotely necessary to the task of being a security guard. We do have a few people who are working their way through police academy, but they are supporting themselves as a security guard *while attending college*.

              1. SerfinUSA*

                But many people hiring police officers list post-secondary education (generally a criminal justice degree) as a requirement.

                1. Chinook*

                  I have been told that sometimes organizations use post-secondary education as a requirement as a way to ensure that they are getting someone that has life experience beyond high school. For DH’s job with the police in red serge, the usual requirement was a university degree but they made an exception for those coming from the military or working on a second career.

            1. Ash*

              You should probably put a big asterisk next to your statement, because that isn’t true to every single police agency everywhere.

              1. Jamie*

                Right and even some are requiring and AS or BS for new recruits, even while grandfathering in current officers without the degree.

            2. Meg*

              I think that’s something that really depends on the region and the pool of applicants. I don’t think that’s true everywhere, although it most likely is in some places.

            3. Omne*

              In my state you need at least a 2 year degree to be licensed as a Peace Officer unless you qualify for reciprocity by working for several years in law enforcement in another state.

            4. Suzy Schmoe*

              That’s not necessarily true. The state in which I live requires state troopers to have a bachelor’s degree before they can even qualify to enter the academy, unless they already have spent time working in a municipal police department or corrections. The competition in the area of the state where I live is steep enough for most of the municipal police departments and for state correctional jobs that it’s highly unlikely you’d be hired without either military experience or at least an associate’s degree (bachelor’s for corrections), and you’d be better off with both.

        4. Anonymous*

          Fascinating! Thanks for the behind-the-scenes account. I’ve always worked in higher ed and had to argue with my inlaws about online degrees … most of the teachers where they work get “online masters degrees” from UoP, which I found … perplexing.

        5. annie*

          I feel for you, because I have had a few friends who have worked for these type of schools when we were naive new college graduates in our early twenties and they became very tortured by the ethics of what they were doing. From what I’ve seen from my friends on on the employment side, the jobs were relatively easy to get as well – none of my friends had degrees/experience in higher education or were particularly qualified for the work they were doing, but it was a situation where there was so much turnover once people realized what they were doing, there were always jobs posted. The objective, as others have said, was to get as much financial aid money out of people as possible, regardless of if they were students capable of actually succeeding in the program. Worse, the schools targeted populations who were most vulnerable (minority groups, the poor, immigrants without good English skills). It was truly a very upsetting situation for my friends, and they consistently felt depressed and as though they were violating their own personal values and ethics by working there. It was heartbreaking to witness their misery, and I was so thrilled when they found new jobs and could leave. They both have definitely shared their experiences (at two different schools) far and wide to warn everyone we know.

        6. Regular Poster, Anonymous for this*

          I have a coworker who has a degree in Healthcare Administration from UofP. Y’all seriously this woman cannot even use basic Excel functions properly a bare majority of the time, and seems to think the internet is solely for playing games on Facebook and checking her lottery ticket numbers. If she truly earned that 4.0 I will go eat a rather large hat.

          She’s working for around $13 doing basically data entry in a completely unrelated field. Every time she has talked with the “graduate counselor” or whatever it is, she gets a few links to things like Monster and Career Builder, and a “revised” resume that still includes an objective, and refuses to understand the help I try to provide when she asks me, because “if the college tells me, they must be right.”

          She’s deferring payment as long as she can, but it’s just gotten comical (if it weren’t so sad.) She’s not prepared at all for a career in her degree field. All from a for-profit university that touted itself to someone in a rural area as “a great option.” (And she is floored when she looks at how much more reasonable her tuition and fees would have been had she gone to a community college nearby and worked to finish her Bachelor’s through a distance learning program at a non-profit state school.)

      6. Maris*

        This is a hugely relevant topic for me right now. I’m considering an on-line for profit to complete my degree. I have an AA from a community college and have 20+ years work experience. I have done VERY well considering my lack of degree, but am going to have a hard time making the step into the Executive ranks of my company (a Fortune 10) without a degree.

        I’ve looked around extensively for an on-line completion program from ‘bricks and mortar’ schools, and a couple of the for-profits. Ironically, the for-profit I’m considering (Capella) is going to be considerably cheaper than the UC, USF or UPenn online programs and will allow me to complete in less time.

        Capella IS regionally accredited, so how can I honestly make any kind of clearly informed choice if it has the same kind of accreditation as the bricks and morter crowd? Is it really that bad for an experienced professional who just needs to ‘check the box’ on having a degree?

        1. V*

          If the only reason you need it is to check a box, and you’ve got a solid work history of 10+ years and a good network already – go for whatever’s cheapest :) That’s the one time when I might recommend a for profit school.

          If you’re looking to move ahead in your company, it might be a good idea to talk to your manager (or any contacts you have where you want to move) and make sure that they don’t care where your degree is from.

          1. Judy*

            You also might make sure that your company’s HR doesn’t have any “blacklisted” schools. We had a contract engineer, we wanted to hire him. They went through all the hoops to hire him, made an offer, and somehow our HR realized that this person’s MBA (not required for the job) was from an online school on the blacklist, and rescinded the offer.

            1. Ariancita*

              Wait, his offer was rescinded because he went to a school that is blacklisted even though the position didn’t require the degree? That’s terrible!

          2. Nikki T*

            I agree with V, if you’re just checking a box *and* you can afford it, it matters a bit less. But do check around a bit to see if checking the box is what matters and no one will give that particular school a side-eye.

        2. Anonymous*

          Hi Maria,
          What V says below about checking with your coworkers is good advice but also just plain Google. I Googled Capella right now and already saw some worrisome posts. Read the Senate reports, etc. I mean, if you’re just looking to get whatever degree, then what I said above in the long post does not matter, but you never know when you’ll need to go to a new job where I will matter. There are plenty of employers in my area that refuse to even look at our students because they KNOW how bad the quality is. Also, especially with online degrees, the turnover for faculty is so high, you don’t really know who is looking over your assignments. It could be the secretary. That’s not what I would pay for….

        3. Anon-Mouse*

          I would strongly discourage ever getting a for-profit degree, no matter the rationale. If cost is a factor, look for less expensive online programs at non-profit, properly accredited schools. If time is a factor, it’s important to recognize that these programs take a certain amount of time for a reason (and one should look suspiciously at a for-profit program that claims it can get you in and out the door faster when the point is to teach you mastery of something).

          Frankly, I think the way to frame this is not by thinking “which is the cheaper/faster degree” but by framing it as “which is ACTUALLY a degree and which isn’t?” If you’re spending (less) money for a piece of paper that is functionally meaningless to any employer that does a little digging, is it really worth the expense?

          1. Maris*

            But here’s the thing: if everyone is saying you need to look at Regional Accreditation, and the online school has that accreditation – then how do you know/measure whether the quality is higher or lower? If the same body accredits both?

            As for the less time – because they offer classes on a year round schedule vs just spring and fall. I am contemplating if I can shorten it further by doing a concentration in Project Management. I am already an accredited Project Manager (which required education, documented experience, exam, ongoing PDUs etc). Therefore, the University is willing to credit the PM classes due to my existing certification (which, I think makes sense, because the classes are intended to teach you the theory you need to know to satisfy that part of the Certification… which I already have).

            Anyway – I appreciate any advice, I’m from Australia so I find the US Education system horribly complex and confusing – the fact you have to try and work out whether or not something is a “real” university or not just blows my mind.

            Is Western Governor’s University (a not-for-profit, online, regionally accredited school viewed any differently than UPhoenix, Capella, Drexel, Aspen etc?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              But here’s the thing: if everyone is saying you need to look at Regional Accreditation, and the online school has that accreditation – then how do you know/measure whether the quality is higher or lower? If the same body accredits both?

              The same way you know if Stanford is better than Fayetteville State University — by reputation, graduation rates, strength of the faculty, competitiveness of enrollment, etc.

              1. Daria*

                For profit schools often buy failing non-profit schools that already have accreditation. The accreditation comes with the purchase, so they are safe until the next accreditation review. This video by PBS explains why for profits are generally predatory “schools” that offer no value to the student while raking in federal loan money.


            2. Maris*

              To clarify: I absolutely want a ‘real’ degree. However, as a working professional adult, I have to be brutally honest and say that my demographic is one that is very poorly served by traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ schools.

              Community College was great in serving working adults (1 x week, 4 hour class, at night or on the weekend). So they’re an exception.

              Regular universities cater to teenagers and young adults… full-time students that can juggle low-level hourly jobs around a schedule that requires them to attend class in 30-45 minute increments, 3-4 days a week (per class), during the day. That is not compatible with a professional job.

              One other thing: what makes ‘for profit’ worse than online degrees *(when similarly accredited)* than online programs from bricks and mortar schools? It sure isn’t the cost. UC & UPenn run about $32K for degree completion. USF (not online) runs $42K. Capella… runs about $20k. All are heinously expensive given their material is online and able to be reused over and over and with low additional cost (hosting).

              Given that, I really don’t understand the difference – I would love to hear it because I’d really love to believe there was a logical, rational explanation.

                1. Maris*

                  I absolutely have, and I appreciate them. They’re not really new news – I’ve long known there are problems with the ‘for profit’ model, so that’s not new – especially in terms of the amount of debt burden placed on folks who lack the background/language/intellect to compare options and assess their costs/benefits.

                  It took me 4 years to complete my AA due to work commitments (18 months overseas assignment), and I did it via a Community College at $165 per credit hour vs University of Phoenix’s $1200 per credit hour (at the time). Given that comparison – I could not understand why anyone would go for U of Phoenix.

                  The trouble is that (today) its not so clear cut for me. I’m in the Sacramento area, and have looked into every University I can find that’s even vaguely possible for me to attend (UC Berkley, UC Davis, Stanford, University of San Francisco, Sac State. I also looked at online/extension campuses (UC Irvine, UPenn). While I get that those programs are better quality – of the onsite programs only USF had options for evening/weekend studies. All of them on a cost basis were significantly more costly (up to 2x more expensive) than the ‘for profit’ colleges. Cost is a factor for me.

                  Obviously, if its a worthless piece of paper, even 1/2 the cost is no bargain, and that’s what I have to assess.

                2. Agile Phalanges*

                  Maris, have you looked for 100% online programs at schools that are outside your geographical region? I went to Linfield College (brick and mortar location in McMinville, Oregon) online, and while it’s based only a few hours drive from me, there were students attending online classes with me who were based everywhere from on campus but wanted the convenience of an online class, to Europe and Australia.

                  There was only one time that it was “required” to go to the actual campus–one teacher held a seminar at the beginning of the term to fully describe an online simulation game we were required to play. However, those from distant locations conference called in and viewed the presentation remotely, so it is actually entirely possible to graduate from there without ever setting foot on campus, and the diploma looks exactly the same as those who spent four years living in the dorms.

                  I, personally, attended that seminar, then marched at graduation. Those are the only two times I’ve set foot on campus.

              1. Xay*

                I completely understand your perspective. I work full time and there is no way I could take the income hit to go back to school full time for a graduate degree or adapt my work schedule to accommodate the traditional schedule of the schools closest to where I live. It’s particularly frustrating because there are so many people in field who pursue this degree as working professionals.

                But it really comes down to your field, your experience and what you are trying to do. In my case, a for profit degree simply is not an option because there are no for profit institutions that are accredited in my field, having an accredited degree is required to qualify for fellowships, and hiring managers for the positions I’m interested in look down on degrees from unaccredited schools.

                On the other hand, a friend of mine is working on her PhD in Education through Walden. She is basically checking a box so that she will be eligible to move into leadership positions in her county and was told that was acceptable. Will that degree be acceptable if she decides that she wants to relocate? Who knows.

                1. Frieda*

                  Also just being online doesn’t make a program bad. I’m getting a Master’s degree online from a well-known school (Northwestern) and the work is REALLY CHALLENGING. It’s definitely on-par with the type of coursework I had in my on-campus fancy liberal arts undergrad. The fact that it’s online just makes it easier to work and do school at the same time (which the program is actually designed for).

              2. Nikki T*

                I don’t know what state you are in and you don’t have to share, but UPenn is probably going to be high cost anyway. Begin with a search of ALL public institutions in your state, then in neighboring states.

                Please do a full-scale search of local/public schools. Some just hit the larger schools and forget about the rest.

                It’s just one option, and many of those who are just starting out/trying to complete a degree from years ago do have better options and unfortunately don’t know it, and are ending up at institutions that have a high cost, questionable quality, poor reputations and/or no transfer-ability, even being similarly accredited.

                If you go in with your eyes wide open, then you’re ahead of many.

                It’s not always less expensive *just* because it is online. Courses have to be designed, updated, migrated and many are taught by the same faculty as main (face-to-face) campus, many public institutions have high tuition to start with, especially further north you go and in terms of graduate programs.

              3. Natalie*

                “However, as a working professional adult, I have to be brutally honest and say that my demographic is one that is very poorly served by traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ schools.

                Community College was great in serving working adults (1 x week, 4 hour class, at night or on the weekend). So they’re an exception.”

                I’m not clear on where you are in the country, so it’s certainly possible that the traditional colleges in your area are doing a poor job of meeting the needs of non-traditional students. However, there may be more online and evening/weekend options that you are aware of. In my metro, there are at least 2 public and 2 private traditional colleges that have evening and weekend and/or online programs. But they don’t always advertise themselves terribly well. Our land-grant university focuses their marketing on incoming freshmen – I’ve lived here most of my life, and I didn’t know they had online degrees until I specifically checked their website.

              4. Anon-Mouse*

                For-profit schools are predatory, “pay-for-A’s,” heavily inflate their post-grad ’employment’ claims, target those that can least afford it with heavy-handed ‘sales’ techniques and false employment guarantees, have abysmal retention and repayment rates, and typically don’t provide the kind of preparation employers looking for those degrees expect. That’s why they’re being so heavily derided in this thread. I posted a stack of news links on their scammy tactics somewhere in this thread that can be more informative.

                As for what schools you should look at–there are more and more traditional schools that are starting up on-line programs for continuing education. Start with local schools for the most affordable, and work your way through the programs until you find one that fits. You can also google ‘non-profit online colleges’ and find rankings that are semi-decent, and might provide a starting point for you.

                Good luck!

              5. Sarah*

                Have you checked with your employers? I work for a professional law firm and its an 8 to 5 job, but we make allowances for people who want to go back to school. Usually they would go to school part time, (less than 12 hours a semester) and work full time. They may have to come in early some days and leave late other days, and be in the office for 3 or 4 hours Saturday. But if you work somewhere that will work with you it makes it much easier. I agree with everyone else who has been posting about how bad online universities are. I think if you’re paying for an education you might as well do it right the first time. Its like surgery, you wouldn’t want the cheapest option where you have to go back again later and wind up paying more. As others were saying, what would happen if you switched companies and had a hard time finding a job because you chose the less expensive school with a poor reputation? This is something worth investing in and employers definitely judge based on school. I would never recommend anyone waste time and money on for profit degrees.

              6. fposte*

                Because accreditation isn’t the whole story–it’s just a base federal standard that means sufficient compliance to be eligible for federal aid. (There have actually been some decent programs at unaccredited schools, too, just to complicate things.) It’s not just the for profit/not-for-profit division–my grad school wouldn’t accept master’s degrees from some not-for-profit schools, because they just weren’t rigorous enough to be equivalent–you had to go through the master’s again if you wanted to go for a PhD there. And in general, for-profits aren’t as rigorous as nonprofit schools, and that’s why their default rates are so high and their priorities are often so skewed.

                Some of this is reputational, sure, in that there are crappy nonprofit schools and quite possibly programs with high objective rates of success at some for profits. But from an economic standpoint, you have to be in a very specific market, where that particular institution’s degree is known, for that for-profit degree to have equivalent value; in a general market, the category’s problems with rigor are going to devalue what you get from an institution within it.

                So it’s not completely logical, but it’s not illogical either. They’re mostly not doing a very good job at what they’re supposed to do, so having them say you did fine doesn’t carry that much weight.

            3. Nikki T*

              I’m not sure how WGU is viewed in general, but I remember when I went to their website for the first time. I didn’t get a ‘hard sell’ feeling. I found everything I needed w/o filling out a form (wasn’t looking for myself, was curious after speaking with a prospect on the phone).

