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Your Online Education Experience?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-more-teachers'-dirty-looks dept.

Education 428

pspahn writes "I am currently enrolled at a very well-known online school. I was hesitant when I enrolled; now more than a year has gone by, and I am regretting my decision. The main problem is that I am not learning anything. I have several years' experience with Web design, yet I was not allowed to bypass Intro to Web Design 1. Similarly, there are other classes on my list that will teach me very little I don't already know, yet will cost me money all the same. Now, I do have a great desire to learn and to further myself academically, but I just don't see much value in continuing to take classes I could have aced in ninth grade. It is also difficult when fellow classmates clearly have very little intelligent input to offer and our online discussions are reminiscent of an AOL chat room. While it is possible simply to attend a local school in person, I would much prefer an online environment as it seems to be a more natural medium considering the content of my studies. I am interested specifically in Information Security programs. What online education programs have Slashdot readers been happy with and considered successful?"

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well... (5, Informative)

Soilworker (795251) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040172)

You will experience the same problems with other types of educations. You only study to get the paper, if you want to learn stuffs do it by yourself.

Well, you get what you pay for ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040356)

My experience was different. I "needed" a masters degree for work; field was irrelevant. I went with TAMU's online math program. I paid quite a bit more than my peers, but also got challenged and learned a lot. Did I get a real masters of math? No, but I got what I paid for.

Re:well... (3, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040370)

Amen to the self-taught. With pretty much anything, cracking open some books and software (where applicable) will teach you through experience. There's not much point to going through the motions just for a piece of paper if you're truly self-taught already. The only problem is that businesses want that piece of paper in greater and greater numbers. It's been a long time since I worked with anyone who didn't have a university degree of some sort, even the sysadmins are educated nowadays. It's become a profession, even if there is no global overseeing body of accreditation like the Engineers have. Personally I'd prefer someone self-taught if their interests happened to coincide with a university degree, but having that degree guarantees you have a certain minimum education. With a highly competitive workforce, I'd have no option but to give the job to someone who has proven their willingness to put 4 years and significant money into a degree. Believe me, my first 2-3 years of university were boring because I was self taught from the age of 14. It wasn't until the 400 series classes that things got interesting and new (and fun!)

Re:well... (3, Informative)

theskipper (461997) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040466)

To be fair, there is a difference between serious, accredited universities and paper mills. If he's enrolled in one of the schools profiled in the Frontline documentary below, then he may simply be getting ripped off.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/collegeinc/?utm_campaign=homepage&utm_medium=proglist&utm_source=proglist [pbs.org]

It's pretty sad since these folks really are trying to better themselves.

Re:well... (1)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040598)

Still it happens in real schools too. I went to a school that's ranked in the Top 20 in the world for a CS&E degree and first year was a joke. Stuff like univariate differential algebra that i'd covered previously in high school. Even second year math had stuff like fourier and z-transforms which was also covered in advance high school classes.

Can't remember any of that shit now, but it turns out a degree is more of a tool to open doors than learn stuff.

Re:well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040734)

Well, you may vaguely remember your teacher mentioning the terms "Fourier Transform" or "Z transform" in high school.

But, no, you didn't seriously study any continuous or discrete transforms in high school. Same with topology.

Re:well... (5, Informative)

UNIX_Meister (461634) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040602)

I think you make an important distinction. I attended two traditional brick-and-mortar undergraduate state universities in engineering and math/computer science. I wouldn't characterize the learning as "outstanding" at either, since I did learn a lot more on the job. However, the quality between these and the UofPhx where I got my masters was astounding.

I didn't learn anything. I learned a few things in an accounting class that helps me with budgeting for a non-profit I'm involved with. But most of the work was busy work - reading and posting messages to a Outlook-based message forum. We also had to do 4-5 page papers each week, but the grading was very lax. There was also a lot of group work. Now, I think that this is a good idea since it mimicks the real world where in IT there is a lot of team work required. However, it was very inconsistent with the people who were in my group, and there was no choice on our part of whom to be in groups with.

The biggest frustration was not any hands-on learning. It was all writing papers about databases, networks, operating systems, etc. There wasn't any actual logging into a database, a network switch, a server, or even writing a single line of code. Fortunately, I took it upon myself for my capstone project to do some actual coding and complete a project, rather than the usual writing again.

So now, I'm stuck with $56k of student loans I'm struggling to pay back.

I definitely would NOT recommend UofPhoenix.

Re:well... (2, Informative)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040644)

I did U of Phoenix for 4 classes (see full rant above) and everything in that report is 100% true. They lie like a rug to get you in the door then charge you exorbitant amounts for sub-standard ridiculously paced classes that are next to worthless.

Re:well... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040702)

When I saw the summary on the front page, I came here specifically to mention this Frontline documentary. Kudos sir for beating me here =)

Re:well... (5, Interesting)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040608)

{
#begin rant here

I would both agree and disagree. I did the atrocious U of Phoenix for 4 classes and couldn't take it any more. It was exactly as the OP said and more. The discussions were extremely stupid and shallow and the classes either weren't particularly relevant or were below-level, but additionally the pace was absolutely bonkers. I was ASSURED by my advisor when I started that in no circumstance should I be spending more than 15 hours a week on my coursework, including all reading, discussions, and assignments and that it was easy to do with a job and a family, just like the ads say. Well what they should tell you is that you HAVE to have a family to do it because you have to have people who can do everything else in your life for you besides, eat, sleep, work, and study.

We were assigned an average of 900+ pages of reading a week over the courses I took and they expected you to read it all. Then there were the papers: the last course I took with them had 9 major papers due in 5 weeks, comprised of 5 individual and 4 group papers. And if that wasn't bad enough, being the local English nazi I was chosen by my group to be the guy to put the papers together. Normally work I actually kind of enjoy, except 2 members (out of 4) of our group could write at maybe a 5th grade level. I would open their submissions and would be presented with an opening run-on sentence followed by a colon and a list of talking points. That's it. Being that the pace was so insane and I didn't want to get a bad grade, I would end up re-writing their entire sections. Of course I would complain to the "professor" and was assured that the problem was being looked into and that the person's other papers were fine. Of course they were fine, the school had a department that you could send your papers to and they would coach you through every step of correcting your mistakes, all but doing it for you. But that doesn't help on the group papers.

Bear in mind that all of this was also after going to traditional classroom college for 2 1/2 years and getting fed up with the hoop-jumping and ball-playing and endless drama and politics. I eventually left all of it and got a job and have been very successful being self-taught. Of course it causes a problem getting through HR drones, but my take on it is that if you're so hide-bound about everyone having a piece of paper, then I don't want to work there. True, it's been tough at times but I've never gone hungry and I've had (in my oh so humble opinion) better jobs because of it.

end
}

Re:well... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040776)

Well what they should tell you is that you HAVE to have a family to do it because you have to have people who can do everything else in your life for you besides, eat, sleep, work, and study.

And this is different from a "real" school how? If you go to school full time and also work, yes, you have no time for a life. Been there, done that.

There is (4, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040180)

There is education and then there is training figure out which one you want and get it. Most everything these days is geared towards training.

