Comcourse Reviews

Updated November 4, 2014
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3.5
24 Reviews
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James Chellis
18 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (1)

    Good company in a difficult industry

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Comcourse

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    It was an interesting place to work, in the sense that there was a diversity of things to do.

    Overall, I thought the management was good. They probably could communicate more about the company. There seemed to be a lot of changes going on while I was there. But when I asked questions I was given clear responses quickly.

    I like it. Downtown Santa Cruz is pretty crazy sometimes, but the company space was generally quiet and people stayed focused on work most of the time.

    Cons

    They are in a difficult industry. I had a hard time getting as many enrollments as they wanted. It seemed like the students I talked to had a lot of choices of schools, and it was really hard to keep them in school when I did get enrollments. There are so many steps involved for a student to enroll, and it's easy to lose students in the process when we are just talking on the phone or on email.

    Advice to Management

    Communicate more with the employees. Manage their expectations better.

  2. Best place I ever worked, still friends with some of the people there

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Comcourse full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I worked at Comcourse for 3.5 years. It was great for me. I was able to live and work in Santa Cruz where I wanted to stay with my family. Their office is really nice and most of the people who work there are great too. I'm still friends with some of them. I got what I was promised and the job was great! I've worked in some places that aren't even close to being as good. Most of the people there are really positive and upbeat and that really contributes to a good feeling about the company. The upper management was always great to me, very friendly and they would come chat in the lounge sometimes. Especially the VP of HR, he always had great advice. They really just treated me like they cared about me and that made a big difference.

    Cons

    I just left because I found a higher paying job at another company. My biggest con of the job was that some of my fellow employees complained all the time about the stupidest things. I'm not that old myself but sometimes it felt like I was working with a bunch of kids. Not everyone was like that, luckily, but I guess a few people stand out in my mind. I think that the company gets picked on sometimes because some people can't accept getting laid off or not big raises like they think they deserve.

    Advice to Management

    Keep it up. From where I sit you're doing a good job, Maybe hire some more experienced people who won't complain so much.

  3. Helpful (2)

    Unmitigated Disaster Plus Cheez-Its

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Cruz, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Cruz, CA

    I worked at Comcourse full-time (More than a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The Cheez-Its! Endless, everlasting Cheez-Its! An eternal and all-enveloping celebration of deliciously artificial orange cheese squares!
    Say what you like about how it's a total disaster in every other respect, Comcourse got a hard snack game. As long as you like Costco snacks. Coffee's great. For a while, we even had blood oranges from the farmer's market every week -- unbelievably delicious, oh my god how I miss those oranges.

    Other than that... pay's just OK. Benefits are nothing to write home about -- you'll get health insurance (which you're gonna need because of all those Cheez-Its, you cheese-chugging keyboard humper!), and some other basics. No retirement contributions or anything fancy like that.

    Cons

    What hasn't been said? It's hugely disorganized. The pay is on the low end. For a lot of folks there, this is their first professional corporate job, so there's a lot of turnover (even in good times) as people develop enough skills to jump ship for higher pay. In bad times, there's absolutely no safety margin built into the company's finances, so layoffs are sudden and widespread.

    Upper management is disconnected, disinterested, cynical, and usually incompetent. There's no effort to salvage employee morale, because there's no respect for low-level employees. For many employees, it's just a job, tolerated because there are so few opportunities in Santa Cruz. The bulk of the most competent folks left long ago.

    The students are just grist for the mill. One look at the degrees sold by client schools and it's painfully obvious that these poor people are getting fleeced. Pretty shameful, actually, and not a part of the job I was proud of.

    Yes, there is a lot of complaining. Yes, some of it's trivial. A lot of it isn't. This company is broken from the top down. Don't work here. A lot of places have Cheez-Its these days.

    Advice to Management

    Go to the bathroom. Walk to the sink. Look at the shiny thing above the sink. You will see a face in it. Fire that person.

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  5. Helpful (3)

    Start up environment in a distressed market

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Comcourse full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    Frequent opportunities for advancement, creative challenges, exposure to customers, excellent HR, start-up, problem solving highly valued.

    Cons

    Disorganized operations, micromanagement from the top, favoritism to unskilled management, compensation too low to retain competitive talent. Vulnerable to a highly competitive marketplace in crisis.

    Advice to Management

    Consider performance-based compensation to retain strong talent. Utilize objective, data-driven decision-making metrics, do not drive decisions from opinions of managers. Promote idea-sourcing from highly skilled staff with open communication channels, don't filter it through management.

  6. Helpful (3)

    Run for the hills! A company on it's last breath.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Cruz, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Cruz, CA

    I have been working at Comcourse full-time

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    Pros

    The bagels are nice.