              I felt like they present you with all the information needed to make an informed decision, list of courses, program descriptions, how it works, tuition. It seems like they actually care about providing an education and not getting your phone number so they can call you and GET YOU SIGNED UP! RIGHT NOW! TODAY!

              To me, that matters, but I’m not sure how others feel.

              1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

                (Disclaimer: I worked for WGU for about a year and a half, but it was ages ago).

                WGU is gaining more and more respect. They’re non-profit, for one thing, and were founded by the Western Governors Association, spearheaded by Michael Leavitt, who was the governor of Utah at the time. They were regionally accredited initially by all 4 regional accreditation bodies (something that hasn’t happened before or since), but only maintained their accreditation with the one that actually governs their region (the Northwest Commission). Their teachers college, nursing program, Health Informatics, and Security and Assurance program are all accredited by leading accreditation bodies in their field.

                When I worked for them, I was in the assessment development department. They had a rigorous system for creating the different assessments you have to pass to earn your degree, and the grading is done on strict rubrics (I also graded for them for a while). I think their programs can match up with almost any traditional university.

                That being said, they are still an online school, and their competency-based model still meets with resistance from a lot of people. Your mileage may vary when applying for jobs.

            4. Chinook*

              “then how do you know/measure whether the quality is higher or lower? If the same body accredits both?”

              I would check to see if a university that you do know is respected would accept transfer credits from them. If they don’t, then that is a sign.

        4. fposte*

          Another problem is sort of an economic one: the reputations of for-profits are wobbly and unpredictable, so even if it’s okay now or at company A, it could be an issue in 10 years or at company B. While traditional/b&m schools can have changes in their profile, their degrees are likely to remain viable currency.

        5. The IT Manager*

          Is it really that bad for an experienced professional who just needs to ‘check the box’ on having a degree?

          In my opinion, no. If your goal is just to check a box, then whatever’s easier, cheapest, and fastest is probably the best option. You probably will still learn something, but maybe not much.

          But if you’re want to learn something or improve your marketablity, you need to consider the school’s reputation.

        6. Coffeeless*

          If you’re looking at online programs, consider Western Governor’s University. It’s an accredited non profit, and fairly well respected. It’s also very very reasonably priced.

      7. Anonymous*

        So if you have completed a degree from a “for-profit” institution such as the University of Phoenix, should you just not put it on your resume because of the perceived reputation? For example if I had an Undergraduate degree from a “brick-n-mortar” school and an and an advanced degree from a “for-profit” institution. The market I am in does not specifically require an advanced degree, would I be better off not listing the “for-profit” advanced degree on my resume?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Honestly, I’d seriously consider leaving it off. For a lot of people, it will instantly change their perception of you in a negative way. I think it does significantly more harm than it does good.

          Leaving it on = at best neutral, and negative for a lot of people

          Leaving it off = neutral for everyone

        2. just another hiring manager...*

          I have to agree with AAM here. I had a friend who did her BS in biology at UC San Diego then got her MA from University of Phoenix. She wanted to be a research lab manager, but couldn’t find a job with her master’s listed on her resume. She started just listing the BS and *poof* got a senior researcher position which eventually led to a lab manager job. Her coworkers still tease her about the “downgrade” she did in her education and she is saddled with debt for a degree that didn’t help her in any practical, educational, or personal way.

    2. Ariancita*

      Yes, agreed. There are professional schools that are good and for profit–I’m thinking mostly in the arts/design field. Some have only recently received accreditation, but have always been historically good.

    3. Anon-Mouse*

      (hopefully I don’t bork the HTML……)

      “For-Profit Colleges Must Crack Down on Predatory Practices”

      “For-profit colleges bilking public, senator says”

      “For-Profit Colleges Misled Students, Witnesses Say”

      “Man Blows Whistle on For-Profit College”

      The fact that the people that attend these for-profit schools are “good co-workers” is completely meaningless (of course they’re good people–why wouldn’t they be??). For profit schools use scam-tactics, drain taxpayer dollars, and prey on those that can least afford it. They’re predatory, full stop.

        1. Meg*

          Meh. I know a LOT of people who attended Full Sail, both on campus and online, in various majors. Many of them are doing exactly what is advertised – working for big name media doing big stuff. Some are doing diddly squat.

          However, the more “successful” graduates I know majored in specific things, and not “vague” things like Entertainment Business. I’m talking like 3D modeling and animation (who now works for Bethesda Games as a 3D artist within 6 months of graduating), Touring and Live Stage Production (works for Lambda Productions, which does all the stage work for Bonnaroo and Firefly and all the other super big music festivals [side note: I did my internships with them]), Audio Engineering (a few producers have come out this – a friend of mine is working with Yung Joc and some other ‘semi-big’ names in the studio).

          At the same time, I know people who came out of the audio engineering program with nothing, because they didn’t put in the effort.

          Yeah, it’s a lot of money. My former room mate owes like $30K for the Entertainment Business she didn’t even finish. So it’s really touch and go, so programs there are better than others, and even with a good program, no matter where you go, if you don’t put in the effort post-grad, then you’re not going to get anything.*

          *Assuming you’re not the child of some celebrity or mogul.

          1. Lindsay J*

            It seems like Full Sail has good connections within the entertainment industry.

            My little brother recently completed his degree in recording arts there and is now working with a major video game company.

            I know they advertise connections with ESPN, etc, as well. A lot of getting a job (especially in the visual and audio production world) is connections, so if these places are willing to partner with Full Sail on internships, building specific building facilities, and are hiring students after graduation, then if that’s where you want to work I don’t see it as a bad place to go. I would not attend with the expectation of transferring credits, doing grad school anywhere else but Full Sail, or trying to get a job outside of the entertainment industry your degree is aimed for.

            I also know that they do a lot of what we complain about on this blog and prepare the students for behaving appropriately in the real world. I don’t know if it happens for real but in practice the professors are supposed to knock down a student’s global professionalism score if they send an email to them that would not be appropriate business communication or if they interrupt others or are otherwise rude in class, or miss more than one class or are tardy.

            It is ungodly expensive though. My parents paid more for his education at Full Sail than they would have for him to complete school at Drexel.

            1. Karyn*

              This! My cousin is a Full Sail grad and moved to LA afterward, and he’s working for a major studio in Hollywood now. Probably just fetching coffee, but he’s only 21!

      1. Piper*

        Academy of Art University has a brick and mortar and is also regionally accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) for both online programs and brick and mortar programs. I would not put them in the same classification as UoP or those types of schools.

        1. Editor*

          JD —
          Full Sail says they are accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, which only accredits for-profit private schools. It is a national organization. Credits earned at institutions accredited by this national group may not transfer to colleges and universities that hold regional accreditations, but this is something I recall and couldn’t find a link to confirm.

          The regional accreditors, such as Middle States, are the prestigious accreditors. National accreditation is actually a warning that the accreditation is not as strong as that of a competing school that meets regional accreditation standards — probably as a nonprofit. This can confuse people who think meeting a national standard is better than a regional standard, but in accreditation, it is the six regional accreditation agencies whose edicts are most important.

          The Chronicle of Higher Education regularly writes about accreditation, and if you search their website you can find reliable information about accreditation. They’ve also written about diploma mills and the misleading accreditations diploma mills present (Full Sail is not a diploma mill).

    4. Xay*

      Their reputation is crap for good reason. That’s why their credits don’t transfer to for profit universities and the vast majority of the people who enroll do not graduate.

      There are a lot of for profits jumping into public health degrees and my supervisors won’t even consider someone from a for profit unless they have a lot of experience because none of them are ASPH or CEPH certified.

    5. AP*

      I work in the art world and do a lot of hiring, and Academy of Art University does not have a good reputation at all. I’m not saying I wouldn’t hire someone with a degree from there, but it would be more of a neutral mark than a positive.

      Full Sail is an interesting case…their shorter, more technical programs are great (audio engineering, etc.) but again, their art programs are not looked upon in the same regard as a four-year BA. In my mind it’s more of a tech-prep school.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        We hired a Full Sail audio engineering graduate. He was an absolutely horrible live audio operator. Same with the one we hired from the Arts Institute.

        1. Maris*

          My husband is a long-time live show and video professional (editing, engineering, lead tech etc) – who has worked in the entertainment and video industry since he was a teenager. No degree at all.

          He worked live events/conventions in Orlando, so saw a lot of Full Sail grads. He considered them barely qualified to run cable (and frighteningly, some didn’t know how to even do that – a MUST in the live show game). Trouble is, they focus on specific software, but its behind the curve on what’s actually used in the profession, and they don’t teach them basic industry stuff. Which wouldn’t be that bad if a) the degree didn’t cost upwards of $150K… for an industry where the staring wages for everyone are about minimum wage and b) if they didn’t tell the grads that basically means they are ‘cutting edge, fully qualified’. :(

    6. V*

      No, University of Phoenix is automatically translated to “probably didn’t learn much in that program”, at least in my field. Full Sail and Academy of Art don’t offer degrees in my field, but it sounds like they’re regarded as something similar.

      I know some people I would hire in a second who’ve attended the University of Phoenix – but I’d be hiring then for their experience and skills, not the degree. All the University of Phoenix degree does is let them check the box and get past the HR autoscreening.

    7. Sus*

      um, no. University of Phoenix is NOT gaining in reputation. Rather the opposite. They have recently closed many campuses, laid off workers, etc. I work in higher education and work side by side with former U of P reps. They are almost single-handedly responsible for sweeping regulatory crackdowns on practices such as paying admissions reps commissions and bonuses for enrolling under-qualified students who ultimately fail out, but not before racking up thousands in student loan debts and squandering even more in federal grants.

    8. Victoria Nonprofit*

      Yeah, no. As a hiring manager, I assure you that I view online degrees as entirely different from a brick-and-mortar school (in the same way that I view a degree from a technical school differently from a degree from a community college, and community college as different from four-year college, and all the variations within those categories).

    9. V*

      I really think the number of people who worry about for-profits, rightly or wrongly (I say rightly) is evidence of why it isn’t a good idea to get a degree from one. After all, OP is wondering what hiring managers think of these degrees. I think it’s at least a 50/50 shot that a hiring manager would look differently upon a degree from one of these schools, and that’s really what matters.

    10. totochi*

      I was an instructor with Univ of Phoenix (brick/mortar) several years ago; I stopped after teaching 4 courses (accounting and finance) because it was crap. The mandatory textbook was awful and I was discouraged from bringing in outside teaching material or adding to their syllabus. Classroom instruction was only 20 hours total; students were supposed to meet their study group 4 hours per week to satisfy the 40 hour requirement for accreditation but I doubt they actually meet each week.

      As a hiring manager, for me a degree from Univ of Phoenix is marginally beneficial, as in “I see you’ve taking initiative to improve your education.” I would not expect that they’ve learned anything useful. An online degree would count even less.

    11. Anonymoose*

      I work with someone who has ALL of their degrees from the University of Phoenix – BA through PhD. They insist on being called Dr. Blahblah. It is to laugh – especially as said “PhD” is completely superfluous, as it has no relevancy whatsoever to their role or responsibilities…so the fact that they insist on being called Dr. in a professional capacity just cracks me up. I have no idea how they take themselves so seriously. I think they’re the only one who does…

      1. Chinook*

        I laugh at the idea of someone getting all their degrees from one for-profit university and thinkign this is a good idea. Those I know with multiple degrees say you are looked down upon in academia if they are from one institution because it shows you haven’t stretched yourself to learn. If that person had gon to a “real” university, he would have learned that to.

    12. Mel*

      I used to be on many hiring committees for a large state university. If a candidate submitted a resume with a degree from UoP, is automatically went into the trash.

      No matter how good a school you might think it is, choosing a for-profit online school could have unintended effects for the rest of your career. I highly recommend that people getting an online degree look into attending a program from a b&m school.

  2. Sniper*

    For profit schools – be it online or brick and mortar – are crap. After all, they only exist to make a profit for the shareholders. When times get tough, the first things to get cut are the programs for the students, because earnings have to remain up/growing for the shareholders. Plus, most aren’t accredited or those that are, only have regional accreditations that don’t mean jack.

    I wasted 18 months and about $15,000 on one of these. The degree was worthless and zero of the credits were transferable. Plus, they completely made up a story about how I got employed, to try and show that their graduates ‘had success.’ I had to start from scratch when I started on my bachelors, but needless to say, I don’t use this experience at all when discussing my educational history.

    Stay away from for-profits at all costs. Only go to a non-profit, fully accredited school.

    1. Admissions Counselor*

      Regional accreditation is important and required for pursuing most graduate programs.

      Only national accreditation is trouble.

      There is also programmatic accreditation (like APA/PMI) which is good in addition to regional.

      1. Admissions Counselor*

        My comment is confusing…what I mean is if an institution only has national accred. like some of the for-profits, it’s trouble–look elsewhere!!

        But big universities, privates, community colleges, state schools will have Regional accred which is good. Those credits will transfer for sure.

        I work with students coming from non-regionally acred institutions and it breaks my heart when we can’t accept all of their coursework!! (We accept some because we have liberal transfer policies but still…)

        1. Mike*

          Is that really because national accreditation are bad or because schools have an incentive to remain snobish and only accept coursework from other regionally accredited schools in order to main the status quo?

          1. Cat*

            It might be a little of the second, but given how much more the for profit schools charge than do state schools and community colleges, I’m not sure the consumer is being harmed by that particular piece of protectionism.

          2. Anon T for this*

            Some of the nationally accredited schools are tech/career training schools and the 4-year/regionally accredited schools don’t have equivalent courses to provide credit for.

            Which would be similar if someone took a career track at a community college. There are some programs that do let a career track comm. coll. student transfer to receive lower level technical credit, but only if they *completed* their program. We only accept from regionally accredited institutions though, which I feel encourages students to take advantage of the great value at the community college and get a great education THEY CAN AFFORD.

      2. Maris*

        So – what happens when the online for-profit school has Regional Accreditation? Do credits transfer? Does that change the view of its ‘value’?

        1. Natalie*

          Credit transfer is determined by the accepting school, and they each set their own standards. However, *in general* if you are attend a liberal arts college or university, most or all of your credits will transfer to another liberal arts college or university in the same state provided you took college level courses.

          Some states have a state-wide transfer curriculum that you can take at community college and then automatically transfer to a 4-year school within the state as a junior.

          1. Meg*

            My sister did that! (We live in MA) It worked out really well for her – she had a hard time in high school, and quite frankly, didn’t stand a chance of getting into a 4-year school. She signed up at the local community college, busted her ass, and transferred her credits to the local 4-year university. I think it’s a great idea.

          2. Editor*

            Transferring credits is more complicated than it looks, or at least that was the case when my son was looking at colleges a little over a decade ago.

            Some universities have reciprocal agreements with community colleges and other feeder schools to transfer credits into specific programs. So, my local community college has a deal with Big State University that local kids can enter as juniors. All credits transfer, and as long as the student earned acceptable grades in the required courses, the requirements don’t have to be taken over again. This is why, for instance, so many community colleges are looking for Ph.D.s to teach required English courses and so on — Big State wants to see that the instruction is ostensibly equivalent to its more demanding curriculum.

            The other way credits transfer is as electives. Students coming in to Big State from a school without some prearranged deal may transfer all credits, but they may only satisfy distribution and elective requirements. The student may have to take all courses for the major from scratch. This isn’t entirely unjustified — the Ivy university I went to was known for its biology program, and transfer students coming into the major struggled mightily because they just hadn’t learned as much in their first two years as the folks who started out as freshmen (communications majors did not have similar problems — it varied by department). There’s also the issue of the order of the syllabus. In programs with mutual agreements about accepting transfers, it’s my understanding that the institutions kind of agree that certain basic topics must be covered in the first two years so the transfers don’t have unpredictable gaps in knowledge that Big State profs have to deal with.

            If a university has a world-class program, students who transfer in might not have had as rigorous an introduction to the field. That’s not snobbery, it’s just a fact of academic life.

            The bottom line is that even if for-profit courses transfer to a nonprofit school, they may not count toward completion of the major. So to complete a degree, it might not take two years of courses, but three, in order to meet departmental requirements for a major.

