I attended U.T.I. from 05-06, Glendale Heights campus.
My Background:I was attending in my mid twenties, having spent the last decade working dead-end jobs and was looking to learn a trade. I was paying for this on my own dime, knowing that every penny of debt accrued was coming from my wallet, I did not take this lightly. I worked in the auto parts business prior to attending U.T.I.. I had the advantage of visiting actual auto shops daily, interacting with people in the industry, seeing standard industry equipment in both dealerships and independent shops. I more importantly was able to speak with then current U.T.I. students working in those shops and able to ask questions about the school. I had an idea of what I was signing up for.
When I took my tour, the recruiter (salesman) asked me a little about my automotive knowledge/ accomplishments. When I told him (tune-ups, LOFs, exhaust work, minor welding and body work, brake lathe work, and machine pressing) he seemed taken aback. He told me most kids walking in were lucky to find the steering wheel. When I took the tour of the main campus itself, I was impressed by the cleanliness and organization of the facility. I say this having seen both extremes of disorganized shops and well organized ones. I was pleased to see the very equipment i had seen in every shop and dealership.
The sales pitch was what I expected, take it for what it is. When I was told I could make $100k fresh out of graduation, I laughed. That's what doctors and lawyers make my friends, you don't see them coming out of a 54 week tech school. USE YOUR LOGIC! You COULD make $100k, somehow, your first year, but let's be honest, you will not. It's not impossible, but neither is winning a bare knuckle fight against a grizzly bear.
So I signed up to learn the ways of the automotive technician.
My class size was around 100. Within one week it was obvious that many of these kids were not ready to be there. To be fair, most students were fresh from high school, and this was their first time away from home. The school made it very clear that they expected a professional atmosphere. Most kids still had a high school mentality. They were not ready for a minimum wage job flipping burgers much less a career managing the SAFETY of 2 tons of metal traveling at high speeds.
The orientation was a two day cringe fest. If I am not mistaken, two students actually dropped out at this point. Suffice to say, the orientation is an awful, awful part of the program that should be re-evaluated and restructured. However it does give students a single horrible common experience to lament the following weeks. So, I guess there is that.
Actual Class Experience:
The first thing and perhaps most important thing to say about the learning experience: YOU GET EXACTLY WHAT YOU PUT IN. The lazy kids who just did tasks to do tasks and learned nothing LEARNED NOTHING. What is the point of understanding an electrical circuit? So you know how one works! Guess what all those neat wires in your car are? That's right: CIRCUITS! Want to cheat your way through a test? Go ahead. It worked in high school right? Well hate to break this to you, but you are here to actually learn, so when you cheat because you were too lazy to learn and understand how something works, you not only cheated yourself out of those tens of thousands of dollars, but god forbid you get a job and have to figure out how to actually DO YOUR JOB.
The classes were chock full of information. Why were we learning out dated automotive tech? Because it was these simple principles that were built upon in order to learn the more complex systems. And yes, we did learn the more complex systems. I found no fault with the actual knowledge imparted. I have used it often.
The instructors told the kids flat out, some of you are not cut out for this industry. You will not leave this school making $100k. If you honestly believe that you are going to make $100k your first year then you are a fool. The most foolish of the kids still didn't listen. The instructors said "get a job in the fields ASAP, even just changing oil or pushing a broom" Many graduating students still hadn't even started LOOKING. What was their excuse? "The job placement people are supposed to find me a job". See how far that gets you in life. The only jobs start at $8.50. Yeah, they do. Guess what? You are an unproven commodity. Show up for work, do your job. Prove your worth. Let me repeat that. PROVE YOUR WORTH. Want to make $15.00 an hour? Show that you can EARN it. These instructors are not your mom. This isn't a public school. There isn't a no child left behind policy. People failed classes. This was not the instructors fault. 29/30 understood the material. 29/30 put the work into the class. The kid that usually failed was the one who showed up late, hungover, and slept through class.