    Cons

    The majority of management is non-communicative, set in their ways, and afraid to roll up their sleeves. The CEO is hands off and prone to erratic uniformed decision making. He had said on multiple occasions he has no idea what the majority of his management team actually does. Meetings are held where the sky is perpetually falling and you are set to highly unrealistic goals. You are reminded that if they are not hit, people will be let go. Practically in the same sentence, the CEO will also say he has no idea if the current business model actually works these days.

    Same day recent layoffs end of May lead to a huge decline in morale. Weird politics that you cannot avoid, and past employee treatment that will make you cringe. I have seen a lot of great people come and go, either through lay off or on their own. I'm here hoping to make it a better place because there is not much work wise in Santa Cruz, and I'm a homeowner, so my options are limited.

    All in all, not a healthy place.

    Advice to Management

    Fire yourselves and call it a day boys.

  7. Helpful (1)

    Great place to learn and grow.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Comcourse full-time (More than a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Comcourse is a great place to network, develop your skills while selling a product which helps people! Students get their education and universities grow in the online world. The product is something you can get behind because it's something worth while.

    Cons

    Not enough communication from the higher ups. Would have appreciated more company wide meetings. More opportunities to speak with you. If we don't know what's going on, the rumor mill starts and it gets ugly pretty fast. You've got a lot of smart people in there, why not talk to them more?

    Advice to Management

    Make it a point to have more honest conversations with your employees and they'll have less temptation to "fill in the blanks" with speculation.

  8. Good for the experience, didn't have an opportunity for advancement

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Comcourse full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Working at Comcourse was interesting. The company is clearly going through a changes but I thought it was a decent place to work. I was never bored and everyone I worked with was friendly and supportive. The strategy seems to be to work at Comcourse for a couple of years, getting experience, and then move on to a higher-paying job over the hill. I saw several people do that while I was there. They actually seemed pretty happy about the result.

    I liked being by the farmers market and downtown coffee shops, although it can get a crazy in downtown SC.

    If given the chance, I would do it again. Good place to land in a university town.

    Cons

    No complaints, really, except that, perhaps, the opportunities for upward mobility were somewhat limited.

  9. Great experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Comcourse full-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Comcourse was a great experience for me. When I started, my job was just so so, but I was given the opportunity to switch departments, which made a big difference. I gained a ton of valuable experience that eventually led me to my current job, which pays better and has a better title. My direct supervisor was awesome, organized, listened to me, etc. The top executives were pretty flexible about fitting me into a position that fit my skill set better, and they were easy to talk to. The only reason I left was because this new job came up that pays more and is closer to home.

    Cons

    Some of the jobs aren't as fun as others. Some of the departments can be a little chaotic. But not really any major complaints to be honest.

    Advice to Management

    You have a lot going on there, I would try to simplify a bit. Not really sure how you would do that. Otherwise, keep up the good work!

  10. Good company and good manager, felt in the dark about company decisions

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Comcourse full-time

    Recommends
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Comcourse is a good place to work and my manager was great. I was given freedom to do my job and didn't have someone looking over my shoulder all the time. They were also very flexible and accomodating with my needs. My manager was a super happy guy, probably the best I've ever worked for. I was promoted once while I was there without even asking. I liked that. I ended up having to leave for reasons unrelated to the company.

    Cons

    I felt like I was in the dark about some of the company's decisions that didn't make sense to me. I mean, the CEO wasn't a bad guy, I just never really got to talk to him very much. Also some of the people I worked around were really loud!

    Advice to Management

    Tell the employees more about what's happening with the company. And maybe get taller cubicle so it isn't so loud back there!

  11. Helpful (2)

    Great Place to Start a Career, Even Better by Santa Cruz Standards

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Cruz, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Santa Cruz, CA

    I worked at Comcourse full-time (More than 3 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - Most positions are entry level (great for recent graduates, people looking for a new career, etc.).
    - Staff is passionate about education (prospective clients/partners/employees, you could not ask for a staff more dedicated to education and student and faculty success).
    - Kitchen facilities are unbeatable, including snacks and enough food otherwise to never really need to buy breakfast or lunch (but don't be one of those people who takes advantage of this everyday--we all know who you are and resent you for eating all the bagels so soon after the Costco delivery).
    - Occasionally provides additional perks such as weekly yoga classes or tickets to local events
    - End of year holiday bonus
    - Incredible group of people; very sociable and welcoming; instant friends
       - To everyone who recognizes my writing style and is for some reason looking at this: Hi, I miss you!
    - Casual office environment
    - It's in Santa Cruz
    - Great downtown location within Santa Cruz

    Comcourse is a great place to start a career in education, be it online education or traditional. The work experience gained there transfers well throughout the industry, and in many ways, the educational experience they provide is superior to more recognizable institutions).