Different kinds of goals (1)

gutoandreollo (1816754) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040232)

If you're paying to get a diploma, then it's going to be boring... even more if you're focusing on the skills you already have, and only need to get the diploma for, say, a work promotion.. That's going to be the same wherever you go, online or brick-and-mortar colleges.. But, if you're goal is to learn more about your field, then you're certainly paying for the wrong thing, and you should look for some training instead of learning..

Re:There is (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040252)

There is education and then there is training figure out which one you want and get it. Most everything these days is geared towards training.

The fact that the one course mentioned is titled "Web Design 1" answers that question.

College (2, Informative)

Joshuah (82679) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040184)

College isn't about learning, it's about how long you can put up with all the crap you have to do and deal with the people around you.

Re:College (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040210)

Yep, that's pretty much what your typical college dropout says. Dunno about you but I did learn quite a bit.

Re:College (1, Insightful)

BrianRoach (614397) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040398)

Says the AC to the guy with a 5 digit ID ...

A number of the really, really bright people with whom I've been privileged to work who actually did go to college will be the first to tell you they really didn't learn anything they didn't already know or wouldn't have learned on their own, but went so they'd have the piece of paper.

Some people actually do need to go to college in order to learn things, and that's fine.

Also, In a down economy that piece of paper is a handy thing to have if you don't have experience and can't get by the HR drones otherwise.

Re:College (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040434)

There is nothing particularly interesting about a 5-digit ui. I'm pretty sure lots of AC comments come from people that have been here quite a bit longer than I have.

Re:College (2, Funny)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040618)

There is nothing particularly interesting about a 5-digit ui.

But I was always told that the length of your penis was inversely proportional to the length of your uid.

Re:College (4, Insightful)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040458)

College is what you make of it. As someone said above, if you're interested in education, you'll learn. If you're interested in being trained for a job, you'll do that work and not much else.

Re:College (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040308)

I agree. While you may learn useful things along the way most of college is just learning how to be a good little cog in the bureaucracy machine.

Re:College (2, Interesting)

blai (1380673) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040460)

Dunno about you but I'm forced into learning so much interesting stuff in a short period of time that I'm failing to absorb all of it.

Test Out (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040188)

Most any respected University will let you test out of courses, though their guidelines for doing so may differ from one to another.. In my experience, you speak to your admissions person, who talks to your instructor, who lays out what they want from you in order to test out.

You still pay for some (or sometimes, all) of the class, of course; they're not just going to hand credits to the first knowledgeable person that asks politely and can demonstrate what they know, that would make far too much sense for higher academia. But at least you get your credits and don't waste your time.

Re:Test Out (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040204)

To expand a little on what I'm intending by recommending testing out of these basic courses, I'm presuming that hiding behind these prerequisites are classes that have some value to furthering your education.

Re:Test Out (1)

NoPantsJim (1149003) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040374)

You still pay for some (or sometimes, all) of the class, of course.

Not always the case. I went to Purdue for Aviation Management (to become an air traffic controller) and for some odd reason they let students take computer classes in place of some of the other Gen-Ed stuff. I was able to test out of several classes, without having to pay a dime. It depends on the school.

Re:Test Out (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040430)

Many classes, particularly those at the core of your degree program can not be tested out of.

I had to take CSC 101 and 102 (c++) in my last year at school because they would not accept my 2 semesters of C++ from my previous degree, and the 7 or so subsequent 300, 400 and 500 level classes that required me to know c++.

ehh.. (3, Insightful)

spartacus_prime (861925) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040194)

I took two undergrad classes online, Intro to Political Science (my major) and Business Writing. All course materials were posted on Blackboard, and I do not recall any classroom time. My grades in those classes were atrocious, partially because the distraction of the Internet while trying to do the coursework was too much as a 20-something year old student. Obviously, YMMV, but I don't think you can beat having an actual live instructor teach you the material (even something as dull as a writing course).

Re:ehh.. (1)

greatica (1586137) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040286)

Different strokes for different folks. I took the same two classes online (intro to pol sci and business writing) and loved them. For me it was faster to read and do homework than sit through a lecture...then go home and read the same material and do homework. A little tough to work past the distractions (age 21 at the time), but definitely doable.

A problem with colleges as a whole, and students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040214)

I'm taking online courses with Strayer University and don't like them, but am a few years in so can't go back. I have nearly 20 years of IT experience, yet had to sit through all the 100 level courses. I was forced into a 100 level English, even though I'm a published author. And every other student is a working adult or slacker wanting an easy schedule. So, even interesting classes have boring discussions as each student does just the bare minimum required of them. What could have been great discussions end up being basic sentences copied from the reading text with no intellectual thought. I've gone through most of my classes without opening the book. When test time comes, I read the question and search through the lecture notes for the answer. If not in there, then Google and Wikipedia. Being online makes it effortless to take and pass exams.

Formal university education took centuries to perfect and hone in. Online training is just too new and educators are still trying to figure out how to do it appropriately. One of my friend's classes at his school, Western Governors, now requires their webcam to be installed on your computer when taking a test, so they can verify that you are doing it yourself. We've already found ways around that system.

Your natural medium should be more natural (5, Insightful)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040230)

While it is possible simply to attend a local school in person, I would much prefer an online environment as it seems to be a more natural medium considering the content of my studies.

When you deal with people in nearly any industry it will often be far more intimate than online discussions. I would suggest taking courses in person so at least you learn skills in an environment that will apply in your future career. Think about it: most customers would rather discuss their web designs (which you'll be making) in person rather than someone at the end of a phone line, chat room, or email thread. Taking offline courses helps you in so many ways. You'll discuss ideas with classmates, learn how to debate about best practices with others, and learn to learn through many different methods.

Re:Your natural medium should be more natural (1)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040496)

Think about it: most customers would rather discuss their web designs (which you'll be making) in person rather than someone at the end of a phone line, chat room, or email thread.

Good point. Any design gig (not just web design) is equal parts people skills and technical skills. I'd venture that the former is almost more important, since the design ought to be tailored to the client if it's any good.

Welcome to College (5, Insightful)

slifox (605302) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040234)

The main problem is that I am not learning anything. I have several years' experience with Web design, yet I was not allowed to bypass Intro to Web Design 1. Similarly, there are other classes on my list that will teach me very little I don't already know, yet will cost me money all the same. Now, I do have a great desire to learn and to further myself academically, but I just don't see much value in continuing to take classes I could have aced in ninth grade. It is also difficult when fellow classmates clearly have very little intelligent input to offer

Hey, welcome to college! Going to an online school might have lowered the standards a bit, but it's all part of the same experience.

The truth is that academically most of college in just highschool part 2. For anyone who is getting a degree in a field that is already their passion & hobby (e.g. someone who has invested 10000+ hours of personal time into programming and then goes for a computer science degree), it's only in the final 1 or 2 years that the coursework is even worthwhile. The rest of the time is spent underachieving because the content is so rudimentary that you can't even stay focused. You think the colleges want you to just buy the quality courses at the end? Hell no, they want you for 2-4 years of tuition!... errr I mean "broadening experience!"

