Any college experience is better than no college experience, right? One would hope, but some colleges are so bad they leave students wishing they stayed at home. Some have a god-awful graduation rate-to-tuition ratio, troubling faculty, and public scandals, while others are just downright dangerous.
We’ve compiled a list of the top seven worst colleges in America in no particular order. It can be difficult to accurately judge a college’s quality of education without ever setting foot in their classrooms. Instead, schools earned their spot on our worst of the worst list based on their statistical data and crime rates, among other criteria.
Location: New York, New York.
Trump University was established in 2005. Former president, Donald Trump, launched the college after his widespread notoriety as a television show host. Trump explained his plans for the university were to create a “legacy as an educator” by “imparting lots of knowledge.” The curriculum centers around real estate knowledge.
Trump University has since been the subject of public controversy and three separate lawsuits, resulting in damages paid to 6,000 students in a settlement agreement. Instructors were said to be little interested in educating students and more focused on extracting money from them.
The worst part must be that this “college” used the term “university” without possessing an actual New York State Education Department license. Trump University paid over $25 million in settlements before being shut down in 2010.
The University of South Carolina at Aiken
Location: Aiken, South Carolina.
USC Aiken hits out lost due to awful statistical data. It’s likely you’ll be out way more money than you’re making after graduating from this university.
USC Aiken only has a 41% graduation rate, while graduates can expect to earn a median of $41,000 with a degree. Despite this, it will run you $18,500 a year. Lastly, USC Aiken is known for its lackluster college scene, a sleepy little campus with little social stimulation to speak of. If you’re looking for a quiet place to focus on your degree and think you can beat the dismal statistics, then have at it. Party seekers, enroll elsewhere.
Location: Garland, Texas.
Remington College was exposed for insidious recruitment practices and simply false faculty instruction for students. A 2010 ABC News investigation found Remington College recruiters offering erroneous advice, promising, among other things, criminal justice career prospects to convicted felons as a way to gain the students' enrollment and tuition.
A so-called non-profit college, Remington has been exposed for seeking the non-profit label in 2010 to bypass U.S. Department of Education regulation and collect more funds from student financial aid. All signs point to a scam masquerading as a college.
Location: Dover Delaware
Although Wesley College was acquired by Delaware State University in 2021 and shuttered, its numbers are worth noting. Wesley was mostly known for academics in health and behavioral sciences. The average student loan debt was $31,084 despite only a 17% graduation rate. For the dedicated few to graduate, they can only expect to earn a starting salary of about $42,900 6 years after graduation.
As noted, Delaware State University assimilated Wesley and their downtown Dover campus, the first time a historically black college or university has done so. The 50 acres of land and 14 academic programs were rebranded as Downtown DSU, with the Wesley College of Health and Behavioral Sciences honoring the legacy name. Though DSU's tuition is higher (especially for out of state students), a higher percentage of students receive financial aid of some sort, and 87% of graduates either go on to graduate school or are placed in their chosen career field.
Location: Naperville, Illinois.
Their millions of TV commercials market DeVry as an online school where working adults can earn degrees. Something about a college that needs to advertise so much just seems off, and headlines surrounding DeVry does not bode well.
In 2013 Bloomberg covered how DeVry’s two Caribbean medical colleges were charging higher tuition rates for an inadequate education. With an open acceptance policy, their target market was the pool of students rejected from U.S. medical colleges. Amassing a median debt of $253,072, most students quit but can't escape their debt. DeVry’s graduation rate is 29%, and students can expect to earn only $44,100 annually six years after graduating.
University of California, Santa Barbara
Location: Santa Barbara, California
You might be wondering how any California college could make this list, located in a state known for beautiful people and even prettier weather. UC Santa Barbara earns its spot solely due to its exceedingly high crime rate.
In 2019 UC Santa Barbara reported 582 incidents of crime and safety, about 22 incidents per every 1,000 students. A staggering 89.3% of these reports happened on campus, and 8.6% in the surrounding neighborhood. Out of the UCs, it has the highest instances of sexual crimes, including stalking, rape, and fondling. It is consistently ranked as “the most dangerous university.”
Western International University
Location: Tempe, Arizona.
Closed in 2019, this college was notorious for having one of the lowest graduation rates in the country. At the time it was recorded with a measly 3% graduation rate, which increased slightly before closing in 2019 with an 11% graduation rate (still not great).
On a positive note, Western International became one of the cheaper schools in its area in later years, with tuition of only $6,000 a year and no-cost textbooks. This was most likely an attempt to stay afloat and compete with higher education, which ultimately resulted in its downfall.
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Editor's Note: Republished with a corrected statement about the merging of Delaware State University and Wesley College.