They gather in a generic suburban office park, working-class students chasing a fast track to success: a college degree.
But the message at the University of Phoenix orientation is not quite what these secretaries, mental health aides, working moms and single dads expect.
"We want you to decide if this is right for you," says Sam Fitzgerald, director of academic affairs at the school's four St. Louis campuses. "We're here to help you figure it out."
That candor would have been anathema not too long ago in the lucrative world of for-profit colleges, where recruiters received hefty bonuses and often oversold career prospects.