Free Tacos on Your Mother’s Dime and Your Father’s Lawyer

By Larry Chen

Today, while walking back from class, I noticed that there was a purple truck set up outside Pauley with a long line snaking out from it. Sensing free stuff, I made a beeline for the truck, and after seeing that people were leaving the truck with tacos, I got very excited. It wasn’t until I got closer to the truck that I noticed which company was being so incredibly generous to us. It was Kaplan Test Prep, subsidiary of the for-profit company Kaplan, Inc, specializing in test prep and educational services. My face soured. I turned away and walked past the truck, scowl etched on my face. As a reader who probably likes tacos, you might be asking why I would be so stupid as to turn away from free food. In return, I would ask you to imagine a person standing next to you, with their hands stuck deep into your pockets looking for every last coin.

Now imagine that person looked you in the eye, and gave you a taco to distract you from their meddling hands. Would you take that taco? I definitely wouldn’t.

For those that might be a little weirded out by that metaphor, let me give a bit of background information on why Kaplan’s spirit animal is a shady dude violating your wallet. As a forprofit company, Kaplan is by definition trying to make money off of your education. Kaplan is one of those companies that releases a new edition of their textbooks every year after changing a few words, passing it off as some bleeding edge product that stays up-to-date with tests that stay the same. What is an AP World History study guide staying up to date with? Did Christopher Columbus figure out how to use a GPS and find the real India? If he did, great, maybe that’d warrant a new study guide. But alas, history doesn’t change, so nor should it’s study guides.

Besides their questionable study guide updates, Kaplan has also gotten in trouble with its test prep classes, too. In 2015, Kaplan settled a lawsuit with the Department of Justice about accusations that Kaplan had employed instructors for their test prep classes that were not qualified to teach. $1 million was paid out to 289 students in the settlement. To me, it sounds like Kaplan is trying to cut corners by lowering their requirements for instructors so they can pay them less.

This leads into my biggest problem with for-profit companies like Kaplan: I don’t think that anyone should be considering making a profit while trying to shape someone’s primary education pathway. I especially don’t think it’s okay for Kaplan to try and distract the people they’re trying to rip off with gifts of tacos. Maybe if Kaplan could prove that they had their students’ best interests at heart, I might consider begrudgingly taking their delicious tortilla wrapped delicacies. But until then, screw Kaplan, and screw their tacos.

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