Furthermore there are always a few assholes in the class who think they know more than the professor, and take every opportunity to bicker with them about each point. You may know a lot about the current subject, but most of the professors are teaching way below their knowledge level anyways... So that's a check on "incompetent classmates" too (not even mentioning the ridiculous amounts of cheating that goes on to pass tests that have no practical value except testing your ability to remember things)

So yeah... welcome to college. If you want a real higher-learning environment, go for a masters and then a Ph.D with a quality advisor. First though, you need to get to that point... and a lot of us call it quits after a bachelors anyways ("it's good enough, and I can't bear another semester")

Academically and averaged out over the entire experience, college (bachelors level) is a waste of time. A lot of people don't even work in the field they got their degree in -- I learned hardly any practical knowledge in college courses that relates to my current job... Of course, it's not all bad -- you do learn how to learn (supposedly), and you learn rigor (lab reports, etc), and you do get a bit of exposure to other interesting fields. Furthermore, if you're not an hermit, you can have a great time with social life. Well maybe that last bit isn't quite applicable to you.

Summary: tough it out and get a degree, then forget the experience and get a well-paying job. You can be bitter all you want afterwards, but at least you'll have a good salary :) OR conversely, tough it out and do well, then get into a decent master program, and use your performance there to get into a top-quality Ph.D program

Re:Welcome to College (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040580)

i agree 100%.

and i really try not to be the "incompetent classmate" when my instructor started describing POINTERS in C++ wrong. i took it upon myself to find corrected information in the book and explained it to him in front of the class. he told me that i was wrong and that THE BOOK was wrong.

later some fellow students backed me up and we eventually went after his teaching/school records. turns out he DOES NOT have ANY degree in computer science and was only hired because the university fired a slightly more competent teacher for incompetence.

but yeah. i am FINALLY getting into the "fun" classes on my 6th year of a 4 year degree. damn those "broadening your horizons" general elective classes. :(

Re:Welcome to College (1)

Loomismeister (1589505) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040600)

Can you get into a Ph.D program for web design?

Welcome to the real world... (2, Insightful)

pookemon (909195) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040242)

I have several years' experience with Web design, yet I was not allowed to bypass Intro to Web Design 1

The same applies for real courses too. I did Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Maths at High School, and then when I went to Uni I did Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Maths - all over again. Pretty much the exact same thing as I did in High School. If I then went to do another science degree, I would get recognised prior learning. It basically comes down to the Institution has to cater for the fact that not everyone has done the subjects being taught. And in your case, you have experience - but that's not recognised (generally) as "prior learning".

Online schools are a scam (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040258)

Online schools operate on a loophole that allows them to collect a ton of money that is disproportionately applied to the students. The current administration is finally starting to close the loophole but prior to that these online schools have proliferated. They exist to collect this money; educating you is the fake front to this shady business.

DeVry, Unitek, Sequoia Institute, University of Phoenix, etc, are all scams. You learn nearly nothing, it costs a lot, there is NO JOB PLACEMENT no matter what they say and you have to bear the stigma/burden of going to an online school. We've had several online schools in California abruptly cancel all classes, fire everyone, and abandon the building(s) in question with no recourse for the students, even those about to 'graduate'.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here's my educational boilerplate info:

- Go to community college. You can take all your GE, many of your lower division and some of your upper division courses there for cheap.
- Transfer to a university. You'll only have to take the courses you couldn't take in community college, and you won't be there very long.
- At both points try to take as many tests as you can to 'test-out' of lower classes you don't need.
- Sign up for all the grants and scholarships you can find. Most of that money is never disbursed.

Yeah, it's slow, but it's affordable even for the poorest of us.

Re:Online schools are a scam (1)

Uteck (127534) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040634)

Even an Associates degree will not prevent a traditional school from forcing more classes down your throat. They did not regocnize the World History class I took as part of my AA and I had to take Western History which turned out to be the same class but without the sections on India and China. Kind of ironic that a university was so euro-centric and a community collage was more global.

It's all about accreditation, so it does not matter what school you go to as long as it is accredited.

Re:Online schools are a scam (2, Interesting)

adversus (1451933) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040662)

One can make the same argument about some brick and mortar colleges as well. I'm a graduate of a "for-profit" University, and found the coursework to be on par with friends that attended "traditional" universities. Having taken both traditional and for-profit/flex/adult classes, I feel that online universities require more effort as far as personal discipline. That said, there are a lot of diploma mills out there that DO fit your description. But don't lump all online Universities together. Last I checked, even Ivy League schools offer online programs now. I'd argue that even major Universities operate with a profit in mind (that may not be purely financial, but personal gain is personal gain).

Re:Online schools are a scam (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040730)

I have yet to see non-profit state/private schools called out *by the federal government* the same way for-profit schools have been for the fraud done U of Phoenix and the like. Those schools are an outright scam.

Re:Online schools are a scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040714)

That's the way to go.

One caveat. Check with your university before you take the community college classes to make sure those credits actually transfer.

Re:Online schools are a scam (1)

kybudman (1125597) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040740)

While I can't specifically argue with YOUR plan, it may not be for everyone. As an online instructor, course developer, and Administrator, I take great exception to your categorization of online schools in general. Urban legend personal bias, and inaccurate information do nothing for the benefit of this student. Like "brick and mortar" institutions (which have allowed me to pay nine times for their stamp of approval), online learning (which has allowed me to pay for three of their stamps) can be the most dynamic difficult, and rewarding learning you can ever get. You must choose the institution wisely, and apply yourself with the same or more determination to achieve your goals. It is actually, in my opinion, more difficult to "make the grade" in an online learning environment. But it was, for me, better education, a better and more significant learning experience than traditional learning. And, although I know it will come across as terribly biased, I would put my learning online up against any learning, period. In fact, I have. I won. Was that due to the Institution's name at the top of the Tariff Stamp? Well, perhaps a small bit. Was it because of the quality of the teaching? I believe so. Was it because of the quality of the student? Absolutely! In that, both are the same. It's not true that you get what you pay for in either. But, it is true that you get out of the learning experience what you put into it. And,that's true no matter where you learn. There are plenty of "traditional institutions of higher learning" that have been ripping students off for decades, or even centuries! Do your homework next time, and don't blame the bad grade for your work on the address!

College doesn't train you in your vocation.... (1)

Mrdzone (562353) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040264)

I doubt you'll find a school, e

Re:College doesn't train you in your vocation.... (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040454)

What Mrdzone is trying to say is "I doubt you'll find a school that teaches you how to finish what you're saying before pressing the submit button".

Personally I dont agree with that sentiment. But then I know how t

Not unusual (4, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040272)

To an extent, this is just how college is. How long have you been at it? I had a similar situation in a brick-n-mortar college; I re-took classes I'd gotten 4s and 5s from AP tests. Yeah, I was bored. But that stopped by the second year. Might be a question of whether your program is the right one.

if you already know enough to get certifications in the things you want to do, do that, and get a degree in something that would differentiate you from the hordes. I can't say more without knowing what you want to do, but as an analogy, I always recommend that CS grads get a second minor (math is usually the first) in a science, whether it be biology, chemistry, physics, or something similar. Why? Because you know another field that frequently intersects with CS, making someone much more marketable. I'm not saying that particular program is or isn't right for you, but the general principle still holds, I think.

In any event, good luck however you choose to proceed.