            If someone sees an error here, please correct me. I haven’t looked into this stuff recently.

    2. Josh S*

      I don’t know that it’s necessarily fair to say that they only exist to make a profit for the shareholders. Yes, that’s the chief end of the business and there’s a fiduciary duty to the shareholders. But that doesn’t mean they can’t also genuinely have a passion for educating people, etc.

      It’s possible (though admittedly unlikely) to have a profit motive but still put out a high-quality product. And for education, a high-quality product might just be a good education.

      1. Anonymous*

        Why is it unlikely to have a profit motive but still put out a high quality product? Plenty of companies do.

        1. Xay*

          Because most for profits motive is to collect as much federal loan money as possible from as many students as possible and not provide an education. That’s why their admission process is more of a high pressure sales tactic than a genuine evaluation.

        2. Josh S*

          You’re absolutely right–plenty of companies do. But A) They’re necessarily in the minority since a high quality product is most often a premium price, and premium can’t fit the needs of the mass market most times, and B) almost all those companies are outside of higher education, which was the industry I was referring to.

          1. Mike C.*

            You’re assuming every involved is a rational actor and has perfect information. Neither of these is true.

            1. Josh S*

              Hm? I’m not seeing that assumption in my comment above (10:14am). Can you explain what you mean?

              1. Mike C.*

                Charging a premium price for premium goods assumes several things on the part of the seller and the buyer:

                Seller: That they know what a premium good is, how to make it and how to let others know it’s being sold. Additionally that they are actually producing a premium good as opposed to an inferior good being marketed as premium.

                Buyer: They need to know what a premium good is, that the good they are considering from the seller is truly a premium good as opposed to an inferior good, that the price being charged of them is a fair market price without unusual, confusing or misleading terms, etc.

                It’s basically a long way of saying, “you’re positing a model that assumes everyone is acting in good faith and that people are getting what they pay for. I disagree, and it’s really easy to take advantage of folks who are new to the college system or are disparate”. Thus, the issues with less than rational action and information asymmetry.

                Does this help?

                1. Josh S*

                  Oh, sure, that makes sense. I largely agree with you regarding premium positioning, etc. (Heck, as a market research guy, I *KNOW* that most–not all, but most–of ‘premium’ is just packaging and marketing.)

                  I see what you’re getting at regarding rational actors and info asymmetry.

    3. Anon*

      I do want to point out that I know of at least one very BIG exception to the “for profits are crap” rule. DigiPen Institute of Technology in Washington state is a for profit college. Because of that, it does get a stigma in some sectors.. think admin/business work.

      However, DigiPen was created from a collaboration with Nintendo and is located in Redmond (think Microsoft etc…) It’s a top tier game design school and and game designer to be who can afford to go there is getting one of the best possible educations.

      This is the only for proft school that I know of that is a GOOD school – but I have to imagine that if one exists perhaps others do as well?

  3. jesicka309*

    #7 This depends on your country (I’m in Australia) but I second the advice about choosing a ‘brick and motar’ school for online learning. For one, once you complete it, there’s no way to tell how you completed the degree (it says the same school on the certificate at the end either way) and most employers shouldn’t care how you obtained the degree – the fact that you did the work, and hopefully managed a good GPA at the end as well, should be enough.

    That being said, I’m in a country where there are about 6 different universities (with multiple campuses across the country), so there isn’t the same stigma attached to each individual school compared to the US and other countries.

    1. Felicia*

      In Canada there isn’t the same sort of reputations attached to individual schools either, and we don’t have for profit schools at all, so although everyone has their own opinion of schools, it seems like in the US there’s more of a well known hierarchy. But many brick and mortar schools offer certain degrees entirely, or almost entirely online, even Masters degrees, so I think those would be the best option. There is one school I can think of that’s totally online, but I know certain employers are suspicious of it, though probably unjustly since it’s accredited and funded by its province like all other universities, but people should know that prejudice is out there.

      1. Chinook*

        Felicia, there are for-profit schools in Canada (DeVry is one) but they are few and far between. I also suspect that they may have to be accredited by the provincial government which I would hope would set a high standard, especially if these places are goign to accept RESPs and provincially funded scholarships (like the Alberta Rutherford) and grants (I know there wasone if you are from northern Alberta and agree to work up there for a certain amount of time).

        1. Felicia*

          Now that I think about it, I believe there’s also TriOs College, and another one that are also for profit. Though I think the word I was thinking of was private, rather than for profit. The US has a lot of schools that are private and well regarded and we don’t have that so I confused the two. Though you’d be hard to find a place that considers TriOs or Devry legitimate, and if i recall correctly (from when my mom was considering TriOs and this other similar one called Everest) they don’t actually offer degrees, just certificates.

          1. KarenT*

            There are tons of for-profit schools in Ontario. I don’t know how many nationally (the accrediting is provincial) but there are over 500 in Onatario alone. Devry, TriOS, CDI, Everest are all known as private because they advertise. However, there are many for profit colleges masquerading as “real”– Cambridge College, BC College, Paisley College… The list is huge. And many of them can give diplomas though none can give bachelors degree vary by province)

            More interestingly, BC and Ontario both have websites that list for-profit schools with suspended licenses and schools that are under investigation.

    2. Chinook*

      #7 I agree with jesicka309 that it does depend on the country, but I would look at it as more for-profit vs. non-proft rather than on-line vs. bricks & mortar but only because Alberta has an on-line university that has been around since before the internet as an correspondence university for the rural population. True, it is not as presitgious as any of the top 5 universities in Canada, but the credits are transferrable to other universities, which to me is a good way of judging its credibility.

      1. Felicia*

        Are you talking about Athabasca? Another thing I think makes that credible is that it receives funding from the provincial government. Though a friend of mine is doing a degree there, i forget which one, but she lives in Toronto and always has, and is encountering employers that are suspicious of it and/or have never heard of it.

        1. Chinook*

          Athabasaca is exactly the distance education university I was thinking about. DH was suspicious about it when the military recommended it as a place to take courses but I convinced him it was legit and, looking at the course work he was given, the standards seemed to be the same as the University of Alberta.

          Athabasca was set up, I believe, to help with the education of those of us living 100’s of km’s away from the 3 universities available at that time. It allowed people to train and educate themselves without leaving home and, at the same time, guaranteed they would stay in their more remote community because they were already there. Considering I took high school classes by correspondence from a central program run by Alberta Education , I never thought it odd for their to be a university equivalent. The true test of the university, though, is the fact that its credits are transferrable to other universities.

      2. jesicka309*

        Exactly. Some of the online universities are actually former correspondance universities that have made the (correct) decision to transfer to an online system. My Dad got his accounting degree back in the early 2000s – when he first started, he was taping lectures on the ABC at 3am, recieving his materials in the mail, and faxing his assignments into the university. I’m doing a business degree now, and it’s structured almost the same, except I watch/listen to my lectures online, I can access my materials online, and I can submit my assignments via SafeAssign (online, and actually safer as they can cross check for plagiarism).
        My guess that in big countries like Canada and Australia with large rural populations, there is a different culture around higher education – if you live in a city, you attend the school there. If you live rurally, you either move to the city, or study by correspondence. If you work full time, you study by correspondence.

  4. Amber*

    #1 “Most folks wait at least a week or two before they start showing up late.” This comment bothered me because I don’t know anyone who chooses to shown up late intentionally.

    Consider that the time that your work starts may be vastly different then whatever time he was used to. This isn’t an excuse but it takes time for the body to adjust to the change of getting up earlier. (And adjusting to the traffic of a new area).

    Most importantly someone’s first day at work is HUGELY stressful, he was probably up tossing and turning all night from nervousness. Give the guy a break and make his first few weeks relaxing before you judge him.

    1. Jen in RO*

      I choose to show up late every day. My company is flexible and as long as people are reasonable, it’s fine to be “late”. (Actually, even though officially our office opens at 9, almost no one arrives that early). In this context, I did wait one week until I started showing up late, because I wanted to see what the local culture was (my boss is remote so I couldn’t ask him). Now, I usually get to work around 9.30-10 and stay until 6-7.30. As long as the job gets done and you’re not missing 3 hours a day, no one cares when you come and when you leave.

      1. Anonymous*

        “This comment bothered me because I don’t know anyone who chooses to shown up late intentionally.”

        Sure they do. I did. Stayed late/worked harder to make up for it, but I preferred to not rush to work in the mornings, and was confident my boss wouldn’t mind too much usually, as long as I wasn’t missing a specific meeting.

      2. moe*

        If your employer is okay with when you show up, I wouldn’t consider it “late” at all.

        Amber, that comment bugged me a bit too. Certainly there are people who do genuinely not care about timeliness–but way to think the worst of your employees! I can’t imagine #1 OP has never been inadvertently late to something.

        1. Jamie*

          This. It’s not late if you can flex your schedule. I don’t have a set start time so some days I’m later than others, but I’m not “late” unless I had a meet g or something scheduled and ran behind.

          1. LJL*

            But then again, if your schedule is flexed, isn’t your “late” start time actually on time?

          2. Jessa*

            Exactly, it’s not late if your employer lets you do it.

            On the other hand, I’d be leery of late on first day person, but I’d give em another shot for it. But if they did it again? In the first month or so, barring really specific uncontrollable issues -weather, an accident, etc. I’d be “sorry bye.”

    2. Josh S*

      In my call center job, ages ago, there were a few people who were habitually late. (And this is for a job where you are required to sign in and be live on the phones at 8:00:00 sharp. A second late is a ding against you because of service level agreements with clients, etc.) You got points every time you were late, and so many points put you on final warning before termination. But points dropped off on a rolling 6 month period, so after a certain amount of time, they’d be off their “final” warning.

      I can’t tell you how many times this handful of people went from Final Warning to (barely) not final warning, were late a couple more times, went back on Final Warning, etc etc etc.

      I don’t know how “intentional” their lateness was, but there was certainly a particular lack of effort when their job wasn’t at risk. If they weren’t on Final Warning, it was as if they just didn’t care if they rolled into work an hour (or more!) late.

      I fought to give these people the axe, largely because of the morale issues it was causing with the dozens of people who, you know, showed up for work. But the powers that be stuck to the letter of the policy in the handbook (it was an HR Outsourcing firm, after all, I suppose sticking to the handbook is in the cultural DNA…)

      People who have disdain for gainful employment really shouldn’t be given the privilege of regular work. (If that’s unusually cruel, it’s 2am here and I’m tired and pissy.)

      1. Dan*

        I’m actually a “letter of the law” kind of guy in these situations. I mean, you have a policy. As an employee, I expect that you will uphold your end of it, and not make ad-hoc decisions after the fact because you thought I was gaming the system. If the policy isn’t right, change the policy.

        1. Joey*

          No. If you’re forever toeing the line of termination you deserve to be terminated. I suspect there would also be performance problems.

          Although I’ve termed people for exactly that in a structured environment-toeing the line too many times.

          Remember, policies won’t cover every single scenario so there has to be someone to step in when necessary to do the right thing.

        2. Josh S*

          I see your perspective from the employee’s point of view. If the system is there and I’m not afoul of the system, then why should I have harsher-than-prescribed penalties?

          On the other hand, I prefer building a policy that treats employees as adult professionals rather than immature jerks. That way, the majority of people feel respected and treated reasonably. If, on occasion, an immature jerk arises, it is entirely appropriate to take individual action for something that is an individual problem.

          It’s the sort of situation where dress code for women permits sleeveless dresses/shirts. If 99% of the company uses that appropriately with professional garb, but one person consistently wears halter tops, tank tops, spaghetti straps, or tube tops, the answer is to deal with that ONE person to either enforce the norms or face consequences, NOT to prohibit sleeveless dresses/shirts for the other 99%.

          This is the same thing. These people weren’t toeing the line of termination because of simple mishaps like flat tires. They were constantly saying, “You know what? I have the late days available, so I’m just going to ignore the responsibility I have to be there when work starts.” The answer isn’t to change the policy to punish the 99% who use it properly, but to address the individual who is abusing the policy.

          1. Rob Aught*

            Interesting how they managed to get to work on time while they were on notice.

            You do have to draw the line somewhere. When people are abusing the policy, the policy needs to be changed. It would be easy enough to implement a 3 strikes and you’re out rule. Basically if they go “on notice” a 3rd time, they’re gone.

    3. Lindsay J*

      I wouldn’t necessarily say make his first few weeks relaxing before you judge him – you can tell a lot about an employee and their attitude towards work in the first few weeks.

      However, I would agree with giving him a break. He was late once (even though it did happen to be his first day) and first days are stressful. He also did call and sound mortified, which means that he followed procedures and showed an important level of concern about the problem.

      If he shows up on time for the next few weeks I would wipe the incident from my mind entirely. Sometimes s*** happens and it doesn’t say anything about your work ethic or attitude or how good of an employee you are.

      However, if it does happen again in the next few weeks I would have a talk with him about the expectations – that he show up on time each day – and what he can do to ensure those expectations are met in the future.

    4. hamster*

      I had a job where i chose to be late on a daily basis. It was not about flex time there, but the fact that i was used to sleep late every evening and i knew i had mobile e-mail just in case any critical issue arose in the first 20 minutes. I would not write off a person after 1 day of being late. I have encountered great and punctual people who were late because of bad trafic or problems at home . He just seems unucky

    5. danr*

      I was thinking that if the new employee didn’t take a sleeping pill, we’d have a letter about a new employee falling asleep at work….

      I’d say, accept the apologies and ignore it. And don’t remind him about it unless it becomes a pattern.

    6. Calibrachoa*

      There is a difference between “oh I will show up late” and “what am I wiling to do to be there on time?” Say the bus I am taking is stuck in traffic and I am late – do I get off the bus and take a taxi rest of the way, to show up on time? Or do I suck it up and call in to say hey this happened? In the first few weeks of a job I would do the former, finances allowing, but later on depending on the work situation I’d be more inclined to show up late.

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    The first day nerves, which were Night-Before nerves is something I can relate to. Being late on the first day is one of those things that you hope never happens to you. However, aside from oversleeping, there are a number of other factors, such as transport. (e.g. Bus A takes you almost to the door of the office but goes past a number of buildings with traffic blocking the road in front).

    It may very well in this case be that the new employee was so embarrassed at being late that they are very punctual from then on.

    1. Kate*

      Agree it’s something to keep an eye on but definitely no need for remedial action beyond a chat with the employee. Hopefully it will be a one off or at least a very rare occurrence. The fact they called in and sounded mortified is with any luck a sign it may be.

  6. Josh S*

    4. “Hell, owning money to anyone is generally a bad idea unless you’re willing to risk that you might not see that money again.”

    Unless your name is “Vito” and you enjoy breaking knee caps. Then, make all the loans you like. Just remember to tell people that the juice is on.

    1. Jessa*

      And if you DO loan money to ANYONE, family, friend, whatever, get it in writing and be prepared to write it off if it’s someone really close to you. But nobody should be lending what’s essentially a stranger money without an agreement in hand

      I’d also have possibly checked with HR as to if there’s a policy about this stuff. In some government jobs this could be problematic.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I no longer loan money — I only give it, and give what I can afford to not get back. If I give and forget about it, it doesn’t hurt the relationship, and the onus on paying back is on the receiver. That way, if it is paid back, I am pleasantly surprised (and I get a lot of pleasant surprises).

      2. Cassie*

        I lent a coworker $1800. We wrote out a loan agreement and a payment plan (like $600 per month). After she made the first payment, she asked to borrow more money (her car needed fixing). So I lent her some more.

        She wasn’t able to make the set payments, so I would get checks for like $50 or $100 here and there. She then asked for even more money – I finally wised up and told her that I couldn’t.

        And then she retired! Before she retired, she gave me a few checks (post-dated) and asked that I not deposit them until the date on the check. I “forgave” about $300 on the loan, just because I wanted it to be finished and done with and couldn’t take anymore of her excuses on why she couldn’t pay.

        If I could go back in time, I obviously would have made different choices. It’s just that I feel bad – this was a coworker, after all, and if I was in a situation where I was cash-strapped, I would be most grateful for someone helping me out. At the same time, I was naive to think that she would be able to make the payments (on top of whatever monthly bills she has)

  7. Rayner*

    Psst. Number two’s answer reads ‘I’m not an accountant so I can speak with authority…’ Is that meant to be ‘can’t speak with authority’?