Modern equipment, functional equipment, clean equipment. Guess who gets to clean it? That's right! You do! Just like in real life. You think your boss is going to hire a janitor to clean your bay? NOPE. You think your boss is going to hire someone to put your tools away? NOPE. You don't want to clean because you are amazing and worth $100k a year right out of school? Ha ha ha. I worked at that shop my friend, funny how all your tools fit into your compact car when you got fired that very same day. Mad that the car you are working on is 10 years old? Guess what? You will learn something from it. I found all the equipment satisfactory, functional and the instructors familiar in its safe usage. If something was broken, it was ALWAYS because of student misuse or neglect.
The student body:
They definitely fill the seats. This is a for profit school after all. They sell a product. They inform you how to use it. It is up to you to use product as directed. Unfortunately not everyone seems to read the directions. As stated above, some people were just filling seats. When I started, I knew literally none of the other students. After 3 weeks, I knew who I didn't want to bother working with. There is a ton of group work throughout the course. It was imperative to find the correct team. Every 3 weeks your class would change, thus changing available team members. In a class of 100, I think I worked with maybe 10-15 different team members. If you were incompetent, you would quickly find yourself with the other rejects. This was common practice. The better part of the class was not here to make friends, we were there to learn and this was costing us money. If you plan on treating a for profit trade school as your college experience, you are going to do poorly. You did not come here for a piece of paper, you came here to learn a lot, quickly. That is not to say that this was a total strict and utterly serious at all times experience. This was a trade school for mechanics after all. There is/was plenty of joking around going on. If you are readily and easily offended, become a priest, a shop is not the place for you. I have many fond memories and some hilarious stories from my time there. Yes this was a "professional environment" but consider the profession you aspire to join. There was a minimum 70% grade to pass. 70% is average. You do not want a below average person in charge of making your vehicle stop. In the higher programs, 80% grade was passing. This was generally an open book test. People still managed to fail open book tests. Let me repeat that. PEOPLE MANAGED TO FAIL OPEN BOOK TESTS. This is not a jab at the testing practices. In life, there are a plethora of tools to lead you to the correct diagnosis.
You were graded on:bookwork/testing. Pretty Straightforwardlab/hands on. How you conduct yourself and your results. Just like real life.attendance. Showing up, everyday, on time. Just like real life.
As you can see, you are graded in the same manner an employee would be assessed.
The Much Lamented Job Placement Office
The salesman said something about 8/10 students getting jobs right out of school, high demand, blah blah blah. When I want a job, I look for one. I show that I WANT A JOB. I do not rely on someone else showing an employer that I want a job. ME getting a job is MY responsibility. Want to cry about not getting hired? Check your attitude. Your attitude may make you unemployable. Yes the school has placement services. I never used them, so I have no review of their abilities. The only time I ever heard from them was a year or two after graduation, they called asking if I needed a job. I was at work, so no, I didn't.
I have successfully applied the skills and lessons learned from my time at U.T.I. in both my work and my life.I learned quite a bit from my time at U.T.I. I was dedicated to learning the trade. I have binders upon binders filled with notes scrawled all over the pages. Look at the negative reviews on this site, can they say the same? There are many different ways to learn the automotive trade. Community colleges offer many of the same programs for a much shallower price. You could get a job at a shop and learn the ropes and get paid to do it there too. A year and change will not make you an automotive god, I don't care what you do, but it can serve as a solid foundation. I left, proud of my accomplishment. I work in the field, comfortable in my knowledge base. My suggestion would be to make 100% sure that this is the field that you actually want to pursue, and more importantly, that you truly have an aptitude for this kind of work. This school is definitely not for everyone. You will probably only make $25k your first few years, depending on your area. This is not a cheap field to work in. Tools will eventually cost you about $100k. The work can be very physically demanding. The working conditions extremely uncomfortable.
If I had the choice to repeat the experience or not, I would do it again wholeheartedly. I'm happy to answer questions regarding this review.
Product or Service Mentioned: Universal Technical Institute Program.
Reason of review: Good quality.
I liked: Instructors, Electives, Hands on training, Curriculum, Conduct standards, Discipline.