Fort Hays State University (3, Informative)

kstatefan40 (922281) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040284)

Take a look at the Department of Informatics at Fort Hays State University - you can take all of the courses (at both undergrad and graduate level) online to complete a degree. It is not one of those curriculum sets you can just ace - it is a challenging set of courses which encompass internetworking, web development, media studies, and information assurance. You can pick your specific concentration, but you will still get to see a little bit of everything. This is one of the best programs in the country for updated networking and web curriculum. It is both a Cisco Networking Academy and an NSA Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance. You can work toward you CCNA/CCNP/CISSP if that is the direction you'd like to take, or you can work toward an advanced degree in web development. I know these classes are quality because I have taken them - the internetworking series of classes were the most difficult classes I have ever taken. I loved the challenge and the connections you gain with classmates from around the world are invaluable. http://www.fhsu.edu/informatics/ [fhsu.edu] Thanks for posting and good luck!

Re:Fort Hays State University (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040766)

The rants seem to be centered on the online only institutions. FHSU is a real brick and mortar university (and as I am from the area originally and have an undergrad degree from I am a bit biased). Most traditional colleges/universities that entered the online world do a far better job of making the experience equivalent in rigor and content. I am a professor at a small state college in Nebraska, and we work very, very hard to maintain that integrity. I also noticed that there seems to be some issues with online schools claiming you only need to spend a very small amount of time per week for each class. I can assure you that most upper division courses at a legitimate college/university will require significant time and dedication. I generally preface my courses with a statement that an upper division (300/400) level course will take at a minimum of 9-15 hours per week over a 16 week semester and depending on your project and ability may take significantly more. There is a reason that traditionally 12-15 credit hours per semester is considered full time. We do frustrate students at times by making them learn material that they may know, however my experience has been that often while they think they are knowledgeable on a subject, reality can be far different. All that said, we will rarely teach a student everything they need to know for a specific job, however we very decidedly emphasize the formation of critical thinking and learning skills. In most cases these are far more valuable than a specific skill. Picture a student who learned a very specific skill such as web page, but did not work on how to learn or other critical thinking skills. Are the specific set of skills they learned valuable during the entire 40 plus working life of the student?

In our case being a small school, we know that we can not be everything to every student, nor do we advertise as such.

 

Those who can, do... (0, Flamebait)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040288)

Those who can't, teach. It's just how it is. I spent most of my undergrad simply chasing "that piece of paper", with a few very cool exceptions that made my days reasonable. Education is not the same as certification/diplomas. Once you grasp that, you'll be able to successfully balance the academic jewels you acquire, and the real-world experience that helps you be gainfully employed. Knowing that those are, at best, loosely correlated will be one of the great lessons you take from this experience.

Re:Those who can, do... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040540)

If your professors couldn't do as well as teach, it is your fault you went to a crappy school.

My friend felt the exact same way (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040292)

As he said, "I didn't go to college to learn how to program!" angrily because the Information Systems major included C#, Java, and web programming. He decided to go to ITT Tech, which is currently losing a lawsuit because their students are unhirable. Stick it out. You'll be missing these days when you get into the upper 300 and 400 level classes. Think of them as easy A's or GPA padding for later, much harder courses. I know how annoying it is to show up for the stupid Economics classes that you can get a B just showing up for the tests, but that'll help offset the future "Oh Crap! I didn't know I was doing that bad!" class.

CS 110 - the "a printer is a type of peripheral" class - was the class that led to the most drop outs. 403, the CCNA equivalent where we're in the lab an extra two to three hours of the class, was a nightmare but we lost no one after that.

Ras.Algethi.42 (4, Interesting)

RasAlgethi42 (1864826) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040300)

For profit educational institutions are never worth the money. EVER. You may get in cheap, you may even get out cheap. See if any employer will take your degree from Bob's University.

Slashdot 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040306)

Read every story and comment on /. for a semester and you will learn more than any college class.

You will also probably go insane.

College doesn't train you on vocation (1)

Mrdzone (562353) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040314)

I doubt you'll find a school either online or B&M that will fit your needs unelss you go into a very specialized program at a school like CalTech, CMU, or MIT.

The reason for that is college is not, by and large, about learning how to do what you want to do. It's about learning how to do what you HAVE to do, in order to do what you want to do.

Working in teams, doing BS work that you don't like (TPS reports anyone?) working through bureaucracy etc... once you demonstrate these skills any idiot can be taught web design at a basic enough level... everything beyond that is experience anyway.

JMU InfoSec online degree program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040320)

I got my MS from the James Madison University CS department, the focus of the track I took was information security. I had a great experience in this program that is delivered asynchronously over the Internet. Here is a link to more information about the program:

http://www.infosec.jmu.edu/

Naked Emperor vs. Pathfinder (2, Informative)

WitnessForTheOffense (1669778) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040336)

You have a choice to make.

In one respect, the Emperor has no clothes. College is a just a bunch of hoops to jump through to get a piece of paper that supposedly (but doesn't) mean that you have skills. What it actually means is that you spent a lot of money (and made the loan servicer and your college a lot of money) and you jumped through a bunch of hoops. The skills you could gain can be gained through checking books out from the library, camping at the bookstore, and googling everything. RTFM and JFGI (google the acronyms if you don't know what they stand for).

The upside to college is that there are some skills that are more difficult to learn on your own. Also, there are a lot of entrenched managers from older generations that won't look at your resume if you don't have that stupid piece of paper. So it can get you places and a modicum of respect, but you have to smile and say you learned a lot and deny that the emperor is buck naked.

On the other hand, you can just be self-taught. Web design can be learned through reading design blogs, reading web design books from the library, and a lot of experimentation and experience actually designing websites. Web design is a demonstrable skill that doesn't necessarily require a piece of paper on the wall. There will be some closed doors because of the lack of the piece of paper, though.

If you decide to go to college for web design, stay away from rip off online colleges that are just diploma mills. Four year colleges are expensive and unnecessary for a web design degree. Find a nice, cheap community college with a distance learning program and web design major available.

Build your resume with as much experience as possible and build an online portfolio of your designs. This will get you a lot farther than a piece of paper in many cases. A lot of clients are just looking for people who know how to design and they don't care where you picked it up. Show them what you can do.

Re:Naked Emperor vs. Pathfinder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040546)

Education is not job training. If you want job training, go to a vo-tech school or a cc,a university wouldn't be a good choice. Despite the majors, unis are about instilling more general way
s of attacking problems within a discipline, the specific details are thought to be trivial and not worth covering (things like actual design implementation vs theory of design).

Some are good (2, Informative)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040350)

I had an excellent experience with Walden University [waldenu.edu] . I was able to attend virtual lectures from distinguished professors from Duke to Carnegie-Mellon. The work was at an appropriate level, and I feel like I learned a great deal. Your mileage may vary in different areas (I got my MA in Comp Sci).