    1. Anony1234*

      Also, it reads in the response that “owning money to anyone is a bad idea” but should read “loaning.”

  8. Andrew*

    For the physical therapist worker; why did you refer to him as a ‘doctor?’ A physical therapist is a physical therapist, and a physician is a doctor.

    Alot of ancillary providers (nurses, physician assistants, etc) seem to like to encourage being called “doctor,” but unless you have spent the seven plus years earning that experience – or another doctorate level degree – it is misrepresentation; which is unethical and against the law.

    This might seen like a small point to some, but when you are yourself a physician it will seem like a very big deal. And it should be.

    1. Lindsay J*

      I believe Physical Therapy is a doctorate level degree, so you can be a doctor of physical therapy.

      I think it is similar to a doctor of Audiology, in that you do not go to med school and do a clinical fellowship year rather than intern/resident sequence, however it is a doctorate and they are entitled to call themselves doctors if they so desire.

      A nurse, physician’s assistant, or other non-doctorate educated person calling themselves a doctor is certainly illegal, though.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Though I will add that when appropriate a PT should be clarifying that they are a Doctor of Physical Therapy rather than a medical doctor, and should not be referring to them self as a physician, because AFAIK physician is a protected term and a PT is not a physician.

        1. Jamie*

          I agree that ethically they should go out of their way to make it clear in a medical setting. In college if Dr. X was head of the English department I’m not going to assume ‘physician’ in an emergency, but the person to whom everyone is referring as doctor in a lab coat in a medical facility …that would be a more reasonable assumption.

          Basically in a situation where I care whether or not you have a prescription pad I want total clarity.

          1. #2 OP here*

            The “doctor” in question is a doctor of chiropractic and naturopathic physician, and is the clinical director of the practice. There was also an MD and a licensed physical therapist on site.

              1. Laura*

                Depends on where you are. In Washington State, there are very rigorous academic programs with solid requirements and in general is a well respected field. Chiropractic though is pretty mixed.

                1. Ash*

                  Regardless of how rigorous any academic program is, when you are a “doctor” of “vital energy”, I don’t think you should be taken seriously. It all says Looney Toons to me.

                  From Wiki: “Naturopathy, or naturopathic medicine, is a form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called vital energy or vital force guides bodily processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and adaptation.”


          2. Loose Seal*

            Jamie, in a lot of states (maybe all of them?) veterinarians can write you a prescription. :)

        2. Jess*

          Just for the sake of Clarification: in the health fields there are several types of Doctor. Which one you get typically will be determined by what you are in for. They are all entitled to be called Dr. and do not need to go out of their way to say to all that enter their presence “Hi, I am not a Medical Doctor”.

          What they are a doctor of can normally be seen in their full title, normally on the coat, name tag, card, or a practice sign. Its specifically so they can be identified for what they are rather than to prevent classification as what they are not. MDs will do it too.

          Anyway a brief list of health related Drs include
          MD, DO, DMD, DDS, DPT, DC, DNP
          And you can find them all in a hospital. (DC’s are rare in that setting but I have seen it) And of this list, only the DC and the DPT can not prescribe you medication.

          1. Jamie*

            I won’t argue that people shouldn’t do their own research into any medical professional treating them – because they should…but many, many people do not and I’ve seen this in some elderly people where they do not question.

            And they may be doctors of chiropractic, but think it skates a very ethical gray line for me if they were to present as the equivalent of a medical doctor…and many do. I had a temp job at a medical accreditation verification place and dealt with many, MANY chiropractors who will insist that there is no difference between themselves and an actual doctor.

            Anecdata to be sure – but it was such a pervasive sentiment coupled along with people willing to trust and not verify I do think they should go out of their way to make sure you know exactly with whom you are dealing.

          2. TheSnarkyB*

            This is wrong. I don’t know what all of those abbreviations stand for, so I won’t try to speak to that. But not all non-MD doctoral degrees are allowed to be referred to (ethically or legally) under the umbrella of “Doctor,” and studying something at a doctoral level doesn’t mean you can call yourself Doctor in all circumstances either. For instance, it’s a violation of ethical code for someone with a PhD in Social Psych and a Counseling License to call themselves “Dr. So & So” in their mental health practice. There may be similar rules about disclosure when it’s a PhD in Clinical/Counseling Psychology vs. MD (psychiatry) issue.
            Yes, there are several types of doctor within the medical field. But no, they’re not all entitled to just go by “Doctor” without further clarification required .

            1. Jess*

              The “Requirement” is normally satisfied simply by printing
              Your Name, MD (or whatever degree you hold) on your cards and coat

              The Rules are that you can not falsely represent yourself as something you not. SO You can not dispense medical advice if you are only a Psychologist. however. But you still are entitled to the title Doctor.

              The Issue is that you are equating the Terms Doctor and Physician. The two are NOT interchangeable.

              Physician is a specific type of medical practitioner.

              Doctor is an honorific proclaiming its bearer is an expert in a field or study or practice. Did you know that a Lawyer is LEGALLY entitled to be referred to as Doctor So and So? Reason why is the Law Degree is Called A Juris Doctor or JD.

              The Term Doctor has existed since long before it was even used in medicine.

              MD Medical Doctor
              DO Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine
              DMD Dental Medical Doctor
              DDS Doctor of Dental Surgery
              DPT Doctor of Physical Therapy
              DC Doctor of Chiropractic
              DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice

        1. Chinook*

          I worked with nurses with doctorates and,w hile they liked to be called Dr., they also made it clear that they were RNs and not MDs.

        2. Meg*

          I agree. Several of the nurses in my department have PhDs, and it’s generally encouraged that the NPs do so (I also work in a specialty hospital).

          Anyone who has a doctorate can be called doctor; as long as they’re not being called a physician when they’re not, it’s fine.

    2. Duh*

      A PT degree is a doctoral degree. It is a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy). Do your research before you chime in with incorrect accusations.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        Not completely true. You can be a licensed, practicing physical therapist (at least in my state, and I’m pretty sure most others) with a masters degree. My sister-in-law is a PT, and only has a masters.

        1. Jamie*

          Thanks – I was wondering about this. I know a couple of PTs and they have masters and not PhDs.

          1. Anonymous*

            Field has changed in the last ten years. PhDs in PT went from rare to standard. Now, DPT is the “terminal” & expected degree for new PTs. For now, most PTs, who perforce graduated before this change, have bachelors or masters degrees & are considered fully certified. This also happened with the development of the masters in PT 20-25 years ago.

        2. TheSnarkyB*

          Duh, your comment and name now are as useless as a Chocolate Teapot in an NYC July.

        3. Lindsay J*

          The field is transitioning right now, I believe, so many practitioners who have been in the field have a masters (or even bachelors) but most students graduating now have a clinical doctorate.

  9. JoAnna*

    I had to call in absent during my first week of work at one of my jobs because my husband accidentally took both sets of car keys to work with him one day, and we didn’t realize it until it was too late for him to turn back (at the time, he left several hours before me because he worked about 2 hours away). I was absolutely mortified but thankfully my supervisor and HR were good sports about it.

    1. junipergreen*

      Another first day horror story: the night before my FIRST day of my FIRST full-time job, I got horrible food poisoning. Even after the worst of it was over, my stomach cramps were so bad I couldn’t stand up straight. I was determined to make it into the office, though, so I took a cab I could barely afford to avoid public transportation. During the bumping, jostling ride through stop-and-go rush hour traffic, I worked to keep my Gatorade down, and of course in the process of clutching my stomach… one of my shirt buttons fell off (right above my waist line).

      I slumped into the office right on time… but hunched over and clutching my shirt closed. My new manager took one look at me and sent me home. I’m still not sure whether that made me look like a particularly dedicated employee or just a foolish one…

      1. COT*

        I called in sick to my very first day at a new job. I had started a new medication the day before (bad idea, in retrospect) and the unexpected side effects made me so sick that I spent all night throwing up. I was feeling better by morning but had barely slept, so I knew I was in no shape to start a new job. I was mortified to call in sick, but my boss was understanding and it wasn’t a big deal. Life happens, and especially when we’re stressed about starting a new job.

        1. MeganO*

          I did this once too – I got a really nasty bug just before I started. I felt awful about it, but luckily I was mortified and I sounded like death, so it was obvious I was really ill. In a weird coincidence, I got my first-ever sinus infection in my last week of that same job and had to miss a few days. By that point, everyone knew that I wouldn’t make that up, so that was good. I was still recovering when I started the next job, even with taking a week off between.
          Man. I had almost forgotten about that. I’ve been really lucky not to get sick like that in a few years. I agree – cut this poor person some slack.

        2. Ruffingit*

          I started a new job on a Monday. On the Sunday before, I was struck with the worst flu I had had in years. I wanted to die. But I went in that first day anyway. I was literally sitting in my chair shaking because I had chills, fever, etc. Yeah, I know, bad idea to come in and expose everyone else, but then I was young and really needed the job.

          I called in sick the second day and heard from a friend that one of my co-workers was bitching about how lazy I was, etc. because I didn’t come in. That is until SHE got the flu a couple of days later. After that, she didn’t bitch anymore about my missing that day since she missed two or three in a row to get over it. I only missed the one.

          So yeah…first day illness, over sleeping, etc. Mortifying, but it happens to the best of us!

    2. JennS*

      On my first week at a job, my dog was hit by a car. Three people stopped (the person that hit him kept going). One lady called and said she was taking him to X animal hospital. I told my boss why I had to go and left quickly. I was concerned what he would think (not everyone is an “animal person”). When I came back to the office he was very nice and asked how my dog was doing. When I mentioned the name of the animal hospital, it turns out that it was his sister’s office. That opened the door for a more personal conversation and he became even more understanding. By the way, my dog was okay (he had hip surgery but that was it).

  10. Blue Dog*

    Once got a flat tire on my way to work the first day. When I opened the trunk, I found my car had a teeny spare that is blown up with a pump you stick in the cigarette lighter. Problem was, there was no pump in the used car I had purchased. It took a very long time to get towed to a place and get a tire. I figured for sure I would be sacked on my first day. Fortunately, my new employer was very understanding.

    Ironically, it was one of the last times they were understanding. I left the job after 8 months — one of the worst experiences of my life.

      1. Chinook*

        A used car that is trying to tell you something by deflating a tire? Did she perchance by a VW bug named Herbie?

  11. Daisy*

    3’s kind of a strange question. She could have thanked the boss in the time it took to ask AAM. Does she have a limited supply of thank yous that she needs to ration?

    1. Anne*

      I’m sure she was wondering whether it was appropriate or not. Many things we see on this blog could just be done in the time it takes to AAM, but the point of writing in is that the OP isn’t sure whether they should or not.

      1. Daisy*

        I don’t mean generally why do people ask questions to AAM, I just honestly can’t imagine the argument against being normally, averagely polite. You thank someone who’s handed you a pen or held a door open. Why would you begrudge that, with a few words extra, for a raise?

        1. Cat*

          She probably wondered something like “If I make a point of thanking my boss for this raise, will it imply that I think it’s a gift or not-earned?” or something similar. There are a lot of complicated social nuances at work (as in the rest of life).

          1. KayDay*

            That’s my thought as well. (And it’s also why a polite and concise “thank you for the raise” is appropriate, but a profuse thank you complete with a hand-written note and flowers would not be.)

    2. Jazzy Red*

      #3 sounds like of like “I hate my boss, but gave me a raise, and I really REALLY hate him!! Do I HAVE to thank him?”

      The only answer that works is “YES”.

  12. Anonymously Anonymous*

    #4. Agreeing with Allison.

    Also adding..

    Did the two of you write up some type of agreement? If so you can take her to small claims court and if you win, you have her employment information, so you can collect by filing for a wage execution. If it was a under $300 I would chalk it up to a lesson learned…

      1. Chinook*

        And if you are lending someone $1,000, you should definitely be getting something in writing.

        1. Jessa*

          This so much this. Never loan money without writing it down. It doesn’t have to be fancy – one of those TV arbitration judges used to say (and I think it was Judy Scheindlin, but it might have been Marilyn Millian) crayon and toilet paper. ANYTHING. But get it in writing.

        2. Brightwanderer*

          I would guess that it might not have been loaned all in one lump sum – maybe a couple of hundred on different occasions, until it adds up to $1000 and OP starts to wonder if she’s getting it back.

          1. Anonymously Anonymous*

            I don’t think so because once you ask for $200 and then ask for $50 before making good on the $200, *my* answer would be no. Unless there is some type of relationship; I don’t see that happening. MAybe that’s the case here.

      2. the gold digger*

        Heck, I had a written agreement with my mom when I borrowed money to buy a car. I made out an amortization schedule and paid her the T-bill rate, which was a lot better than the 18% my bank wanted to charge.

        1. Chinook*

          I remember as a teen my parents getting their mortgage from my grandparents (the interest rate was cheaper than the bank for a mortgage and better than a savings plan, so it was win-win) and my mother making a point of showing us children that there was a written agreement, complete with payment schedule. She wanted to show us kids that, if you are going to mix family and money, you needed to treat it like business and not take it personally (though my grandmother did say they could never foreclose if my parents couldn’t pay because we woudl have ended up movign in with them :).

  13. Katie the Fed*

    For #1 – I urge you to have a chat and then let it go. First day nerves can be severe for some people. Think about it like this: at least you know he cares!

    The best employee I ever had fell asleep on his first day. Like full on sleeping and snoring. I had a chat with him and it turns out he’d been up all night stressing too. He was the smartest, hardest working employee I ever had and it never happened again.

    You can always fire this guy in a few weeks if he doesn’t work out. But give him a second chance.

  14. shellbell*

    I sort of disagree with the #4 answer. Yes, the coworker should pay back the 1000$ and she is wrong for not doing so. However, the work place is not the right place try to collect that debt. If that is what is happening (unclear), it is wrong and hr might actually care. The debt is between the two coworker and isn’t the concern earn of hr. However, if the op is hounding the debtor at work or making the debtor feel like she has avoid the op or that is she being harassed, that is a problem that might concern hr. Don’t bring this problem into the work place.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Agreed. The OP needs to take this out of the workplace. Frankly, I’d probably just go with the route of getting a lawyer to write a demand letter at this point, which will lay out the collection activities that will follow if the co-worker doesn’t pay within the time frame set in the letter.

      As a courtesy, I might tell the co-worker before doing this. Something along the lines of “Look, I need you to pay the money back to me by X date. If you don’t do so, I will need to initiate legal action. I’d rather not do that because we’re co-workers so can we get this resolved so we can both move on?”

    2. EngineerGirl*

      Is anyone else bothered that the debtor person knew enough about the rules on debt collection to know that it was forbidden to have collections call at work? As though, oh, they’d defaulted before?

  15. Jamie*

    $1000? If that was a typo and it was a 10 for lunch, fine…but a $1000? My personal rule is that I don’t lend money with the expectation of seeing it again, in my head its always a gift (my husband disagrees ..guess who the kids come to when they are short on cash?) but I just can’t imagine a scenario where this happens.

    That said, its personal and not work and if you asking her at work is interfering with the job then go to small claims court or whatever, but if it were another awkward personal problem like your ex husband left you for her it would be he same thing…if the personal stuff is too much maybe you can’t work together but you’d still need to keep the drama out of the office.

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      I totally agree. The OP can’t keep bugging the coworker at work about this money. They have to take care of this outside of work. I agree they should take this person to small claims court. And hopefully this is a lesson they have learned. Don’t “lend” people money. We can go on and on about how awful the coworker is, etc., but it’s evident her attitude and behavior here is possibly the reason why she was at work begging for money. She had no one else in her personal life to go to for help.

      1. Jessa*

        Yes, there are collection rules, and to some extent they ONLY apply to collection companies, but they do somewhat apply to private parties too. You cannot harass someone at work. If they’re not paying, take them to court. But you could lose the ability to collect the debt if you don’t collect it in a proper, reasonable manner.

        Plus disrupting the workplace could get you fired.

