I chose online education because I work full-time. I chose Capella because I thought the curriculum was indicative of a solid educational experience. In hindsight, the former choice was correct--the latter was not.
To its credit Capella understands that its programs and courses need modification. Over the past year I have been at the school I have seen a number of changes made and most of them appear to have been for the better; however, my experience with the university has been extremely underwhelming. No, I should say it has been downright rotten. Note that these comments only apply to the online campus, as I've never visited the Minnesota campus.
First off, Capella's website is inferior. As a student, I cannot even view my account (i.e. charges and credits against my account) or pay for my classes if they have been pre-registered. The only point at which you can actually pay for something on the site is when you are registering for classes. If you're a responsible student, however, and you pre-registered your classes for the year according to your degree completion plan, you have to handle payments yourself. This is a minor point, though, so I won't dwell here. This is not the only problem with the site. The product the university uses for its "online classroom" is very disappointing. It is called, WebCT, and it's a Java application with extremely high latency and quirkiness. It frequently locks up when certain applets are launched and is very sensitive to the browser you are using (IE7 and FireFox 2 support were only recently added). These technical issues are only the beginning.
The real problem I have with Capella is the Information Technology courses. Most of them are just plain terrible. It almost seems that they have someone who has no idea what he or she is talking about writing some of the assignments and discussion questions. In my Java class the instructor actually had to create three alternate assignments because the assignments specified in the curriculum were so poorly written even the instructor couldn't figure out what was required. Not only this, but the workload in this same class was outright oppressive. This has been a recurring theme at Capella--tons of busy work and very little theory or real instruction. On the other hand, some classes are way too easy. The ASP.NET class I had was ridiculously easy. Most of the assignments held your hand the whole way and it seemed like you were just getting points for following the directions. Very little effort or understanding was needed outside of the final. The assignments themselves took very little time or effort.
Overall, the courses at Capella simply fail on a basic level to educate the students. Instead, the students are expected to educate themselves and then prove it through mounds of homework. To some extent I don't really care (just give me the bloody diploma). But on the other hand, for what they charge me per class, I feel like I'm getting ripped off. Most of the other students I interact with more or less echo these sentiments (some more ardently than even I).
What pains me is that this seems to be par for the course and not the exception. My experience at Western International University (now Axia College) was largely the same, but their online classroom was much easier to use (NNTP newsgroups, actually). That was all general education work, though, so it was a mixture of pointless rubbish and mildly interesting subject matter. I have colleagues that have attended University of Phoenix online and their feedback has been similar to mine. I did some looking into Kaplan and found more dittos there. I think this is just the state of online education, unfortunately. In fact, this just might be the state of education period, barring maybe the top tier schools.I've prattled on enough by now. In conclusion, don't enroll at Capella expecting to be taught anything. Instead, enroll expecting to work with a frustrating online environment, poorly designed classes, inferior instructors, and loads of busy work. If you are willing to put up with this for a few years to get a degree from a university no one has ever heard of, then by all means, give them a call.