Re:Some are good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040768)

I didn't know Duke [wikipedia.org] taught at Walden College [wikipedia.org] , but I'm pretty sure he's not distinguished, unless you're studying mind-altering substances.... :)

Online is great (0)

mandelbr0t (1015855) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040352)

I went back to school, and transferred to a university with an online curriculum. I'm very happy I made the choice, and wish I'd gone that route in the first place. If you're bored, get a job. Not an IT job, just a job to make some spending money. The nice thing about correspondence is that you don't have to be poor to go to school. You can have a nice laptop, a console gaming system and a sweet Internet connection. You don't have to live in a noisy dorm. All in all it makes the enduring of all the pointless academic work much easier. Yeah, I'm pissed that I still have to finish my degree, even though I'm a bad ass hacker. The jobs available to those without degrees, in a word, suck. That's my motivation for putting up with it, even though I have to pay to challenge courses like "Introduction to Computing" or some such thing even though they gave me credits for 3 advanced courses instead. Getting your degree sucks. Getting a real job, on the other hand, is something to look forward to. Correspondence makes it that much more bearable for those of us who can't stand the trite classroom bullshit.

Re:Online is great (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040456)

If you are this angry now, wait until that online degree is laughed at by some Ivy league douche (that actually gave you a job), who knows nothing but got there exactly because she had the opportunity to go to school and never really took advantage of the learning aspect, but DOES have that piece of paper from enduring trite classroom BS. You will call her boss, and hate that too.

Why go to college? (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040354)

Most schools have a canon that must be transversed to graduate. At a good school the canon is not random. It is meant to insure that the students speak the same vocabulary, have simliar assumptions, and similar methods to the professors. One might have a familiarity with a subject, but if there is little common ground in the way one talks about a subject, then the student is wasting his or her time. Two big reasons why people drop out of college is that they are bored with the introductory canon, or get frustrated because they tink they are in high school where teachers will work put big concepts in imprecise language that the students already knows, instead of requiring the student to learn the precise language used in the field.

US high schools make a significant effort to insure that every student has the opportunity to learn the skills the college, but most colleges are not going to make an effort to hold a students hand once in college, especially if the student is paying, especially if the student is paying with student loans. After all, there is another freshmen class next year, and they have the money from last years freshman class whether they earned it or not.

The second issue is much more interesting. The students at a college provide as much value as the professors. I did not go to any kind of high level college, but I met some good people who really enhanced my experience. People who could hold a conversation, work a problem, accept that ideas different from their own might still be valid. If one does not have such people in their college life, this beyond anything else is a sign that one might be in the wrong place, or perhaps that one is not effort in the most efficient directions.

Re:Why go to college? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040494)

When I was in school, I did have health insurance from the school, but they didn't provide any other type of insurance, nor did I expect it. I'm not sure what that has to do with the conversation. I believe it's ones own job to ensure he or she has proper insurance.

Re:Why go to college? (1)

cordivae (1771322) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040534)

You know where else I met people who "enhance my experience... hold a conversation, work a problem..."? My job... I had some amazing conversations with the professors at my school. I thought that was what I was paying for, and then I got a job. Same conversations only instead of paying for it, your getting payed.

Re:Why go to college? (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040660)

Most schools have a canon that must be transversed to graduate. At a good school the canon is not random. It is meant to insure that the students speak the same vocabulary, have simliar assumptions, and similar methods to the professors. One might have a familiarity with a subject, but if there is little common ground in the way one talks about a subject, then the student is wasting his or her time. Two big reasons why people drop out of college is that they are bored with the introductory canon, or get frustrated because they tink they are in high school where teachers will work put big concepts in imprecise language that the students already knows, instead of requiring the student to learn the precise language used in the field.

I went to clown college. At my school the canon was a cannon, and you had to transverse it to without getting your floppy shoes hung up in it. You don't get bored with that sort of canon. You're too busy focusing on your landing and preparing for the segue into your next gag.

Re:Why go to college? (1)

inKubus (199753) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040694)

Once you get to the so called "upper division" they start treating you like a person again and all the people who aren't smart or hard working are gone. The first two years are somewhat of a scam. If it's Soooo easy, go to class, do the homework and pass the tests. It's only a little time, then you get to the real education.

Grass is always greener on the other side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040360)

I'm taking my degree at a normal brick and mortar university but I switched from on-campus to off-campus/online for all my units. Trust me, it's the same if it were on-campus, same idiot students with the same incompetent lecturers teaching stuff that should be prerequisite knowledge. Changing the medium doesn't change that.

Online courses at most colleges are very simple... (2, Informative)

Raineer (1002750) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040364)

They are a cash cow. Little to no resources are put into them, and students gain (at most) some busy work to do while reading the book on their own. I have taken online courses at three universities. Each one of them charged more per credit hour (~50% more) while I felt like I learned much less from the course. I'm sure there are good programs out there somewhere, but none in the institutions where I have had experience. In order to do well in online courses, you need to be a self-starter. MUCH moreso than in a typical classroom environment. My advice, if it applies to your courses, is to use the heck out of MIT's OCW program. Those lectures have gotten me through many online courses where the professors had (for the most part) not even read the current text we were assigned to use. I have donated several times to MIT because of OCW, it is fantastic.

Re:Online courses at most colleges are very simple (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040744)

You're absolutely correct. In most cases, you're better off buying a book and taking CLEP classes, as that's what an online class is (self-paced study/education), but at a much lower cost ($50-$75/CLEP test vs $95-$120/credit-hour in district).

Props for mentioning OCW. They have some amazing classes you can take for free online. I'd *pay* to audit some of those classes remotely.

SANS (1)

Smoky D. Bear (734215) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040366)

Although I prefer the classroom courses, SANS security course are very practical. They will help you both with your job and in getting a job. http://www.sans.org/vlive/ [sans.org]

Online classes are a waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040378)

For profit schools are a waste of your time and your money. If you're signed up with University of Phoenix or a similar program...get the fuck out. NOW. You've already wasted a bunch of time and money on an unaccredited program and likely haven't learned a goddamn thing for your money. Online classes I find are pretty worthless for learning. Reading is great and useful (visual learning), but it's also helpful to hear it (auditory learning), write notes (kinestetic learning), and talk it over with your prof and classmates so you get the material and can explore corner cases.

Community colleges are generally a very good value for your money. If you're already deeply within a field, don't expect to learn a lot, if anything, from the lower division courses (other than mathematics and similar). If you need that degree though, they'll help you out affordably, and then you can get into the good stuff once you transfer. Some colleges offer grants for students who are coming back after a long absence; you should look into those.

Either way though, I'd drop the for-profit school like a bad habit and reconsider the choice of online classes--at least for anything you care about and expect to use at any time in the future.

Re:Online classes are a waste of time (1)

Dravik (699631) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040550)

Many community colleges are offering online courses. So does that mean they are pretty worthless for learning or a very good value for your money?

Re:Online classes are a waste of time (2, Interesting)

Matthew Weigel (888) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040586)

That's an interesting take. The University of Phoenix is actually accredited, by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, which in turn is recognized by the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Also, although I can't speak for UoP, the school I'm attending online offers recorded lectures (for aural learning and note-taking), discussion forums where the TA is active, opportunities to ask the professor questions live during class (naturally, this requires being online when the on-site class is being held) and plenty of homework to learn by doing.

I think you're also generally giving for-profit schools short shrift for little good reason; they don't spend (or seek) money based on football teams, or endowments, but are actively trying to sell the quality of pedagogy and student attention. From what little I've seen, they pay more attention to student feedback on teachers, and teachers aren't given free reign to treat students like crap just because they've done important research. That doesn't mean they're perfect, but - like community colleges - they have a place of value and importance in society.