        1. Jamie*

          Not to mention how irritating this personal drama can be to the co-workers who are uninvolved. If I need my numbers from employees A and B I really don’t care if A loaned B money, slept with B’s husband, or if they are planning on opening a B&B together and can’t agree on the pattern for the curtains.

          Either work together and get me my numbers or you now have another problem which is wholly work related.

        2. Dan*

          All of those “rules” (I’m thinking of the FDCPA among others) apply to *third party* agencies. The original creditor has a lot more leeway. In this case, the OP is the original creditor.

  16. Anonymous*

    #1 – At least he was honest about it, didn’t make up excuses, or lie and so that to me shows some integrity and he was mortified. I would cut him some slack and only make a big stink if it happens again.

    1. anon o*

      I hope OP#1 gives us an update in a few months to let us know how this person worked out! I’m a bit curious.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        He actually emailed me to tell me that it got a little weirder — I’m hoping he’ll post here, but in case not, this was the update:

        “He was scheduled at 8:00am and finally showed at 9:42am. My boss and I had decided that we were going to call it if he didn’t show by 9:45am.

        Then, about an hour or two following his arrival, he asks me if I can advance him $50.00 from his first paycheck. When I advised him that we really didn’t do that at our company, he asked if he could borrow $20.00 from me! Mind you, I only met this guy once before for his interview.

        I know it’s tough to be hard up for cash and the 3-week wait for that first paycheck at a new job can be painful, but I can’t believe he had the nerve to ask me that after his very late arrival this morning.

        Needless to say, we’ll give him another chance, but will be watching him very closely. One more slip up and he won’t be passing probation. That point has been clearly conveyed to him, too.”

        1. Cat*

          Okay, that’s really weird. I feel like I kind of want to retract my benefit of the doubt comment below.

        2. fposte*

          Wow. I might at least ask him if there’s a crisis at home that we should know about, but it sounds more like he’s not getting what’s appropriate in a workplace. Hopefully his getting that point conveyed to him will set him on the right path.

        3. danr*

          After this additional information, I’ll change my answer above. I think you have to go with your instincts and I’m glad you’ve made his position clear.

        4. TBoT*

          Oh man. This follow-up completely changes my gut response of “Late on a first day is a good employee’s worst nightmare, so give him a break and keep an eye on it” to “I’m not sure this person knows how to have a job.”

  17. SW*

    #4 Oooooof. I’m with Allison that lending it in the first place was a bad idea, but I’m sorry to hear that it’s not turning out well for you. $1000 is a lot of money. I’m curious — what made you decide to lend it to her?

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      There is more to this story that was either edited out by AAM or left out by the OP. A coworker? She didn’t say a friend. A coworker. I want to know what is really going on here too.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          I do. My best friend lost her job, then her home. She has very serious health problems, no insurance, doesn’t qualify for assistance, can’t get Medicaid because our state has run out of Medicaid money, and I don’t want her to die. She calls it a loan, I call it a gift. As long as the Lord provides money to me, I’ll share it with her.

          For anyone else, I’d put it in writing.

  18. Jamie*

    #5 – I don’t see the satisfaction as a problem as much as the timing. There is a significant (albeit minority) segment out there who will resist technological change no matter how awesome or flawlessly implemented…because its different and there is a knee jerk fear of change that kicks in and it’s powerful. I don’t care if the new software can turn straw into gold and make delicious cupcakes shoot out of your printer (is someone working on that? They oughta be) there will be people who need more than a typical amount of time to acclimate.

    There are technophobes out there who learn exactly what they need to know to do their jobs, and resent the hell out of you for changing it and making them learn something new. And yes, these people will skew the hell out of your satisfaction survey if you are too vague.

    I wouldn’t do it until everyone was past the initial learning curve. For a minor application a couple of weeks for something big like an ERP a full year. And I’d be very specific in the questions. Make sure they aren’t ambiguously worded so its clear that if they think something stinks whether its you or the program.

    Or you could do what I do and skip the survey. Just assume as long as no one has cut your brake lines or shown up at the quarterly meeting with a stake and a lighter demanding you be tried for witchcraft you’re okay.

    Be nice, be patient as you hold their hands and guide them into the light…but don’t take their fear of tech personally and don’t let them fiddle with your performance rating because of badly worded surveys. Just remember its not always easy working for the greater good…it’s a rewarding if not stress free calling.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I think “happiness” is a poor metric to ask people to weigh in on for the reasons Jamie outlines above. I think that the survey should have specific questions related to the functionality of the new software and the amount of time it takes people to do their work using it. (You might do a pre- and post- with the old software and new software–after training, of course–to see if there are significant differences.)

      As for digital cupcakes, I thought NASA was working on that 3D printer for pizza for the Mars trip….probably not that hard to add cupcakes to the queue… ;-)

      1. Liz*

        You don’t want to encourage people to compare the new with the old too much, even after training, because people often feel comfortable with the old and resentful that they have to change well-known, established work practices with the new. And waiting till after training doesn’t help. A year after implementation, as Jamie said, would be more realistic.

        I was still hearing “I miss X; it was so much better” 5 years after we moved to a different system that actually was better, just because they had spent so much more time in the old system.

        1. KellyK*

          Definitely true. I consider myself a pretty quick learner and fairly adaptable where tech is concerned, and I still griped a little bit that Word 2007 was so dramatically different than 2003 and the same with Windows 7 vs XP (even though I think both are improvements now that I’ve gotten used to them). What’s familiar has an automatic advantage just because it is familiar.

          Since you haven’t implemented the new tech yet, I think *now* is the time to do the first functionality survey. Ask how long it takes to do specific tasks, how often people have to consult the help or ask a coworker for help completing a task, and other measures of functionality for the *current* system. Then, after people have had plenty of time to ramp up, ask the same questions about the new software, so you can compare the results meaningfully.

          1. Chinook*

            The idea of a current functionality survey is great, especially since it will give you a baseline for how the new tech is working down the road. It would also be a good time to find out if people are having specific issues with the current technology as well if there are things they just can’t live without and then using that info to create training that shows them how to do what they used to do and what new things they can do.

        2. Anon*

          I still hear it about old rap sheets in New York–the lawyers who worked here when they had the old style still wax nostalgic about how the new ones are impossible to read, etc. I was trained with the new ones but have seen old ones, and the new ones are about 1 million times easier to read.

      2. Chinook*

        I agree that “happiness” is a poor metric for measuring the success of a new software implementation for the reasons that Jamie mentioend, but I get where the boss is coming from. He basically wants to ensure that the implementation process takes into account that the employees are humans and that there are ways to do it that make them feel respected vs. ways that are more of “suck it up buttercup – deal with it or get out of my way” and doesn’t want the latter. It also gives the OP the lattitude to ensure proper training methods which require more time and expense. In fact, the OP now has a powerful tool to use when the boss asks why it is taking so long – she can point out that happiness is a goal that takes time and various methods to ensure and, as a result, she needs to do X, Y and Z at the same time as A, B and C.

        BTW, don’t forget that supplying real cupcakes at a lunch ‘n’ learn a few weeks after the program is up and running so that people can ask questions will go a long way in upping the happiness score, especially if the the survey is given out after the cupcakes!

        1. Runon*

          Oh we totally did this, everyone got cupcakes when they participated in our rollout. Definitely add cupcakes to your list. (Plus since a manager baked them all it make that manager much more approachable which helped with other problems.)

        1. Anonymous*

          No, it will make something almost exactly, but not quite completely unlike Earl Grey tea.

      1. Jamie*

        I am sorry I read the article – many a great idea has died because people (and by people I mean me) can’t get past the idea of eating insect powder.

        Sometimes the less you know the better…

        1. AgilePhalanges*

          They also say “from animals over, say, to insects” in the article linked. Um, last I knew, insects are part of the animal kingdom.

          But Jamie, and others who aren’t already aware, if you don’t want to eat insects, that will severely limit your food options, and you may also not want to read any further. :-)

          There are a couple of food ingredients that are actually made from insects, and then there is the issue of the presence of insects in food just because.

          If you eat anything with a red color that claims to be “natural” color, there’s a very good chance is cochineal, which comes from beetles (the other major option for “natural” red food dye is beet juice, which is what my company uses in our natural product line).

          Also, if you eat a food that is pretty glossy, it may be coated in food-grade shellac. I was surprised there was such a thing, and googled it, and the results were…interesting. Apparently there is a lac bush, which gets covered in lac bugs, which excrete a substance from between their exoskeleton plates. To make food-grade shellac, they harvest the entire shrubs or branches from them, then process the heck out of them to extract and refine those secretions, but basically, shiny candy or other food products could very well be coated in what is essentially bug sweat.

          Finally, any product with grain-based ingredients DOES contains ground-up insects, it’s just a fact of life that when grain is harvested, stored, and processed, you can’t get all the bugs out.

          As a vegetarian, I just try not to think about these things. You can’t avoid everything in life. :-)

          1. Jamie*

            But Jamie, and others who aren’t already aware, if you don’t want to eat insects, that will severely limit your food options, and you may also not want to read any further. :-)

            I do know this…that’s why I said the less I know the better. :)

            However, my love of candy is far more powerful than my aversion to bug sweat.

    2. AP*

      NASA is indeed working on a 3D printer that will let astronauts print food in space. If there aren’t any cupcakes I don’t want to hear about it!

      1. Hi!*

        Here is an article about a team of doctors using a 3-D printer to build a tracheal splint for a baby with severe breathing problems.

  19. SC in SC*

    #1 Please cut the person some slack. I had a very similar thing happen to me when I first started working. I started on a Friday which was the first of the month. Monday was a holiday so I was just coming off a three day weekend and still not used to getting up early for a long commute. Needless to say I was mortified but my boss was very understanding and didn’t make a big deal about it other than to give me some friendly grief. I’d let this one go. If it happens again, then I would have the serious discussion.

  20. Colette*

    #1 – Didn’t we have the same question from the other perspective not long ago? (The question was about someone who was fired for being late on the first day after taking a sleep aid the night before, I think.)

  21. Xay*

    #7 AAM advice is dead on – if possible, complete an online degree at an established brick and mortar school. Do your research, recently for profit schools have started buying older colleges and using their established reputation to appear more respectable.

    I’m beginning an online master’s degree at a large established public university that is highly regarded in my field. I did a lot of careful research and focused on schools that are certified by accrediting organizations specific to my field and whose online programs were equivalent and had interchangeable classes with on-campus classes (as opposed to universities who contract out their online degree programs as a completely separate entity).

    I’m very wary of for profit universities – I’ve watched too many family members enroll and leave with a mountain of debt, a worthless degree, and/or credits that won’t transfer. The goal of too many for profits (and non profits for that matter) is to push you through and take as much federal aid as they can get and your academic development is an afterthought at best. As I mentioned up thread, for profit school graduate degrees are frowned upon in my field because those schools do not make an effort to meet the certification requirements for the field, even just through their curriculum plans.

    1. Chinook*

      My mother tells me how, in the 60’s, she wanted to go to a for-profit school to learn business skills. My grandmother convinced her to check with where she wanted to work (a bank) to see if that school was acceptable. They told her that it was a waste of money as they would train her to do what she needed to do. It seems that the advice hasn’t changed in 50 years – check with potential employers to see what they will accept instead of basing it on what the schools claim.

  22. Rob Aught*

    #1 – Employee was late
    One occurrence is hardly a pattern. I’d make note of it and move on, especially if I’d already talked to the employee. What’s the big deal?

    I’m aware there are places with strict attendance policies but if you ding someone for being late once, first day or not, you’re probably going to induce a morale problem that will cost more productivity than the occasional stray.

    #5 – Measuring staff happiness
    This will fail. Badly. I’ve rolled out many software packages and no matter how good the product and how fine tuned it was to the specific business you are introducing change and most people will resist change. Even if it does everything they need it to (it won’t) the staff will still be uncomfortable and will probably complain or indicate they don’t like it.

    If this is really important, best to wait a few months and then conduct any sort of survey around it.

    #7 – Online degrees
    To be fair in regards to Alison’s comments, a lot of brick-and-mortar universities are under fire right now for the quality of their education compared to their cost. There is no part of higher education right now that is without fault.

    I think the school and their reputation is more important.

    Fair warning though, there is a fair bit of elitism that goes around. I think part of that is rooted in Alison’s comment as well. For profits are not always cranking out a bad product but I have worked with a number of individuals who have online degrees and as workers go they are good performers.

    However, I have worked with people who sneer at state schools.

    There is no way to really gauge this question. The hiring managers’ views can vary greatly and a school with a good reputation in one area might have a horrible reputation in another.

    To be honest though, most companies I’ve worked for just care that you have a degree.

  23. Employment lawyer*

    I loaned a coworker money and she won’t pay me back

    A coworker owes me $1,000, and every time I ask for the money she avoids me so as not to pay. Also she told me that she will take me to Human Resources. Can I get fired if she does?
    This is one of those things that needs to be done in writing.

    DO NOT use this letter, but consider writing something like this:

    Dear CoWorker, I am making my final polite demand to recover the $1000 which I lent you on January 1, and which you promised you would pay back in “four days.” While I would regret the need to take formal action, I am not willing to lose the $1,000 and will be forced to take you to small claims court if you do not pay in full by ____, or make formal payment arrangements by that date.

    You have previously threatened to take me to H.R. While I cannot control your choices, I will point out that this debt is unrelated to work. The fact that you borrowed money (and the fact that you are refusing to pay it back) has nothing to do with your work performance, or mine.

    I respect your desire to avoid personal discussion about this issue. I will not try to speak to you further. However, this will only change the manner of communication, not the actual demand. This will be the final request before I file a lawsuit.

    I hope that you will agree to pay me back promptly, or to discuss a formal written payment agreement.

    etc, etc.

    1. Nikki R*

      But, don’t give it to her at work…as stated upthread, keep it a separate issue going forward.

    2. Chinook*

      Great letter but definitely send it from your home email address and,if you have it, to her home email. If you have no other way of contacting her, you would have to send it to her work address but I would a line in the letter stating that you would prefer not to discuss this work and are only using her work address as it is the only way you have of contacting her in writing.

    3. Jessa*

      The problem is, debt or no debt, not paid or paid, the borrower has a right to be free of harassment at work. HR can and will come down on the lender for this. They NEED to stop bringing it up at work.

      1. fposte*

        Even if it’s an FDCPA-relevant debt, though, the collector has to stop calling *when told*–they’re not forbidden to contact a first time. And I don’t think that this would actually be covered by the FDCPA, since the OP isn’t somebody who regularly collects on debt for a fee; I suspect there’s nothing to stop her but good sense.

  24. Cat*

    I think this is the third letter/story I remember at this blog about someone getting fired or almost getting fired because they couldn’t sleep the night before starting a new job and then were late or fell asleep. (I’ve never done this, but I did once throw up in the bathroom of a Cosi across the street from my office out of sheer terror on my first day.) I feel like we should all grant people some first day slack; starting a new job is legitimately terrifying.

    1. Anonymous*

      I regularly used to get sick (ahem, GI-related) the night before the first day of school/work. Nerves-related, naturally. If it happened morning-of, I’d be inclined to call it “oversleeping,” rather than overshare with “I failed to budget for the 2 hours I spent on the toilet this morning.” Just an additional plug for cutting the poor guy some slack.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        For whatever it’s worth, most employers would much rather hear “I’m having a bout of sickness” than “I overslept.” Oversleeping, rightly or wrongly, is associated with laziness or lack of care.

          1. TBoT*

            I agree with this completely. I had an employee who was on a prescription medication to treat a sleep disorder, and during the first weeks of taking it had real trouble waking up. Even though I knew this was a medical problem and was working to accommodate her, I had to consciously fight my mind’s immediate association between “overslept” with “irresponsible and lazy.”

    2. Chinook*

      I agree about cutting someone slack, especially if they sound mortified once they contact you. I once never showed up for a temp job because I had a kidney stone attack on the bus to work (the bus driver let me off and a kind bus rider stayed with me until DH could pick me up to take me to the hospital and the driver arranged to have the next commuter bus stop at the unscheduled stop to ensure the rider could get to work). I was mortified to loose a contract job like that but the agency was phenomonaly understanding. If this had been my first day of work, I couldn’t have done anything different and would have been the most grateful and concienceious employee ever if my employer was understanding.