    Additionally, as the Santa Cruz area is severely lacking in career or industry (any industry) opportunities--if you know the area, you know most jobs befit college students and pay barely about minimum wage--Comcourse is one of the few places in town where you can be a professional and not a barista/waiter/retail worker, etc.

    And it cannot be understated how amazing the co-worker/peer pool is, even though I already said that. Hiring is one of Comcourse's greatest strength. You will, nearly instantly, feel like part of a family and have a built-in social network.

    I'd give Comcourse 5-stars were I not a realist; work is work, and 5-stars should be reserved: people who are inflating their own business's scores, people who have jobs that 90% of us would consider recreation and people who work at Pixar (from what I hear).

    Cons

    Warning: This list is not meant to dissuade prospective applicants. These realities were explained to me within my first few weeks, and I appreciated and benefited from hearing them throughout my many years at Comcourse. If you talk yourself out of a position here because of the negative reviews on this site, you are doing yourself an incredible disservice, as the positives heavily outweigh the negatives.

    - The clients' academic standards do not meet Comcourse's academic standards, and this can be frustrating. But online education standards are low in general, throughout the industry.
    - It's older than what you'd traditional call a "start-up" but still feels like one at times. But again, this is generally true throughout the industry, which is in many ways still in its infancy.
    - You will see the dark side of online, for-profit education and often feel powerless, dirty or depressed in the face of it. Remind yourself that because you care at your students, you can still make a positive difference.
    - Medical benefits are not very good and continued to decline during my tenure (dental was okay though).
    - No retirement benefits
    - If you are not in the Admissions/Marketing department, you are somewhat a second-class citizen. If you are joining Admissions/Marketing, respect your co-workers and don't act like you own the place; otherwise you will be, deservedly, alienated and disliked. Remember, you wouldn't have a job and your higher paycheck if it was for everyone else working a support role.
    - Because most positions are entry-level, you will encounter a wide range of experience, ability, work ethic and work standards in your co-workers, and this can also be frustrating at times.
    - There are not many opportunities for professional advancement; most positions do not have a higher tier available.
    - The annual raise system makes it difficult to remain with the company over the long-term considering the extremely high cost of living in Santa Cruz (you'll make better money elsewhere and pay the same, if not significantly less, for rent, food, etc.).
    - It's in Santa Cruz (the town isn't for everyone).
    - Many co-workers take the unbeatable kitchen facilities for granted, do not appreciate them and assume their mothers will come in and clean up after them at the end of the day.
    - Downtown location can be a curse as well as a blessing (think transients and street performer noise)
    - There are no secrets (a con to the staff being so close with one another). You will learn that people who do significantly less work than you make significantly more (but hey, welcome to the real world); you will hear things about the company you do not want to hear (the same negatives occur with every business but do not as readily filter out/down)
    - Many of its partner institutions are "faith-based". This could be a 'Pro' for some, but I'm including it here because these institutions do not share the more liberal beliefs of most Californians (especially Cruzians), and I felt like most people there would personally prefer not to handle Christian content or combine education and religion so heavily (they still pull it off proficiently, potential faith-based clients)

    Despite there being more Cons listed here than Pros, I feel Comcourse is nonetheless deserving of the 4-stars I gave it. While it is certainly not perfect--what place of employment is?--it is not deserving of the 1-star reviews here.

    Advice to Management

    First, don't read this unless you plan on making it all the way to the end.

    - You employ a very smart, talented, dedicated group of individuals who are often more aware of the day-to-day operations and inefficiencies of your company than you're able to be (sorry, but that's another universal truth with large companies). Solicit feedback from them and attempt to utilize their full, untapped potential. Comcourse would tremendously benefit from a(n) (anonymous) suggestion box.
    - Invest more in attempting to monetize other departments; admissions does not need to be the sole revenue source, and maybe, ethically, it shouldn't be...
         - For example, from what I saw, your Course Developments methods are very effective compared with industry standards, in terms of cost and pedagogy. What does it cost for you to develop a course? 5 to 10k at most I'm guessing, from talking to your developers? I have clients that pay 100k for comparable products; you just have to find them and market to them. They're out there, in spades.
    - Communicate downwards and company-wide more often, but...
    - Let HR handle HR issues and communications
    - Praise your staff more in company-wide situations (quarterly meetings, holiday parties, etc.). The high-ups don't need praise--they have bigger paychecks that say thank you for you--but the little folks do
    - Acknowledge and work with the fact that there are no secrets. i.e. don't get gestapo; just acknowledge harsh realities honestly when necessary and be appropriately sympathetic when possible. You're on the same team as your team.
    - Ok, if you've made it this far, now you can pat yourselves on the back. You have an amazing company, and I'm proud and thankful to have worked for you.

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