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Colorado Springs changes name, direction

The following article is from The Gazette

Everest College is no more.

The 21 Everest campuses across the nation, including the Colorado Springs location at 1815 Jetwing Drive, were rebranded Tuesday as Altierus Career College.

It's part of a rebuilding of the school, which locally offers training in dental assistant, medical assistant, medical administration assistant, massage therapy and a new program, computer information technology.

"We view this as more than just a name change," said Executive Director Carissa Seger, who oversees campuses in Colorado Springs, Thornton and Henderson, Nev. "It truly is a rebrand and a shift from a for-profit to a nonprofit. Our business model is fundamentally different from our previous owner."

Low enrollment, accreditation changes force Colorado Springs college to close
Former owner Corinthian Colleges Inc., once one of the nation's largest for-profit career school systems, in 2014 sold more than half of its campuses to the nonprofit Zenith Education Group. The local campus converted in February 2015.

Corinthian also filed for bankruptcy in 2015, following state and federal allegations that it had deceived students with false graduation and job placement rates. The same year, a federal court ordered Corinthian to pay $550 million in a lawsuit for steering students into predatory loans.

The Colorado Springs campus remained open during the ownership transition, so students were able to complete programs they had started, Seger said.

The campus now is working on switching its national accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges. The organization wanted all locations to be under the same accrediting body, Seger said.

Numerous changes have occurred since the school became a nonprofit, she said, including a 20 percent tuition reduction and concentrating on job placement instead of enrollment.

In Colorado Springs, 70 percent of students who completed programs so far this year have secured jobs in the field, Seger said. Some programs have higher rates - medical assistant is 83 percent placement and dental assistant is 78 percent, she said.

"We're in a place where our career services department is getting calls from employers," Seger said. "There's a lot of demand to fill the jobs, so our graduates have ample opportunities."

The school works with such employers as MatthewsVu Medical, Colorado Springs Health Partners, Kids in Need of Dentistry and others to receive input on curriculum, provide externships and connect graduates with jobs.

The school also upgraded its labs and equipment to better simulate the workplace, made other curriculum improvements and increased standards for instructor credentialing.

Tuition ranges from $11,000 to $15,000 for a program, which can take up to 10 months to complete. Scholarships and grants are available.

"Our goal is when students graduate they don't have an excessive amount of debt," Seger said.

The school's enrollment of 115 students is fewer than the past, she said, but "it's to be expected because we're prioritizing quality outcomes over enrollment. We want to ensure students have the right fit in a career field that makes sense for them and is fulfilling."

Zenith Education Group struggled after the acquisition, laying off more than half its workforce and losing thousands of students and millions of dollars. The sale included an agreement to forgive $480 million of debt held by former Corinthian students.

In July 2016, Zenith hired a new CEO and secured a $250 million endowment to fortify operations.

The school's new name is a portmanteau - which means it's a new word created using parts of others words. The words are "alternative," referring to a different pathway for students, who get a learning experience that is a "tier" above others, and is promoted by all of "us" - students, faculty, staff and employers.

"We're focused on our mission to help students succeed, not on shareholder return, which has enabled us to focus on being unique in the career college space," Seger said.

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