      1. Cat*

        Temp jobs are particularly hard because you’re doing so many first days of work and you probably don’t have time to scope anything out ahead of time. I once was an hour late to my first day of a temp job that was in the outskirts of town where the roads were torturous (and I wasn’t particularly familiar with them). It turned out that the directions I printed out skipped a key turn entirely so I couldn’t find the road I was supposed to be on. It was post-cell phone but pre-smart phone, so I called the agency and said I’d be late, but nobody was able to give me actual directions. I don’t remember how I ended up finding the place, but I do remember it being incredibly stressful.

    3. Ash*

      I think you’re overstating things a bit when you say “terrifying”. Yes, people can be anxious or nervous, but unless you’re agoraphobic or something, there is no reason to be literally terrified of starting a new job. I feel like if you’re so scared of something new that you throw up, you may want to see a medical doctor.

        1. Ash*

          Granted, but when your reaction to a situation (that isn’t gorey or something like that) is vomiting for reasons other than being physically ill due to a virus/bacteria/etc., that’s A Bad Thing. Being terrified of new things is also A Bad Thing.

          1. Cat*

            I was being a bit cute and hyperbolic with “terrified” and I have always had a sensitive stomach. I was fine 5 minutes later and I can promise you it did not and continues not to impact my job performance; my pursuit of job opportunities; or my ability to start or seek out a new job. I appreciate your concern, but truly, I think you’re underestimating the degree to which perfectly okay people can have different and sometimes weird-to-you reactions to things.

            1. Jamie*

              ITA – vomiting is a common reaction to stress …at least for me. Once it’s over I’m okay – it’s just one of those things.

          2. TheBurg*

            There are plenty of people who get anxious to the point of vomiting; everyone’s bodies react to stress a bit differently. I don’t think it means that it’s necessarily A Bad Thing.

            1. KellyK*

              Definitely. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown up just from stress, but I definitely get the “stomach twisted in knots” sensation where it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility.

              1. KellyK*

                Also, “stress or nervousness” are a common enough cause of vomiting to be listed on WebMD’s “vomiting” page. It’s not like it requires mortal terror or an underlying disorder to get to that point.

                1. Jamie*

                  Some people just have a gag reflex that’s easier to trip and that may play a role in why some people get queasy and others actually throw up.

                  I can easily vomit just thinking about something gross…so just the act of being nauseated all I have to do is think about worst case scenario and it’s over.

                  You know how some people will get squeamish and say turn the channel, I’m going to throw up when something gross is on tv? Yeah – for many people it’s a figure of speech but my husband learned the hard way when I say turn off Criminal Minds RIGHT NOW I really freaking mean it.

                2. Editor*

                  An article about some research into reactions to divorce made a big impression on me in regard to stress and vomiting. It talked about how women reported feeling unhappy and depressed after being asked for a divorce, but men who were asked for a divorce didn’t report being depressed. Then the investigators talked to the individuals and found a lot of men weren’t reporting being depressed, but did tell the researchers that every morning they woke up, threw up, then went to work “not depressed.” So with vomiting, it’s YMMV all the way.

  25. Mike C.*

    For those who think that these for profit schools are a good thing for students and the tax payer, I suggest watching Frontline – “College, Inc”. Even if you are simply a tax payer, this will really upset you.

    Link in the response.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I saw that and it’s an excellent documentary about why these colleges are bad for everyone – tax payers and potential students.

  26. Jill Pinnella Corso*

    #2: If I understand the situation correctly, this is what’s happening. Your boss is having you calculate your own payroll taxes, then deduct them from your income, and he writes a check to you for that lower amount. The problem is that if he doesn’t submit those taxes you calculated and he “deducted” from your check, then when you go to file your taxes, you will be claiming a withholding credit for taxes deducted from your paycheck, but the IRS will have no record of these payments, and you’ll be stuck with the bill. I am highly skeptical, if this is his accounting method, that he is actually withholding your payroll taxes in a separate account, or even submitting them; especially if the practice is about to close. If I were you, I’d ask to be paid as an independent contractor, without taxes deducted, so you can make estimated payments on your own. (It gets more complicated for filing because you’ll have to pay self-employment tax but I think it’s worth it to avoid a potential audit.) I’d consult your tax preparer if you have one.

    1. Natalie*

      The OP can’t choose to be an independent contractor – the rules for 1099 vs W2 are set by the IRS. If the OP is coming into an office every day and doing typical office work, they are almost certainly not an independent contractor.

      1. #2 OP here*

        It doesn’t actually matter anymore, because I quit about two days after I sent my letter to Alison (it was just too dysfunctional for me to deal with). I was only employed there for two weeks, so hopefully there won’t be too much tax hassle, although I doubt I’ll get a W2.

        1. Chinook*

          OP #2, since you ahev already quit, would you considering calling the IRS to ensure your payroll taxes were submitted? I don’t know how it works in the US, but I can’t think that it would hurt to get in front of this. At the very least, you will knwo if you will be owing any taxes next year.

          1. Jessa*

            Good idea, because you don’t want to find this out at the end during tax season, especially if you won’t have the money then to remit the taxes. ALSO if you have to pay those yourself, then your boss actually owes you that money because they took it from you and you still had to pay it to the IRS. So if they’re going out of business, you want to be on record if they declare bankruptcy. I believe (not an accountant) but wages have priority over creditors.

            1. Natalie*

              And if you need copies of the checks, you can probably still pull them from your online account for free right now. I think my bank charges for copies after 3 months, and it’s pretty high – something like $10 per check copy.

    2. RG*

      The lack of a paystub is also troubling – many (? at least mine does) requires your employer to provide a paystub with certain information on it. If he’s not doing that, then he could be subject to fines.

      1. SerfinUSA*

        This can also make it hard to get loans. I was going through a refi and worked for a very unethical employer. Paychecks were on a company account, but stubs were handwritten. It was a real pain getting the income verification signed off, and just one more red flag on a bad place to work.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        Ours are online, but we can print them if we want to. I always check mine to make sure everything is OK, but a lot people here don’t.

  27. Felicia*

    #1 – there was a really bad accident on the first day of my new job that made traffic move slower than I’ve ever seen it, so even though i’d left at what would normally be earlier than necessary, I still ended up 30 minutes late. I called as soon as I saw the traffic, was mortified and apologetic, and then I was never late again. Sometimes stuff happens, and generally people are extra careful their first day (I’d left early!), so I’d think it’s more likely to be uncharacteristic.

  28. Natalie*

    For OP #7, just want to add to the chorus. One thing I’ve noticed is that for-profit admission materials tends to compare themselves to the “Animal House” version of non-profit colleges (i.e., small, residential campus, ivy covered buildings, nothing but 18-22 year olds, high tuition). There are certainly still plenty of colleges like that in the US, but there are also plenty of old colleges full of ivy-covered brick buildings that have evening/weekend programs or online programs for non-traditional students. There are also state schools that were practically founded and designed for non-traditional students.

    An example from my city: There is a quite old, respectable, highly ranked private women’s college in the Twin Cities with an Evening/Weekend/Online program. They were apparently the first college in the Midwest to start a weekend college for non-traditional students. They charge less than University of Phoenix, have more institutional scholarships available, and don’t hide their per-credit cost. They have tons of support programs and you can still do some typical college stuff like a J term abroad if you want.

    The land grant university in my state also offers many online programs. Your degree just says “University of Minnesota” like everyone else’s – there’s no asterisk or “(online only) on it anywhere. :)

    1. EnnVeeEl*

      This. All I want is for people to explore their options – it’s a lot of time and money. The bad press on for-profit universities isn’t unfounded.

      1. Natalie*

        I’m not sure we agree, actually. I think the bad press on most for-profit colleges is deserved. I’m drawing a distinction between “for-profit” and “online”. The evening/weekend and online options I mentioned are both from not-for-profit colleges, one private and one public.

        1. EnnVeeEl*

          I meant that there is reason for it. We do agree – wholeheartedly. Maybe I used the wrong word. LOL!

      2. Nikki T*

        Yes, yes! I just want people to look around and see what is available. Those schools have LARGE advertising dollars, so that’s who the student’s see and that is where they end up.

        So many students really cannot afford those schools, but they don’t know any better. Once you put your information in on their website (because it is very difficult to find a catalog, so you have to ask), they will hound you into submission (so I have been told)…

        Many people turn their noses up at community colleges and that’s how they end up in a fix at these schools (they seem ‘better’). Spread the word! Go to the community college! It is a resource, it is there to serve and educate! Many have partnerships with local state colleges. Some might be subpar or whatever, but perhaps the one in the next county over might suit you…

        1. EnnVeeEl*

          Community college can be a great first step and some of those credit can be transferred! When you are taking classes that won’t be transferred elsewhere, it’s a problem!

          1. Nikki T*

            That’s true, but if you’re doing auto mechanics, cosmetology, medical office admin, the credits probably won’t transfer anyway. But, you’ll have a career and very little debt.

            Most CC’s have a university transfer option though. But even if they took a technical/trade program, they will at least have some transferable English and humanities courses.

            There’s just not much reason to go to “for-profit tech” if the local CC has the same program and plenty of open slots (some programs have waitlists). The students just don’t know that, so always do your best to encourage AND explain why their credits may not transfer, but it is still better. I have found myself doing this recently, a few callers have said..their friend said they went to the CC and nothing transferred. We discuss their friend’s program and how the track I am recommending is different.

  29. Annamaison*

    For some unknown reason I have never been able to hire anyone without them being a) experiencing a death in the family, b) being in a serious car crash, c) having a health crisis or d) them having to be evacuated from their home due to fire and/or flood during their first few days on the job.

    On the one hand – I’m thinking I should just stop hiring folks. Clearly I’m bad luck for new hires.

    On the other, sometimes bad stuff cand and does happen to dilligent, hard-working folks who really care about their jobs and give it their best. Its something to keep an eye on – but I try not to hold it against people for having a slip or an emergency during their probation period.

    1. Yup*

      I doubt it’s you. :) In my second week at my current job, a hurricane blew through town and knocked out the power for 8 days. At the job before that, I had a medication interaction that caused uncontrollable vomiting for 2 months. (That was super fun to explain to my new boss.)

      FWIW, my theory is that changing jobs kinda disrupts The Force for a while. Even with an awesome new job that’s uber promising, there’s still all the uncertainty of a new environment, the administrative stuff (changing direct deposit, figuring out new insurance), and all the little mental changes like taking a different transport route in the morning or remembering the code for the copier. Which creates stress that leads to sleep/concentration/attention disruption, hence lost wallets and keys locked inside and auto skirmishes and other assorted unfortunate events that add up to life chaos.

    2. Chinook*

      Annamaison it might be you. I am sort a calamaity jane when it comes to jobs. The places of employment I have worked at get along fine when I am there but within a year of me leaving, somethign usually goes wrong whether it being part of an investigation on price fixing, closing down or downsizing my department, or having half the partners quit. I have had nothing to do with any of these things (I swear) but I do joke with friends that it is in a company’s best interest to keep me for as long as possible!

    3. AgilePhalanges*

      That’s definitely more drama than we’ve experienced, but we’ve noticed a definite pattern in new hires at my company being sick within the first week or two of hire. We figure it’s stress from all the changes, and don’t “ding” them for it. Everyone gets sick every so often, and it’s not surprising that one of the times would be when everything is in upheaval like that.

      1. Jamie*

        I am not usually one to assume something environmental, but could there be a ventilation issue in your building? My kids’ school had mold in the ventilation system once and almost everyone ended up getting sick.

        If they all come down with the same thing, like respiratory or whatever I’d wonder if it’s the building.

        1. A Bug!*

          It’s also worth noting that some systems facilitate the growth of pathogens more readily than others; it’s absolutely worth looking into when the last time the system was given a checkup by someone who knows what to look for.

          There was a serious outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease in Quebec City recently, and the culprit was determined to be cooling towers used in some buildings’ ventilation systems. Several people died.

        2. Agile Phalanges*

          Nah, this has been a pattern in two different buildings, both of which were fairly new (and our current one was decorated with low VOC materials, green building, blah blah blah). And different types of illnesses. Just common to come down with something in the first few weeks of a new job, it seems.

          1. Calibrachoa*

            We get that a lot here because we have an international call centre and a lot of folks move here from a completely different climate. it took me more than a year to stop getting sick every few weeks’ time. I bet it’s the same when someone moves from the Midwest to California or from Florida to New England…

          2. Editor*

            This happens a lot where people come into a new, mixed group with pathogens their bodies aren’t used to. Kindergartners and college freshmen all are more likely to get sick because they’re exposed to new strains of cold viruses and so on.

            Working in a new, large workplace is probably similar. People get sick, develop some tolerance and immunity, things settle down; then some new virus or whatever appears.

  30. Pam*

    #7 – As a public library employee, I have seen a huge increase of patrons who need computer help- very basic computer help such as how to create a file in Word, how to attach a file to an email, how to get to the internet- and so many of these people are for-profit online college students. There are no standards to get in. The school administration does not care if a person is woefully unprepared to take an online class. They want that money. And the students have no idea. They are working so hard, and they have no idea that the degree is worthless. I feel awful for them. I have seen some really atrocious work submitted, and these students are getting A’s and B’s. Anytime someone asks me for my opinion on what school to go to, if they’re leaning toward University of Phoenix, Ashford, Everest- anything like that- I practically beg them to go to our local tech school to get a degree that will actually mean something.

    1. Nikki T*

      Community college for the win! Plus, they offer (academic) computer courses and low cost non-credit computer training courses.

      I live in an area like this, hurts to see this.

  31. perrik*

    #1: I’d be very concerned if the new employee had not called to let you know what had happened, or had called but sounded unconcerned or flippant about being late. He called and was mortified. If you’re cold and annoyed with him when he arrives, he’s going to be even more mortified – he’s already having a crappy first day at the new job, please cut him a tiny bit of slack and don’t make it worse! I spent my first day on a new job frantically returning phone calls to the emergency vet whenever I could slip away for a few minutes, and then had to deal with working the last couple hours of day while pushing aside my grief at the loss of my cat. I was not at my best. My boss’s response to my awful first day cemented my loyalty to her and commitment to the work.

    #2: Just in case, set aside some money in a savings account. You might find yourself owing additional taxes that weren’t calculated correctly. Keep meticulous records of your pay, including the deductions. You may need to CYA with the IRS! I wonder what this owner is actually reporting to the IRS, anyway…

    #5: Oh dear, let me guess. The organization decided to implement org-wide technology changes that will impact just about everyone. And there is no change management process in place. Fun times ahead! Okay, measuring “happiness” is pointless because it’s such a broad, subjective concept and isn’t entirely relevant to the situation.

    What you can measure that would be relevant:
    1. Satisfaction with the upgrade process – were they notified before changes affecting their work were implemented, did the upgrade process impact their immediate productivity, did they receive acceptable training on the new software, was the training conducted in time for them to be ready to work with the new software, etc.

    2. Self-efficacy and relevance – do they feel confident that they understand how to use the software, do they think the software will help them do their jobs better, do they think it has all the features they need, do they think the software will continue to be relevant, etc.

    #7: It depends on the degree, the institution, the field, and the hiring manager! In my field, one for-profit university (with regional accreditation) has established itself as a credible university. They’ve brought in top names, aligned themselves with the goals and principles of the field’s dominant professional association, and published solid research. A graduate degree from *this* university in *this* field would be seen positively by hiring managers active in this field. On the other hand, I had looked into this institution for my master’s program and didn’t like the pushy sales pitch (although when I told them to go away, they did). I earned my MS online, but through a state university.

  32. Riki*

    #2 – This sounds sketchy on so many levels. Did you fill out a w4 for when you started? Do you receive any kind of official record from your employer showing the break down of taxes for each pay period? Do you know if other employees have received accurate W2s in the past?

    If he really is paying ALL payroll taxes quarterly, then he’s paying a big, fat fine on top of that amount. This is something any employer will go out of their way to avoid as the fines can rack up very quickly. My gut feeling is that he is not paying at all. If that is the case, you will be be on the hook for any income taxes you owe–you know, the taxes you were told to withhold from your paycheck. :/

    Call the IRS and get out of there quick!

