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Compare Nonprofit, For-Profit Online Degree Programs

While there’s still a stigma against for-profits, the quality of education varies widely within the sector, experts say.

To some students, a for-profit online degree program seems like a risky option.

“I’ve seen a lot of reports for a lot of years about how for-profit schools have pretty much based their incomes on the ability for students to get federal financial aid,” says 30-year-old Matt Warner, a cybersecurity and information assurance master’s student at the nonprofit, online Western Governors University.

Though he’s personally hesitant about for-profits, he suggests prospective students focus more on factors such as cost and the degrees offered.

For California resident Carlos Ramirez, enrolling in an online doctoral program in health administration at the for-profit University of Phoenix was a no-brainer. Ramirez previously earned his bachelor’s and master’s at the school and was satisfied with its flexibility and student support.

Experts say in online education, a school’s classification as a for-profit versus nonprofit tells prospective online students little about overall quality.


“I think it’s less about the sector and more on how attentive the institution is to meeting the needs of students, to understanding best practices, to preparing their faculty for this robust learning experience,” says Karen Pedersen, chief knowledge officer for the Online Learning Consortium, an organization aiming to improve online higher education.

For-profit institutions have faced criticism in recent years for questionable recruitment practices, low graduation rates and high student debt. Though employers today are becoming more receptive to accepting candidates with for-profit, online degrees, there’s still a stigma around them, experts say.

[Discover how employers view for-profit online bachelor’s degrees.]

“It’s a distinction that has gotten a lot of press over the last many years, and I’m not sure that it’s warranted,” says Betty Vandenbosch, president of the for-profit Kaplan University, which delivers many degrees online.

When for-profit online degree programs started becoming more prevalent around 1999, they accepted almost anybody who applied, including those who weren’t sufficiently prepared for college, says Kathleen Ives, OLC’s CEO and executive director, who has served as faculty for both for-profits and nonprofits. That, she says, contributed to low graduation rates and high debt for those who dropped out.

That initial focus primarily on corporate profits “has tainted much of the for-profit sector. And not fairly, because the for-profit institutions are just as diverse as the nonprofit institutions,” says David Schejbal, dean of continuing education, outreach and e-learning at the University of Wisconsin—Extension, which coordinates continuing education and online programs across 26 statewide campuses.

Read full article here.

posted in: Blogging, California, Diversity, EmployerNews, Florida, Georgia, Graduation, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, News, North Carolina, Personal, Wisconsin

College Attendance Policies May Accommodate Job Hunting Students

The attendance policy at Georgia Southern University is so strict that students can’t even miss the first session of a class for their own wedding without being forced to drop the course. The only excused absences the school extends for the first day of class are for serious illness, military order, or loss of an immediate family member—and even then, students need to cough up a doctor’s note, the military summons, or copy of an obituary.

Another commitment that the school also won’t usually excuse is a job interview. As students are intensifying their hunts for jobs or internships this spring, this invites a question that is larger than just one school’s attendance policy. If one of the main reasons students attend colleges and universities is to strategically position themselves for gainful employment, does it make sense for them to forgo interviews to attend class?

Frederick Ringwald, professor of physics at California State University—Fresno, thinks forcing students to make that choice is unreasonable. The syllabus for Ringwald’s spring 2012 course, Light and Modern Physics, states that job interviews are sufficient grounds for exemptions from even the midterm exams.

“I put the provision for job interviews onto my syllabus, because one of the main benefits of taking my classes is that students can learn things that enable them to get jobs. It’s only fair not to penalize students if they have job interviews,” he says.

[Read three tips for students to ace job fairs.]

In Ringwald’s 13 years of teaching, no student has ever asked for an excused absence for a job interview. But that hasn’t been the experience of Robert Dean, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Auburn University in Alabama.

Dean states on his syllabi that job interviews can constitute excused absences and students can make up homework, exams, or quizzes from classes missed for interviews. One course that Dean has taught, Solid State Sensors, tends to be made up of seniors and graduate students, so one or two students miss each class for interviews.

Allison Hoyt, a fifth-year senior majoring in mining engineering at Virginia Tech, estimates that she has had about 40 job interviews as a student at Virginia Tech. She typically tries to schedule interviews on holiday breaks or in between classes, so only about a quarter of the phone and in-person interviews have occurred during class.

Most of Hoyt’s mining professors announced at the beginning of the semester that they wanted students to have internship experience, so they would tolerate absences for interviews. But when she traveled with some classmates to Illinois for on-site interviews, some of her peers were told by their professor—who isn’t in the mining department—that their interviews weren’t legitimate grounds for making up missed exams.

[Learn how to avoid negative thoughts when job hunting.]

Hoyt advises students to notify professors at the beginning of the semester that their job hunt may require that they miss class. “Professors appreciate knowing this, especially since some classes have students ranging from freshmen to seniors—where freshmen don’t typically interview, but seniors are looking for permanent employment,” she says.

Students should also remind the professor about their previous correspondence a few days before the interview, Hoyt advises. “E-mailing again will be a friendly reminder and inform them of an exact day you will be missing,” she says. “This way, you can be notified of what you will be missing while not in class.”

posted in: EmployerNews, Georgia, News

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