How the School for Gods Seduced America

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An Italian pop stars for-profit school charged exorbitant sums to help students attain the jet-set lifeeven as the state authority claimed it was dodging the law.”>

In 2002, the co-founder of the European School of Economics, an Italian businessman and former rock musician named Elio DAnna, released a novel in which a man named The Dreamer creates a school where one will learn that happiness is economy that wealth, leisure and beauty are every mans birthright.

The book described this place as a School for Gods.

Eight years before, DAnna had created his paradise in real-life in Rome, and campuses for his school spread throughout Europefrom Paris to Londonover the next half-decade.

The schools philosophy was like a secular version of the prosperity gospel or that Oprah-sanctioned juggernaut The Secretyou are destined to get rich if you just believe it hard enoughand for $90,000 a year, the European School of Economics would help you actualize the jet-set life.

DAnnas confidence in his vision shines through in his novel, also titled The School for Gods. Dont fear any attack, the Dreamer counsels. It will seem as though youre hindered in every way, but every difficulty or enemy will, in actual fact, turn out to be your closest ally, an integral and irreplaceable part of this construction.

Yet even as DAnnas School for Gods expanded and aligned itself with celebrities like Kris Jenner and Donald Trump, it faced a slew of lawsuits abroad and in the U.S. over unpaid debts to former faculty and contractorsand cease-and-desist letters from the New York State Education Department, which told The Daily Beast that until this year, the school did not have permission to operate or advertise degree programs in the state.

The European School of Economics (ESE) did not respond to multiple Daily Beast requests for comment.

When attacks on the European School of Economics shortcomings came to light on the websites like CollegeTimes.Co, the school tried to have them scrubbed from the web.

Jesse Nickles of CollegeTimes.Co, which collects reviews of colleges and universities, said he received a takedown request of a negative review in the form of a bizarre, poorly written email from the email address of ESEs CEO, Alessandro Nomellini, last year.

As The Daily Beast previously reported
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The schools Wikipedia page, which currently does not mention any of the schools legal battles, has been edited several times to remove controversies.

One section, titled Legal, once alluded to a lawsuit that ESE won against the Italian government, over whether the school could confer British-validated degrees within the country. It also mentioned several other international lawsuits filed against the school, like a 2009 fraud suit filed in Italy that the school eventually lost. The section was summarily deleted in January of 2014.

This kind of blackout on criticism can be a particular detriment for students looking to research a school as prestigious-sounding as the European School of Economicsor the Legacy Business School, which is apparently its new name in Manhattan, or so claims the New York State Education Department.

I would hope that students understand what theyre getting into in the New York area. We want to make sure that students go in with their eyes open, said Stephanie Cellini.

Cellini is a professor at George Washington University who has written extensively about the impact of for-profit colleges on the economyand on students wallets. While she usually works more with quantitative data, she doesnt think shes ever heard of another school with the $100,000-plus-per-year price tag that comes with a Legacy Business School certificate. (While ESE handed out Bachelors and Masters degrees through its now-defunct partnership with the University of Buckingham, Legacy is only offering certificates.)

In the meantime, it leaves those searching for a new school particularly vulnerableand reliant on Internet searches that are scrubbed of criticism.

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