So far I've done the traditional undergraduate degree, community college (actually after I got my Bachelor's), online classes, and yes a ton of learning on my own. They're all opportunities to learn and challenge yourself, with varying degrees and kinds of support infrastructure to encourage and help you. But they are definitely all different, and I think they do serve different purposes and subsets of the population.

Don't count on other people to teach you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040380)

If you want to learn (at your own pace) then your best bet is to get a syllabus from a school or schools (online or offline schools) and use them as a guide for your own self-education. I have had lot's of formal in-class schooling myself, and have found that the quality of the educational experience increases the more that independent study is involved. In fact, I've learned far more after I graduated (and had time to actually learn things in depth) than when I was in school.

For something like computer security (which I'm no expert at), you may want to choose an application suite and read the manual and experiment on your own (which can be a slow way of learning, but the very best way of learning); through trial and error, sweat and tedium. Also scour the Web for tutorials, RFCs, etc (don't search too hard though, sometimes there just isn't a lot of quality, detailed information out there, but that's the same with teachers).

For the tedious, boring things that are difficult to remember, use a memory program like Mnemosyne [mnemosyne-proj.org] or Anki [ichi2.net] . Don't let anybody tell you that memorization is bullshit; it's just one part of the learning process. Of course you should understand what you memorize, but the point being; if you don't remember what you learned then there is no point in learning.

Unless you want to be a medical doctor then don't worry too much about a diploma; you've already got some professional experience, so just concentrate on learning. Diploma's are very over-rated in the computer field anyways (just ask anybody who graduated without getting a related job).

College and Vocational School are not the same... (1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040382)

Why do I keep seeing people complaining that they didn't learn any on the job skills in university? Computer Science is not just programming. If you want to learn to just program, teach yourself or go to ITT tech (a vocational school) for a programming certificate.

Try a real school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040390)

Your best bet would be to quit and go to a real school, rather than some online school. You'll have a better chance of getting a job after you graduate, too (or "graduate" as far as the online school is concerned).

Go offline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040396)

This is what you get when you study online. It's also what you get when you study offline.

BUT. There is one big difference: resources.

Sure, studying in a normal offline university the classes were not that interesting. But the classes were designed for the lower-average student. It didn't mean that the teachers/professors had nothing more interesting to teach you. It also didn't mean that the (at the time) huge Unix machine were just there to practice bash and pearl scripting.

A local school, if it's any good, has a lot more to offer outside the standard curriculum. In terms of material, knowledge and most importantly, people.

Regional accreditation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040412)

Find a regionally accredited not-for-profit school. From your description it very much sounds like you're attending a for profit institution. Assuming that is the case, of course they wont let you skip any classes: there mission is to turn a profit and the less classes you're required to take - the less money they make.

Many first and second tier public universities have entirely online programs. Another benefit to this is the degrees don't say Big State University Online, they say Big State University. I think this has a lot more weight with employers than any of the various degree mills out there.

Not that I'm against the free market, but I can assure when it comes to voting with my own wallet, I would choose a non-profit school.

Re:Regional accreditation (1)

Dravik (699631) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040564)

Ensuring that your degree does not differentiate between taking online courses and brick and mortar courses is good advice.

Learning to think (1)

joeaguy (884004) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040442)

My high school teachers said that college is not so much about learning how to do something, but learning how to think. In the technology field, the specifics are going to change constantly, but you need to know the theories and principles behind the specifics so you can adapt as the world changes. I got a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science in 98, and while not every class I took is necessarily directly useful to me now, they did expose me to a pretty wide range of different kinds of problems and concepts that give me an additional ability to design and organize well when programming that I don't always see in my peers who didn't go through a computer science program.

I think our education system in US has gotten really out of whack, although in many ways its nothing new. Education is about being a better person, not just a better worker. You should look for that sort of approach in a school, online or not, in order to get your money's worth and have something that will actually better your life, and not just be a piece of paper that shows you jumped through the right hoops.

Why did you even join up with this place that is making you take so many classes you don't need? Didn't you look at the requirements and the sample course lists, etc, before joining? There are tons of choices out there. People take months to pick a real life college usually, with several visits, looking at course catalogs, talking to students, etc. You should place the same care into an online education if it is going to be the same sort of multi-year commitment.

Stay away from for-profit degree mills (5, Insightful)

JoeBuck (7947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040444)

You know, the kind that advertise. It's a racket; they'll take your money, or financial aid money from the government, and give you a "degree". They don't want to let you skip "learning" what you already know because they want your cash. You need a legitimate institution, a community college or a state university.

I just finished my Masters online (2, Interesting)

Beowulf_Boy (239340) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040462)

I just finished my Masters degree with Walden University in "Information Systems Management".

So..my couple of cents:

What I didn't know when I signed up was that I would be in the first class through the program. A lot of the classes were very badly layed out, as in what we would be doing one week would not match up at all with what we'd done the prior weeks or would be doing in the next weeks. It was very obvious the courses had been built by a bunch of outsourced educators in possibly another country, right down to the spelling errors or idiosyncracies in the language in the project descriptions. If we had problems with any of the assignments, or were unsure of the wording, we'd bring it up with the professor and it would be fixed quickly. I think they all understood that some bugs were still being worked out, and I received a nice discount ($600 a semester) for being a guinea pig.

I do feel like I got a decent education for what I paid for and it being an online school. We never learned anything specific about any one product, ie IBM cognos, or MySQL or anything like that, but we learned in general what products like these were capable of, how to shop around for them, etc. Same sort of thing I learned in undergrad, we never got any certifications but I could easily pick up a CCNA, A+, etc because I've had all the ground work laid out for me and understand computers, networking and programing very well.

I was kept fairly busy with the assignments, in an average week I would work on 2 papers, usually 4-8 pages in length, and a group project usually around 6-8 pages, as well as group discussions, reading discussions and some classes required we keep a blog of what we were doing. We had quite a bit of group work, which was some what challenging. Its kind of funny, I had no idea what my group members looked like until in the last class we all found each other on facebook. Nothing like what I expected. I was also the only male, and am fairly young (24) while everyone else was in atleast their mid-30's it seemed.

I did have one really bad professor. I emailed him prior to the class starting and explained I would be on my honeymoon the first 2 weeks of class. I asked if he would rather send me the material early and I turn it in before I leave, or if it was ok if I did it when I got back. He said when I got back was fine. Well, I turned everything in the week I returned, only to get really bad grades for it being "late". I email him and am told "well I had to give you a bad grade for it being late, its only fair to everyone else.", and of course he stuck to his guns when I brought up the email where he said it was ok to turn everything in after I returned from vacation. He graded erratically throughout the class, never offering explanations for grades he gave. The class was badly laid out, and expected us to have a deep knowledge of Java in order to get an Apache Ant (I believe, its been a year and half) project built from the ground up, which I did not, and Java was not on the requirements for the entrance into the degree nor did I expect it, the degree was "how to be a programmers boss" not "how to be a programmer". The professor refused to help fix any of these problems, and I had to get in touch with the dean, who took care of everything for me and apologized for the problems we'd been having. After I got in touch with the dean, examples were added to the assignments involving Ant, so that instead of creating a project from a ground up, we had something to work with in order to get what we needed done.

