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Date: Jun 23 2005
Major: Business - Management and Administration (This Major's Salary over time)
What you are looking for will dictate whether this is the proper school setting for you. I have experience with both campus and online formats. With that understood, we will delve into University of Phoenix (UoP) and my experiences.

In reality, correspondence education has existed since the late 19th century. Some resistance has actually existed to this form of education since its conception. However, with the advent of the Internet, a new form of delivery was invented, not a new form of education.

What appears to be one of the primary problems is the propensity of society to be resistance to this delivery method. As technology advances, so does the concept of how information is delivered. Technology can accomplish this through written lectures (more archaic), streaming video or digitally recorded lectures from teaching professionals. Schools can actually compound this problem via poor teachers or poorly prepared materials. If the delivery method is not fluid, the learning experience will be less than fulfilling. Successful delivery translates into experience in education, both with adults and younger students. Colleges that have little or no experience with administering successful information transfer between the student and the professor in a classroom setting will likely have little or no success doing so in a virtual environment.

UoP actually was a brink and mortar campus prior to their online excursion. UoP appears to be taking the brunt of the verbal bashing because they are essentially the pioneers of this delivery format. While UoP has made many mistakes, they have steadily improved. It is also important to contemplate the numerous other schools that have benefited by watching UoP make mistakes and avoid those mistakes by makes adjustments before they encounter the same pitfalls. For all of the business and marketing majors, this concept should sound very familiar.

It is likely that UoP's two biggest mistakes revolve around being a public company and the aggressive sales tactics. First, let us focus on the public company portion of the two-headed monster. Since UoP is public, profits are critical to the shareholders. Shareholders do not care about how you get the money; they simply want to see returns.

Second, let us review the aggressive sales tactics problem. This directly relates to profits. Because shareholders want money, advisors are instructed to bring students in and sell them on the service the school is providing. While the school does have guidelines, they are by no means stringent. People who have the resources to attend the school can likely meet these requirements. In addition, the push to get students has opened the door to serious issues about the caliber of the students entering the school. Like it or not UoP, the caliber of students who leave your school is direct reflection on the type of school you are. These problems have thus far not been addressed, so they continue to compound. Like any public business, when problems are not addressed, revenues decline and shareholders get upset. It is likely that only when shareholders demand a change will UoP address these critical issues.

The student typically provides technology in most of these schools. UoP does have an excellent online library system that makes it conducive to sound research principles. The online environment such as news boards and lecture delivery has improved significantly, but additions are necessary to help improve the learning environment.

The instructors are not like a typical academic college. Most of these instructors are "life experience" teachers with perhaps a couple years of teaching experience, often all online. This does not make these teachers bad, but it does veer away from what most people expect from a teacher considering a true generation of virtual learners in still about 10 years away. The good and bad teacher ratio from my experience was not far off from that of my campus experience.

UoP is clearly not alone, as many of you know. Notre Dame offers an MBA online, UMASS offers degrees online, Stanford offer's CEU's online, Harvard launched an exploratory committee, and UCLA, University of Wisconsin, several colleges in Florida also offer degrees online. ALL of these colleges are brick and mortar colleges and would anyone question at MBA from Notre Dame, online or not? These schools take the adult learner seriously and realize that the customer base is transforming from the typical 18 - 25 year old to include the working adult. While these schools have a reputation, it also helps validate the delivery method that is the Internet.

UoP was rewarding from the standpoint that I improved my critical thinking capacity as well as my ability to "listen" to others and learn from other people's experiences. The education provided allowed me to build a foundation in which I can improve upon over my future endeavors.

Currently I am working on my MBA from Regis University in Denver, CO. This is a well-established Jesuit college founded in 1877. They are a brink and mortar Division II school and for the sports nuts, they are the Regis Rangers. Here is the surprise, they have a limited following via Internet learning. I will add though, the teachers are experienced professors and they have digitally recorded lectures, video discussions with working professionals, and streaming video. These tools help enhance and assist in facilitating the classroom learning. Regis has a more stringent admissions process and your academic advisor is an actual professor, not service representatives. The experience at Regis has been most rewarding, but challenging at the same time.

The target date to start a doctorate is the fall of 2007. I will do this with the University of Maryland. While some of these classes can be taken from a distance, I am sad to say a legitimate doctorate cannot be completed online. If you are looking for a pure online doctorate, University of Maryland is not your school. As well, Maryland requires essay's and GMAT scores. Residencies and constant communication lines must be kept open. While UoP does offer doctorial programs online and they do require residencies, I would caution anyone who seriously considers this route. UoP does not even require written essays as a part of the admissions process. This is a serious issue and degrades the value of the degree because once again, while you may be smart, the people to your left and to your right may just be on cruise control and the buffoonery will cost you credibility in your degree. To be taken seriously in the academic world, a doctorate must come from an established learning institution and a pure "click" college cannot offer this.

In conclusion, online schools such as UoP, Capella, and Walden are not bad choices for undergraduate degrees. These choices may even be suitable for graduate level work depending on your concentration and future goals. None of these schools is adequate for Ph.D. level work. Finally, any school that is purely a "click" college such as Jones University is a bad choice and you likely will have very little if any credibility by other educators or employers.

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