    1. #2 OP here*

      I already quit–it was that bad. No w4, no record of any sort, and I know one of the employees had to pay $600 because her taxes hadn’t been figured correctly last year.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Call the IRS or a reputable CPA and ask what to do here. You don’t want to get caught up in troublesome financial issues come tax time. Figure out NOW what you need to do so you can handle it financially.

        Also, +1 million for leaving the job!! That was going to be my suggestion if you hadn’t already done so because shady doesn’t even begin to describe what was going on there from your description.

  33. Runon*

    #5 Scary scary software.

    I had a rollout of not a new software but a new process involving software they’d never used, a very scary new way to do something that had been working “just fine” (aka failing horribly) for years. It meant learning a new software and much much more.

    We had pretty good user acceptance overall but even though we did management though we didn’t because we had 2 complainers who would go into management offices daily and talk about how stressed they were by the work. We actually did a survey to show that the problem wasn’t an overall problem but was really with these 2 individuals. (who were moved onto new project they constantly complain about) In this case the survey really helped to show not happiness, but that people felt involved in the rollout process, understood how it was relevant to their job, understood how it created a better end result for the customer, understood when to use (and not use) the tool, and spent less time completing the process.

    But to get to that point (and I figure 2 out of nearly 500 is a good marker for a significant tech change) we met with everyone, individually, or in very small groups, multiple times to get input, make sure they understood and felt heard, we made the tool as user friendly as possible (and horrible on the admin side), and we spent a huge amount of time talking to people just walking them thru the process over and over and over. If “happiness” is really a goal then make sure you put into your project plan the steps you need to take to get everyone on board. If people feel invested in making it happen that makes them much more likely to give you good marks on your survey.

    1. Jamie*

      I think what’s bothering me is the word happiness – although I’m sure the boss meant user satisfaction I really find the choice of wording off putting.

      When I start my car and it works properly and is a reliable form of transport I am satisfied and getting my needs met – I’m not sure I’d ever check the “elicits happiness” box on a survey for that. It’s the same with software – it’s a tool that can either increase or decrease productivity depending on a lot of factors. The functionality of the product itself, adequacy of training, etc…but to expect either my application or my training to make anyone happy is a pretty unreasonable request.

      I know I’m being pedantic, I just love real and legitimate metrics and measurables so much it bothers me when people want to bastardize them by measuring things that can’t or shouldn’t be measured.

      1. Chinook*

        Jamie, if you are happy that your car works when you turn the key, then I think that is a sign that you don’t expect it to work. I think satisfaction is a much better word because it implies that you are expecting everything to go fine.

      2. Runon*

        I don’t think this is pedantic, I think it is very relevant. Happiness is a really bad measure. What I listed were the measured we used when management asked for “Happiness” but others might actually want someone to check a box saying “I am happy with this product.” That would not lead to any useful information. If you create a plan that says we will work to do these 5 things: abcde. You may be able to avoid that really useless word.

        1. Rob Aught*

          I’m in agreement. Happiness is a bad measurement of success.

          It’s like the requirement “The system shall be fast”

          That sounds great, but what does it mean?

          1. Jamie*

            This. It’s like someone stopping IT on the way to the ladies room to complain that “my computer is slower than it used to be.”

            Which often means it’s exactly the same as it used to be, but someone else in my office has a faster one so now mine is total unusable crap.

            Although sometimes it does mean there is a problem people cannot clearly articulate – so you give the benefit of the doubt. Initially.

    2. Jessa*

      You are so lucky you only had 2 complainers AND management understood that they’re just whingers. Because a lot of times those 2 people would have been enough to tank a project.

  34. Anonymous*

    Re: #1

    I say give him a break for day one, IF he was sufficiently mortified and apologetic. If it happens again within the next few weeks, he’s likely going to be a problem. I speak from experience. I once had an employee who showed up late a couple times in the first two weeks and it was a precursor of what was to come. He went from being late once a week to just about everyday. We finally fired him. He seemed to be someone who just had no concept of time and WAY underestimated how long it would take to do things in the morning before work.

  35. AnonAgain*

    #3 Yes, please – say a “Thank you.” It will go a long way. My SO fought for more than a year to get two of his staff members raises and more elevated titles, which they had been requesting for a few years from their previous boss.
    Neither of them said “thank you” to him and it really annoys him and I feel, taints his overall impression of the two of them.

  36. J.R.*

    re: 7
    I just wanted to add that there are really good reasons why many managers look down on degrees that were earned online. The primary reason is because there is little to no structure that keeps people from cheating. I remember in college I had friends who would sign up for online courses because they could easily use their book or Google the answers to tests. Occasionally there are courses that make you come to a classroom to take the final exam but still the majority of your grade can be cheated on.
    There is also a mentality of rewarding sacrifice. A student who sacrificed 4 years of taking 15 hours a semester put in a very serious commitment of money, time, and energy. They gave presentations, learned to work in peer groups, sat through lectures, and took tests in monitored classrooms. It is understandable that there are reasons that make online courses far more convenient, but many students with families, jobs, and financial hardships still make it to the brick and mortar colleges…. so, online just simply doesn’t impress. Still better than no degree.

    1. Yup*

      I did a masters program from an accredited nonprofit university that was a blended in-class/online format. There were plenty of cheating safeguards in place for the online portion. The university took it very seriously. Most of our online assignments were timed original essays via authenticated login, and high volumes of research and theory papers (which replaced tests as the bulk of our course grade). We also worked remotely in peer groups (recorded Skype calls, internal wiki pages, google docs) to complete team projects, did virtual presentations (via slideshares with live audio to the entire logged in class), and sat through recorded and live online lectures (in video chat forums with periodic popup questions and mandatory interactive elements). I agree that online can’t fully replace some of the interpersonal aspects of classroom learning, but it’s incorrect to categorize online programs as not requiring serious commitments of money, time, and energy. 40% of my cohort dropped out or took time off from the program within the first year because they couldn’t keep up with the pace and volume of work.

      1. Chinook*

        DH did part of his military intelligence training online and they took cheating very seriously (for many obvious reasons). Iw as impressed at how they ensured everyone did their mandatory coursework before attending the inperson training and it involved all of what Yup referred to. The only advantage time wise for DH to do this online was that a)he didn’t have top ut on his uniform and b)he didn’t have to go away for an extra 6 months to do that part of the course. Other than that, it was just as time consuming and interactive.

    2. anonalupagus*

      I respectfully request that you distinguish between “online” programs at for-profit businesses and “non-traditional” programs at not-for-profit universities, which may include a significant “online” portion. Please be careful with your generalizations.

      I’m 9 credits from finishing my MBA at a highly respected university in a blended program that requires in-class, in-person residency three times a year for a week, with the rest of each semester online and finals in person at the next residency. The commitment required for a 54-credit, three-year program is enormous, especially for a working professional. We do the same group work, do the same presentations, sit through lectures, and take the same monitored tests that in-class students do, and in the end, our diplomas show that we earned the same degree from the same highly respected university. The technology is different, but the work is the same. We don’t brook lousy work or lazy students–the program is specifically designed to select out those who think they can coast. The professors, who are regular faculty at the brick-and-mortar university, are even more diligent about cheating than they are in their classroom settings.

      I completely agree about the quality of degrees conferred by *most* for-profit “universities,” and that in most cases, their reputation is deserved. My graduate school experience, in comparison with the experience of others who have gone the for-profit route, is that the for-profits are generally “pay for your grade” diploma mills. My experience as a hiring manager indicates that the work ethic of people with diplomas from those companies varies, just as much as it varies among people with diplomas from true not-for-profit institutions of higher learning. That said, I know how hard I have worked for my (upcoming) degree, and that that commitment has paid off in my work life.

      There are situations in which a purely online program is really the only one that will work for a diligent person who’s trying to improve. Reputable institutions are recognizing this and designing nontraditional programs, like mine, that apply the same rigor and require the same commitment–and result in the same quality of education. The trick, as a student, is to do extensive homework to identify those institutions, and patronize only them.

      As a hiring manager, which I rather hope you’re not, the trick is to be careful with your generalizations. Please don’t lump together online students with thieves, cheaters, and skaters–the difference is extremely significant, and by automatically dismissing those degrees, you may be overlooking your best candidates.

      1. Nikki T*

        This is well said. Let’s not throw online degrees under the bus as a whole.

        What’s at hand is the reputability, quality and high cost of these certain types of institutions…

    3. Anon*

      While it is true that students can cheat, I venture to say that many non-traditional students *want* to learn and have no intention of cheating.

      As a product of my institution’s online program (we are a public institution), I did have exams but I also had projects, papers, team efforts. Full disclosure, it was a graduate program but the students in our undergrad programs are older students like we are. And my classmates *were* serious, they had ailing parents and spouses an upheavals and they did their work, live on Skype and Google Docs, we banged out projects.

      I’m not sure the method of instruction is what is looked down upon as is the poor reputation and experiences of particular institutions. There are ‘brick and mortar/traditional’ schools with great online options.

      It really wouldn’t be fair to penalize someone who couldn’t/didn’t ‘sacrifice’ when they were 18 and are now 40 with bills to pay and would have to sacrifice food and shelter for themselves and their children if they had to sit in the classroom during the day. Evening and weekend programs just aren’t available everywhere.

    4. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      When I did grading for WGU, every single written assignment was run through Turnitin.com, and we were trained to keep on the lookout for plagiarism. Multiple-choice tests had to be taken at approved proctored locations. Are all online schools like that? No. But then again, not all brick-and-mortar colleges are super vigilant either.

    5. AgilePhalanges*

      I got my BS online through a brick-and-mortar private college in my state (still cheaper than UOP, and the diploma is worth more). I live in an area far away from any four-year colleges, and at the time I started had a young son I couldn’t leave to attend in-person classes multiple days per week even if they were offered locally, or to attend classes or seminars at the campuses of the state schools hours away, and unfortunately those state schools’ online programs required in-person attendance a time or three per term.

      I do have to take exception to your comments about both cheating and commitment with regards to online education, though.

      Instructors in an online environment are aware of the limitations, and in my experience, still prevent and/or watch for signs of cheating with methods that take those limitations into consideration. Some classes purposefully allowed open-book tests, which test your resourcefulness rather than rote memory. Others required writing papers rather than taking a test at the end of the term. All required participation in “class” either via non-real-time bulletin board discussions, or real-time discussions in a chat room environment. While there IS much more opportunity to either refer to the textbook or Google or whatever, I agree, that’s also the reality in real-life, so simulating otherwise in the educational environment isn’t realistic, as long as there ARE ways to ensure the students are learning and retaining the relevant material.

      As for sacrifice and committment, I take umbrage at the implication that taking a degree online in smaller “bites” (rather than a full credit course load) while also working full time, caring for a child, and being a full-grown adult with all associated responsibilities shows more committment to learning than a traditional student who only has to worry about studies, but not a job, rent, or children. Not saying the latter is less worthy than the former, just don’t imply that the former is less worthy than the latter, either, please.

      As long as the coursework is legitimate, HOW you learn should be more about learning style (some people are not cut out for online learning, some thrive on it) and how it fits in with the rest of their lives (see my above reasons for seeking out an online-only program with no in-person components). Those who need to discern between applicants can and should consider the institution itself and its reptation, and the student’s GPA, but the method of instruction shouldn’t play into it at all.

  37. TRB*

    #7 Not sure if this was discussed, but what about going to a school like UoP for something like IT? Are there certain degrees where this type of schooling could be ok?

    1. Jamie*

      IME when it comes to IT it’s all about what you can do and experience trumps everything. I don’t care if you graduated top in your class with a CS degree from MIT – however you got your fundamentals (school, on the job, self taught) it’s less about where you got them but how well you can apply them.

      Obviously there will be some places where degrees and certs matter – but in many sectors they are a lot less relevant. They won’t hurt you, but if I have someone sitting across the table from me I’m asking about practical experience and if you try to route the question back to training or school it’s a huge red flag.

      One of the nice things about IT is it’s easier to prove and a lot harder to fake. If I can’t do what I said I could, and what you hired me to do…that’s going to be apparent really quickly.

    2. The IT Manager*

      IT is very, very broad, and some companies/positions may have degree requirements. But in general is success in IT is about how well you can perform the job. I’m not sure what they classes are need for a UoP degree, but if I were hiring for a help desk or admin, I sure wouldn’t value a degree by itself. I’d actually be more likely to value a technical certification. And of course value experience most of all.

      * And I would still value UoP a lot less than most colleges because it has a bad reputation.

      1. TRB*

        Thanks! Well all of you that responded. This is good to know. I was trying to discourage a friend from taking UoP classes because of the same reason Alison and everyone said but it doesn’t seem to be HORRIBLE for IT. Just not ideal.

        1. Natalie*

          IMO the problems with these for-profits are twofold – they give a substandard education, and they often do so at an inflated price. So even though UofP might not be terrible for a particular field, chances are you will be paying way more for that not-terrible education than you would for similar education from a CC or small state school.

    3. Nikki T*

      There are better options and as Jamie said, it’s more about what you can *do*. If are looking to learn how to do something in IT, you want to make for darn sure the school you choose is going to teach you…you’re much better off going to your local community college if they a have a program accessible to your schedule.

      A friend got an sys admin job for a particular operating system because he ran it on a machine at home and could answer their questions about it.

  38. mel*

    I understand that #1 turned out to be sketchy in different ways, but you’d have to be awfully cynical to believe it was a flat out lie right off the bat and thus expect this to be a daily occurrance from then on!

    I mean… I sort of understand because I have a really low-level job that seems to hire complete flakes who have terrible work ethic, but that’s a hiring issue. I wouldn’t want to be the manager admitting that all of his/her hires were constantly late.

  39. HarryV*

    1) I remember my very first day at the job out of college I had a bad case of diarrhea. I was wearing a suit and had to get off the freeway to jump into a McDonald’s! So yes, things can happen!

    4) File a small claims. Should be easy to serve them :)

    7) If the online program is from a non for profit college and is indistinguishable from the fact it was all online, I would say it is ok. I would have to agree that for profit college degrees are generally not favored upon. As an IT hiring manager, I am very skeptical of those degrees. If you have no working experience and only have a for profit degree, you are significantly at a disadvantage.

  40. Brton3*

    I have a concern similar to #6. I also work in the nonprofit world, but I have moved gradually from working for large nonprofits (including a university) to, today, a much smaller will-we-make-budget-or-won’t-we nonprofit where I have a very senior position. It’s been great to go from entry-level at a huge famous organization to senior position at a small org where I feel very valued.

    But I don’t make a lot of money now in this small but well-respected org. If I move back to a larger organization I worry that my salary history will set me up to be underpaid.

    If I had stayed at the place where I did my entry level job, I would probably be making more than I make now but in a much less senior role. People with my title at orgs like that make 6 figures! I hope I haven’t messed up my potential salary trajectory.

    (I should add that I love my job and my organization and didn’t especially enjoy the big places I worked previously, so quality of life is a factor, but who knows what might change in the future.)

    1. Runon*

      Your position would likely be a lower one at a larger org. If right now you manage a 5 mil budget and 10 staff and you are a director and at a large nonprofit the directors manage 50 mil budgets and 200 staff it wouldn’t be the same. The person managing 5 mil and 10 staff might only be a manager. So it is more about the work and the scale when you look at things like that, not so much about the title. (That doesn’t mean you aren’t doing great work and couldn’t do the higher level/larger scale work, just that you aren’t doing it right now.)

      1. Brton3*

        Well, I recognize that I wouldn’t be the senior director of XYZ in a bigger org, but I know quite well the types of jobs I would be qualified for and likely to be considered for, and they would pay far, far more than I make now. And I am doing that type of work now, just on a smaller scale.

  41. HR TomatoPaste*

    I posted a job for a Senior Accountant, one of the candidates was a Phoenix U grad. It was a very short interview, he couldn’t navigate a simple Excel spreadsheet.

    1. NBB*

      Curious what their accounting experience history was like – how were they able to do their current/previous jobs?

  42. The IT Manager*

    #7 … Simple fact: online programs and/or for-profit programs have a worse reputation than traditional brick and mortar universities.