All and all, it was a pretty good experience.

Re:I just finished my Masters online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040610)

There is one place I can check off my list anyhow.

Seriously a masters in IT and you figure you got a A+ cert in the bag if you wanted it?

Re:I just finished my Masters online (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040754)

1) Are you satisfied that you got your money's worth?

2) What is the ROI on your degree? (How many years will it take to pay back the student loans?)

Collection of Capriciousness = College Culture (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040474)

I find most Universities have zillions of strange and rather capricious policies that vary from department to department that somehow add up to the overall culture of the place.

The Uni that I went to would allow you to get up to two credits in European languages after a talk with the appropriate profs but wouldn't in Asian languages. This plus attendance policies resulted in there being a effective 1 to 1 ratio of teachers to students making for great conversational courses for only the Asian languages. The Euro language courses were much more rigid textbook courses.

Long story short the various departments varied widely in structure and thus culture. But if you have computer structured system it will probably dictate the culture for the entire online university. Thus if you see one cockroach...

If anyone can enroll... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040482)

...its not worth paying to learn anymore. Want to make money? Learn something that isn't taught in schools and can only be learned on the job.

can the credits transfer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040498)

In the USA. the first question you should ask, and get in writing, is whether the credits you earn at the school can transfer to an accredited university. Some companies run multiple schools and often the credits you pay for will transfer to another school that the company owns. I.e., it's meaningless in that case. Look for the ability to transfer to a real school. Many times the new "school" is just another office in the same building. Accreditation can also be meaningless. There are many accrediting agencies, some even on the the (US) government list, but they are privately owned.

University of Phoenix (5, Informative)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040500)

At the insistence of my employer, I enrolled in online classes at University of Phoenix about 8 years ago. I was aiming for their MBA program. At the time, the classes were 5 weeks long, with a decent amount of weekly work and plenty of reading. Everything was online, including the mandatory newsgroup-style discussions.

After about three classes, it became clear to me that I wasn't learning much at all. I was also able to get by barely doing any of the reading, and just turning in a few well-written essays and keeping my virtual attendance up. In other words, I wasn't forced to think to earn my grades. There were no tests in any of the classes I had. For all they know, I could have been paying someone to take the class for me.

The instructors were nothing more than babysitting facilitators. They'd answer a question if you had one, and they'd grade your paper, but they were not instructing. They doled out assignments from plans that other people had written. Not once did they engage in a discussion or challenge you to think.

It wasn't until my fourth class when I realized the mistake I had made. The instructor was on vacation. Yes, vacation. For the five week class, he was literally gone and unavailable for the middle three weeks with the exception of one day (in 21) when he checked his email (to tell us he was on vacation). Yet the class continued on.

When the class ended, I complained about the level of "instruction" I was being given. They ignored me for weeks, and it wasn't until I encouraged about a dozen of the other students in the same class to stand up and say something. Finally, they wrote back and told me that I would be refunded for the class if I was willing to lose the grade that I had been given. Gee, thanks. And, only those students who asked were given that choice.

That was my last class, and I'm glad. A few weeks later I spoke candidly to the HR director and he told me he was glad I stopped taking them. He told me that when people come in with degrees from University of Phoenix he just tosses them to the bottom of the pile. He recognizes them as a diploma mill, and a BA from there is less valuable than a GED.

I've spoken with others who have attended University of Phoenix online and they all have similar stories.

University of Phoenix has employees whose job is to recruit students, and they earn commission for enrolling you. Their focus appears to be to get students through financial aid so that they have no problem getting their money. Once you're enrolled, and paid for, you're just a student ID.

Sadly I paid that "school" about $6000 of my own cash before realizing any of this, but hopefully others can learn from my mistake.

Have they improved since my experience? I sure hope so.

Re:University of Phoenix (1)

leighjam (1790848) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040648)

I'm currently enrolled there along with my wife, father-in-law, a close friend, and her parents. They've gotten a LOT more responsive to students, I had a serious problem with an instructor and it was resolved within a few days. It's still all online but they have added some remote desktop to use the various tools. Are my classes boring? I've been in IT 20 years and Web development for 14 so there's not much that I don't understand. Is it as great as getting a degree from a big name school? Nope, but fitting into my schedule and the price I'm getting what I'm paying for.

Re:University of Phoenix (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040758)

So you're ok overpaying for a worthless piece of paper?

College is a scam (1)

cordivae (1771322) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040504)

I hate to say it, but I firmly believe most colleges to be a scam. I flew through my certs, a job, and have learned more in the 4 months since then I did in 4 years at college. In fact the only thing I really found valuable were the books, the practice tests, and the lady who wrote my resume. The classes were boring, slow, and geared for mechanics trying to transition to a new field rather then nerds who have lived and breathed computers since middle school. If I had to do it over again I'd gladly trade the piece of paper for 4 more years of experience and networking. "You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library."

Maybe I'm Old (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040520)

It has been quite a few years since I was in college but for my generation there was no such thing as being allowed to skip a course simply because one already knew the material. I am aware that things have changed quite a bit and perhaps some very liberal colleges allow skipping of courses for qualified students but when that is allowed accreditation becomes shaky.
                I can recall asking to be allowed to take a final exam on the first day of a course and it was forbidden. But I did have certain professors who simply allowed me to go to the library and do as I wished and they simply asked whether I wanted an A or a B for each semester. They were cheating in allowing me that privilege.
              I suspect that with your online courses you could move ahead at your own pace. If so simply cram and run the gauntlet and get the credits quickly. I suspect that it boils down to spending money for something that you dislike.
              Also, in the past collaboration between students was actually frowned upon. One did one's work privately and submitted it for grading. The social part of college distilled down to catching girls for most of us.
              If you decide to go for a conventional form of education make certain that you are not fooled. Not only must the school be accredited but the department must be fully accredited and often the department is not. That devalues your degree severely. Then make certain that the accrediting body is the exact one that accredits the big state universities in your region. Do not fall for the rotten, private college, nonsense accreditation bodies.

Best law degree I din't pay for. (4, Funny)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040554)

What online education programs have Slashdot readers been happy with and considered successful?

I got my law degree through "IANAL but..." offered through Slashdot. Next week I'm going for my economics degree.

Everything you need to learn is already available (5, Informative)

crf00 (1048098) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040574)

Everything you need to learn is already available for free on the web. You just have to search harder to find them. I'd assume you want to enroll in university computer science as you are asking this in slashdot.

For pre-U education to brush up your knowledge, there's Khan Academy [khanacademy.org] to teach you everything from primary school to even college.

For formal university level education, you can get many of them free directly from university. MIT Open Courseware [mit.edu] is one of the well known examples. You can find a list of them at Open Culture [openculture.com] . Google Code University [google.com] is a less known but great site that helps you start and search on your online education journey.

There are also video lecture collection sites that contain lecture recordings from various universities, such as Academic Earth [academicearth.org] and Video Lectures [videolectures.net] .

You may also interested in less formal technology videos such as BestTechVideos [bestechvideos.com] and Google Tech Talks [youtube.com] .

You can download a lot of ebooks from the web. Here is an example list [delicious.com] you can found on Delicious.

In case if you are only interested in web design, IMHO the best way to learn design and multimedia is go to a real college. But anyway, there are tons of resources for web design too. Delicious [delicious.com] is a must have search tool for you to get started.

I'd love to provide more links that I have but I'm short of time. But as always, Google [google.com] is your best friend!

Depends on what your needs are (1)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040588)

You can face the same issues even when attending school in person.

The educational benefit you reap will always rely on how much you want to extract from it. Motivated individuals can get competitive educations from crappy schools from their efforts on their own time. They can do this by just buying the books on their own without a college program. Others need college programs to guide their studies and their education.

The college offers a degree, its reputation, and its network. If these aren't useful to your career, then attending that college may have limited benefit.

Is it "Online" that makes College Bad? (1)

HockeyGuy (1864828) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040590)

Talk to a million people and you will get a million different answers as to how helpful college is but taking to the next level and going the route of teach yourself online courses will really make you wonder if your money is well spent.

The first thing you have to understand is there are definite reasons that someone perusing a career must attend college. If your career requires a degree such as an Architect, Lawyer or Doctor. There is no question here that these careers require a degree but remember there are different levels of education that will put you in the same place as everyone else.

You can get your law degree from the University of Delaware located next to a mall or drive 25 miles north to the University of Pennsylvania where Donald Trump and a lot of other well known lawyers attended. So what is the difference? Well President Obama attended Harvard and supposedly he did well but he did not submit his GPA or degree to get elected it was his friends he met at college that made him President.

Now you can attend college online at Major Universities you get full credit just like you attended but you must attend the college for a year or so to complete your bachelors. This is not a bad deal and when I attended college I took a few Teach Yourself courses so I could Test Out of Math classes.

But if you attend a degree mill online program believe me every Human Resources Manager knows before you walk in the door that the college you attended provided you an education that is basically useless for the real world.

On the other hand you could attend Harvard and not be the popular one and never make it to be President ... you may not even accomplish developing your own practice to be able to pay back the $200K you spent to have them hand you a piece of paper.. however you should be able to file the bankruptcy papers when you and your family are so far in debt you have lost everything.

There are a lot of choices and there are reasons to make them but you have to understand up front why you are making that decision.

Do you live in the middle of Wyoming with a family that needs you and you can't move or commute to college so Online is your only option? Then look for the best school and like I said LOTS of schools now allow you to take online courses... heck you can take courses at a few colleges to build up your credits for final graduation but you need to know which school you will graduate from and how many credits they will accept... usually the most transfer credits a school will accept is about half or 60% of the credits needed for a bachelors degree and Masters or Professional Degrees they accept less unless there is a hardship case which you have negotiated...

It takes a lot of work to get it done but it can be done... only attend accredited schools online that is the big thing. And the accreditation must come from the same organization that accredits the brick and mortar schools or your credits and degree is worth nothing....

Now with that said
You miss out on making connections when you work beside people day in and day out when you attend online so you will need to work much harder to find people you can count on. ... you can do that online anyway but... it can be difficult to really count on anyone you meet online to back you up...

And finally no matter if you are attending online or in class you really need to understand what your degree can offer you. A degree in History, Art heck even computer science today ... there are millions of qualified people looking for work.. Hell I am one of them.. or at least I am looking for better work and you have to say is it worth 4 or 6 or 8 years of your life to study something... will it put a roof over your head and food on the table? No matter what philosophical questions you may learn to answer with your degree... food in your kids mouth is always #1 and if you can make more money being a plumber or electrician then do it... and if you can make an iPhone Ap that sells 20 million copies at $3 a pop with yearly upgrades at $1 a pop DO THAT.... and you don't need a degree and you don't need people around you that will make you president ... but you will be able to live quite a nice life....

What did you expect? (1)

h7 (1855514) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040596)

Online education is for people who pay to get degrees. If learning were so easy, there would be no full time students. The fact that you expected more actually, is surprising.

at the local community college.... (2, Interesting)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040612)

I studied 2 years at my local community college, and the experience was rather interesting. I attended some classes where the discussion was heavy and student input was valued by the professor. I feel i received the most out of such classes. The curriculum for my major(Networking Technologies) was fairly basic stuff that I had seen previously. If a teacher had simply spewed a lecture or read from a presentation I wouldnt have attended class, Most of my IT courses used a CMS, so i could log in from home to get the lecture or the presentation. Basically, the teacher did not provide anything I couldn't have gotten on my own. Students participating in the discussion was a completely different animal though. It taught me a lot, because it forced different interpretations of the material.

Of course, there were classes that the professor did nothing but spew lecture. Unfortunately thats unavoidable.

I had only taken one online course in my two years at the college, and it was a complete waste of my time. The title of the course was "Interpersonal Communications." It was the only section that the college offered when i needed the course. For anyone outta the loop, interpersonal means person-to-person. I understand that times are changing and tech allows us to communicate around the world as if we are face to face. This course didn't lend itself to that though. The materials should have been taught in a classroom. In addition to that, the assignments were nothing more than "busy work." Anyone remember that from grade school? Your teacher calls in sick, so a substitute gives you work that means absolutely nothing. Yeah, that was this course.

Anyways, the OP asks about taking unnecessary courses. At the community college a program exists just for this purpose. My school called it Credit By Exam(CrEX) For select courses, a student can be given what is, essentially, the course final. If you pass the exam you're given the earned credits and exempt from the course.The test still costs money, but for my school it was about 40% of the tuition for the class, and you save about 15 weeks of invaluable time. You might look into a similar program for your school. It might not apply to all of the courses you are capable of skipping, but it just may get you out of the most basic intro courses. I was able to skip Intro to Information Systems(starts by teach the student how to power on a machine) and Intro to Windows and DOS Concepts(a course that started with basics of windows GUI and ended with writing simple batch files)

my experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33040654)

I had finished 80% of a BSCS degree while also working full time at a state university - then life got complicated and I couldn't finish the degree at that school.

I finished the degree with an on-line institution. I didn't learn a single thing with them - but I was just after the piece of paper.

First of all, the work experience on my resume is the only think making this work. If I didn't already have 5-10 work history, I doubt I'd find as many open doors as I currently do. Second of all, I realize now that it would be extremely challenging to continue on to a masters degree with any state university in the future. They simply wouldn't accept my BSCS as legitimate.

Are you smart? (0)

Mike610544 (578872) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040678)

If so you don't need eduction. Find a startup that's hiring smart people.

For Profit Colleges are terrible (4, Informative)

bigbigbison (104532) | more than 4 years ago | (#33040718)

Business Week has done a few scathing articles about for-profit colleges in the last year. One showed how they go into homeless shelters and try to get homeless people to sign up for student loan money. One college even went so far as to actually pay the homeless students for attending classes. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_19/b4177064219731.htm?chan=magazine+channel_features [businessweek.com]

Another story was about how they have gotten into the practice of buying up super small trade colleges so that they can get the accreditation. One of these for-profit schools bought an aviation school and "expanded" it into mainstream courses http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_11/b4170050344129.htm [businessweek.com]

A third story was about how these for-profit schools also target the military. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_02/b4162036095366.htm [businessweek.com]
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