    Unfortunately I think UoP has the worst reputation of all, but I recommend you avoid all schools that heavily advertise on TV, are very franchised, or are simply well known as online programs.

    1. The IT Manager*

      In the late 90s, I attended night-school, professional program for a Masters that was associated with a traditional, religious/private brick and mortar school. Still my program was in a different city than the main campus and it definitely has aspects of a diploma mill. The “campus” was in an office park and the instructors only needed a masters degree. Although I did learn some things, it was not a rigorous program.

      I recently completed a Masters degree, online program associated with an existing brick and mortar professional college. (In addition to their main campus, they are well known for offering classes at military bases especially overseas.) The instructor selection seemed a bit better than my previous experience (advantage of online), but again it was also not as rigorous as I would have liked. In my opinion, they did not have a good online teaching model.

      So unfortunately my two experiences gives me a negative opinion of pretty much all schools that focus on “professionals” or allow you to complete them while working unless it is actually taken on “real” college campus. But in both of these cases (if I had completed the first), the two schools I attended were not obviously online or night school programs.

      Not that there aren’t better programs or better instructors even in mediocre programs. And not that students don’t learn things, but I think it wrong to expect that one of these program’s degrees be treated the same as that from a traditional school. Most of these Masters programs don’t require GRE and will take just about anyone with the money to pay for the classes.

      So my recommendation is you think about your options with your eyes open. Think about what you really want out of the program. If you really care about reputation, you may have to sacrifice for it.

  43. Anonymous*

    I’m the OP for #1. Please note the follow-up note that I sent to AAM in the previous comments. His requests for an advance and personal loan from me, albeit presented very respectfully, were politely declined. I’d be hesitant to loan money to a co-worker I knew very well, let alone a brand-new employee that may or may not work out (hence impacting his ability to pay me back!). If nothing else, it’d create a conflict of interest for me as a manager to loan him money, even if only $20.00, as that could be seen as impacting my judgment in letting him go if things didn’t work out.

    What made this particularly tough for us as an employer is that this employee was going to be working on a contract for a brand-new client of ours and this was our firm’s first day working for this new client. The work is time-sensitive. If we get our job done late, our client (and, by extension, us) get penalized. Because our employee showed up 1 hour and 42 minutes late, we were then late in providing our services to our client on the first day of this very important contract. We nearly lost it, but I was able to smooth things over. In our business, and in this employee’s role in particular, timeliness is critical.

    Some folks remarked about my comment that some folks wait at least 1-2 weeks before showing up late. My experience in management has been that (until yesterday) everyone shows up on-time for their first week or two. For those that I’ve had to fail on probation for attendance issues, those usually started showing up after their first few weeks. That’s just been my experience in the workplaces where I’ve managed others. Those workplaces were also unionized, so I had very little flexibility when it came to probationary periods.

    That said, I did give this guy a second chance yesterday after very clearly spelling out our attendance and performance expectations going forward and the consequences for failing to meet those expectations. After getting that out of the way, I relaxed the mood and changed the subject to put him more at ease in getting through the rest of his first day.

    I’ll let you know if things change.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        It does sound a bit off. I would certainly like to know what happened next.

  44. Uh Oh!*


    Long story short is the internal contact advised me to lie about my past salary history. I listened. Lied. Got offer and accepted pending outcome of background check.

    1) I know for a fact they don’t require W2 during the first week of work paperwork
    2) background check is occurring as we speak. If those come out clean (I know its a big IF)…am I home free? Where else do I need to worry? If there are tons of other ways I can get found out down the road, I rather know now, so I can decide not to quit my current job.

    Look, I am a relatively new grad. I screwed up. I wouldn’t have lied if my new boss didn’t tell me to. She only told me to because she knew I wouldn’t accept without a great offer. I learned my lesson. Now what?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Since this is off-topic (and I try to keep comments related to the post), feel free to email it to me to get it in my question queue.

      1. Uh Oh!*

        I am sorry, AAM! I thought it was the outcome of #6- if she lies… but you are right. Ill send you an email!

    2. Ruffingit*

      First things first – your new boss told you to lie doesn’t matter. What matters is that YOU chose to lie. You did not have to do that regardless of who told you to do it. You have to take full and complete personal responsibility here for the choice you made to take your new boss up on her suggestion that you lie.

      Now then, you’ve only really got three options:

      1. Stay silent and hope for the best.
      2. Come clean.
      3. Withdraw your name for consideration and tell them you’ve decided to stay with your current job.

      What can you live with? You can always try to get around this in a variety of ways. You can either come right out and say you lied. Don’t blame the new boss if you do this because that makes you look like you have even less integrity than the lying itself already implies because you’re trying to blame someone else.

      You could also say “Oh, you know, I realized that I gave you incorrect figures for my salary history. I’m so sorry about that mistake. Here are the correct numbers. I don’t know where my mind was…” That only works if the numbers are not hugely disparate and it is itself another lie so you have to take that into consideration as well.

      So from my perspective, those are your options. Would love to hear what others have to say. But again, I will repeat this because it needs to be stressed…DO NOT blame anyone else for your choice to lie about this. If someone tells you to kill someone else and you do so, you’re still a murderer. Doesn’t matter that someone told you to do it. Responsibility is key here in dealing with the present situation and in going forward in your career.

      1. Uh Oh!*

        Thanks! Your options are spot on and I definitely new that those are my choices. My SPECIFIC question is, when/where do employers verify this.
        1) I know some do it as part of new hire paperwork. I know that is NOT something done here.
        2) They can do it as part of background check.
        3) ???? ??? <–where I am asking for your help.

        When/why else would a company check, after a new hire has started. If I get past the background check, what is in store for me next? If I have to worry now for the rest of my career, I rather come clean now. If my only chance of getting caught is background check, I can just await those results before resigning. As I said, I KNOW it is not verified during HR initial paperwork.


        1. Melissa*

          I’m currently undergoing a background check for a security clearance, and the investigator asked my current employer to verify my starting and current salaries, so this could definitely come out, depending on how in depth the investigation is.

        2. Ruffingit*

          I don’t think anyone here can answer your specific question because there’s no way for us to know. When/where employers verify information like salary history is very employer specific. It could be they do it as part of their reference checking. It could be they do it as part of a background check. It could be they do it as a separate thing entirely where they call the previous employer(s). Could be they ask you to provide proof of it through pay stubs. And it could be they don’t do it at all.

          So really, it’s an unknown and I think that’s your major issue here. You have no way of knowing if/when this is going to come back and bite you. Wish I could be of more help, but that’s the truth of it. No one, even you, can know if this is going to be a problem.

          People who lie about things on their resumes and/or during the hiring process sometimes never get caught. And sometimes they do. And sometimes they even get caught years down the road when it would seem they no longer need to worry about it. That’s one of the consequences of lying. You end up looking over your shoulder a lot.

          You won’t find judgment from me, we’ve all done stupid things we wish we hadn’t. The point now is whether or not you can live with it/that nagging “might get caught” feeling or whether you want to rectify it in some way. That’s where you are now. I wish you luck. Not an easy situation.

    3. Joey*

      Nice. You either have a really good contact or a really bad one. You’re banking that your contact knows the internal HR processes well enough you won’t be caught. You’re banking that when checking references your salary won’t be discussed. You’re banking that if your company ever does find out they won’t fire you for lying. That’s a lot of faith to put in a contact. I hope it works out well for you. That’s all you can really do- hope your contact is so good that she knows your secret will never be found out.

      1. Uh Oh!*

        Joey- perfect summary. those are all my hopes right now.

        My specific question is, after I am hired and fill my new hire paperwork, is there anything else I need to worry about after? If I get through new hire paperwork and background check scotch free, and I clear to move forward and learn from my mistake in peace?

        1. The IT Manager*

          Unfortunately not. You’re probably in the clear after you’ve been on the job a month or so in, but I’ve heard tales here about people who are fired much later after it is found out they lied on their application or something. Usually the story involves someone having it out for them, but you can always be fired if this is found out if your company takes a hard line on lies. Recommend you make yourself a valuable assett to the company if you don;t decided to come clean now.

  45. Nick*

    Ahh for profit schools.

    I went to DeVry in the early 2000ies to get my BS in Computer information systems. I’ll confess the 90% of teachers I had were awesome, and I did learn alot. There was about 10% who were paycheck teachers and really didn’t give a hoot.

    However the big problem was the job/career benefits at the end of school. That was a joke. I’ll confess to be a bit snookered in with “oh yeah, all these tech companies come to our campus and just pluck students up”. Well in 2003 the dot com bubble had burst, tech companies were not so out going, and the school didn’t want to help at all, and instead focus on current students.

    That was low. Very low.

    However I did land my first job because of my degree a year and some change later. So my degree had carried some weight in that regard.

    Irony is, I was BACK to school in 2006 for purely individual reasons, but I went to UW to get a liberal arts MA degree with focus on film studies. I know this wasn’t going to get me a better job or what-not, this was a complately personal thing to do. Surprisingly, accepted right into the Masters program without having to retake any classes or anything. I’d assume, just like for profit college, they just wanted to gobble up my monies. Regardless, my for profit degree got me into that program too.

    So, BS in IT, and MA in film studies, but my job is managing a team in accounting. How did that happen?

  46. Angie*

    7) If it is a reputable school, I don’t ask candidates whether they attended classes physically or online. Most colleges have online programs or hybrid programs where you can take some of your classes online. If you do some searching online you can find out pretty quickly whether or not a school has a good reputation.

    1. Cassie*

      We have an online masters program at our brick-and-mortar public university. My guess is that the diploma doesn’t mention “online” so potential employers wouldn’t be able to distinguish whether the candidate was a “traditional” student or attended online.

      I was talking to a campus recruiter from one of our industry partners and she was surprised (floored actually) that our university would actually have an online degree. She thought it was kind of hokey. Most of the online students are either a) employed full-time or b) international students. And the general perception within the school is that those students probably wouldn’t have been admitted as “traditional” students…

      1. jesicka309*

        I agree that the online degrees are less stringent on who attends, however:
        -A person who does not have, or does not develop, the skills to pass the degree will fail
        -A person studying an online degree demonstrates a high level of autonomy and self-motivation (there’s no weekly tutorials where the teacher busts your ass! No way for the lecturer to check you did your reading!)
        -An online degree is often more intense – I study four semesters a year, with no holidays. Week 1 of one semester is also exam week for the previous semester. Try doing that for three years or more, and you’ll know what stress is. If you choose to underload like most and do 1 subject per semester, a three year degree becomes a six year degree. Six years of constant stress.

        I’ve completed a face to face degree, and I’m halfway through an online degree. Face to face to was EASY in comparison. Running a household, working full time, studying…I have no free time, at least, not to do ‘silly’ things like cross-stitch or play computer games! And the last two holidays I’ve had, I’ve spent time doing assignments. Imagine doing an essay on a cruise ship in Italy? Or in a hotel room in Bali? The other alternative is no holidays. And of course, there’s less pressure when you’re face-to-face, as there’s that built in sympathy that students get. Two weeks to study for exmas? HA.
        I guess I get a bit hot under the collar when people tell me that an online degree is less work.

        1. Nikki T*

          At my institution the requirements are the same for online and face-to-face. I sometimes forget that’s not the case everywhere and wonder about strange questions from prospects. Though it has been a while since I have had to say,” the admissions requirements are *exactly the same*, no you cannot apply without that course, or that GPA….”

  47. Ruffingit*

    I have an ex-friend who attended University of Phoenix for a master’s degree. I can’t believe what she paid to attend that school in comparison to my M.A., which came from a brick and mortar state school with a good reputation.

    Several people I knew that were already in her field said to me “Doesn’t she realize how much she’s going to handicap herself with a degree from there?”

    I have no idea what ended up happening with her since I severed our friendship a year ago, but I do know she got the degree. Don’t know if it’s done her any good or not. But either way, just from cost alone, it would have made more sense to attend one of the many state schools here than to go with UofP.

  48. Cassie*

    #1: one of our new hires was late on her first day by about an hour. Traffic is pretty bad over here during rush hour and she hadn’t built in enough of a cushion. (Her interview had been late morning so it probably didn’t give a good representation of what traffic would be like).

    I would want people to plan ahead (knowing that rush hour traffic is nothing like non-rush hour traffic), but stuff happens. Especially when you want everything to go well!

  49. Vicki*

    My thought for #4:
    “Also she told me that she will take me to Human Resources.”

    That sounds good. Let’s both go together,. Is 1pm good for you?

    1. badger_doc*

      Haha I really like that response! It reminds me of when I was a teenager and I threatened to run away when my mom made me mad. She would always say, “ok, honey, I’ll help you pack your bags”. Really good response!!

  50. Beth*

    #1 – Things do happen and if the person is appropriately apologetic, I would let it slide (but pay attention to future behavior, of course.) I am not someone who usually ever suffers from serious insomnia, and not someone who ever makes excuses if I’m not prepared, but I remember once in grad school I had a 45-minute presentation to give, and for some reason, I simply could NOT fall asleep the night before. I was beside myself, freaking out over the fact that the hours kept ticking by. I finally had to contact the prof. to explain that I had literally not slept for a minute that night. My presentation was all ready but there was no way I could give a presentation when I was deliriously tired. This is a totally different situation and in my case, I just never got to sleep, but it illustrates that weird, suspect things can actually happen. It was totally out of my control but I am aware that it made me look really flaky or worse, like a liar. I am glad that the prof. gave me the benefit of the doubt.

    #7 – I will withhold my general judgment about online programs. I once took one online continuing education course through a very reputable program (open enrollment offered through an Ivy League school) and it was very well done, and I was surprised at how rich the education experience could be. Nevertheless, it did not compare to an in-person class at a top institution and I can’t imagine getting an entire degree that way. I work in a field in which online programs are increasingly common for the required advanced degree. The vast majority of people who get these degrees are never able to get professional jobs in the field (the whole purpose of getting the advanced degree, which is the entry point to the profession.) There are some who have luck, but in talking to people I realize that even when the program is, on the whole, pretty good, there are some deficiencies. I mentioned a presentation I had to give in my (on-campus) program. It was just one of many because much of the work of the field is training and presenting. When a former coworker got a professional job after completing her online degree program (attached to a bricks and mortar school which is ranked highly in the field) she made a big deal out of the fact that she had to give a work presentation, and she’d never presented before! That’s when it dawned on me that some of the most basic exercises can’t be done in these online programs. I mean, sure, you can record yourself, or perhaps even present virtually in real time (which is a real task in some jobs), but when it comes to learning and real-time reaction and getting nerves under control, nothing compares to presenting to a live audience. That’s just one very minor example of a deficiency. There is, of course, also the networking, the access to resources, using classmates as sounding boards – all important aspects of bricks and mortar programs.

    The other BIG thing I find is that even when the bricks and mortar program is reputable, the school has created an online program as a money-making scheme. They may run it very well, but they’re dramatically increasing the number of graduates, while jobs aren’t increasing. You end up with a large number of graduates with unrealistic expectations of job prospects, and the people with the on-campus degrees tend to do much better. I’m not even talking about BAD online programs (of which there are many.) And there’s a trend I’ve seen towards not noting on a resume that the degree was completed online. This seems especially tempting when it was granted by a school with a “real” campus. But anyone reading the resume can usually tell when, say, the person is working full-time in Massachusetts while completing a degree in Pennsylvania. In that case the person comes off as dishonest.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Beth, in general you’re more generous than me in giving the online programs the benefit of the doubt. I also think this is a great point that seems to often be true: even when the bricks and mortar program is reputable, the school has created an online program as a money-making scheme.

      I will disagree, though, that people are being dishonest when they don’t mark their program as online. Their diplomas are not marked differently. Supposedly the schoold hold them to the same standards. I haven’t heard of anyone marking their degrees as online on resumes.

  51. Amber*

    #1: I had a co-op this summer and was late on my first day, too. Yikes! I left myself enough time to get there but I had to take the highway and somehow I didn’t realize at first that I’d merged onto the southbound highway instead of the northbound one. By the time I realized what had happened and what I’d done, I was going to be at least 15 minutes late, if not more. Thankfully, my manager was pretty understanding and the rest of the co-op went well. :)

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