Posts published in August, 2010

Despite Government Investigations And Regulations For-Profit Colleges Keep Growing

For-profit colleges are attracting students in ever-growing numbers, according to an annual Education Department report. The report includes data on the number of students who enrolled in various types of postsecondary institutions throughout 2008-09. The statistics show that for-profit colleges enrolled a total of 3.2 million students, 11.8% of the nearly 27.4 million students who studied at all institutions that year. The figure for for-profit enrollments reflected an increase of more than 20% over 2007-08. Source:ECS

Provocative Book On Transforming Higher Education

  Robert Zemsky , professor at the University of Pennsylvania has a new book that is well worth reading. It is a fine overview of the current problems and possibilites for improving higher education- Making Reform Work: The Case For Transforming American Higher Education. Zemsky stresses faculty and administrators must participate and perceive reform as in their self interest. has an interview with Zemsky.

Robert Zemsky’s Making Reform Work is a practical narrative of ideas that begins by describing who is saying what about American higher education-who’s angry, who’s disappointed, and why. Most of the pleas for changing American colleges and universities that originate outside the academy are lamentations on a small number of too often repeated themes. The critique from within the academy focuses on issues principally involving money and the power of the market to change colleges and universities. Sandwiched between these perspectives is a public that still has faith in an enterprise that it really doesn’t understand.

How To Increase Community College Completion Without Focusing On Current Students

If community colleges were to find all the formerly enrolled students whose academic records qualify them for an associate degree and retroactively award them the credential, then the number of associate degrees awarded in the United States would increase by at least 12%. This projection by the Institute for Higher Education Policy is one reason why it is working with the Lumina Foundation for Education to roll out Project Win-Win. The initiative will help 35 community colleges and four-year institutions in six states track down these students and those who were near completion. These students would then become AA graduates, and boost national  completion totals.

Other states like New Mexico are using this strategy for four year degree students, and offering a clear path to complete just a few missing credits.

Fighting Back Against Students Who Cheat In College

Fighting University Cheating: Reconsider the Moral Crusade ; Guest blogger Angelita Williams

Very recently, the New York Times ran a series of op-ed pieces discussing plagiarism in institutions of higher learning. The articles’ author, Stanley Fish, suggested constructing the problem of cheating as an issue that is more about violating professional codes of conduct, rather than universal or philosophical moral laws. After his first article, Plagiarism is Not a Big Moral Deal, Fish wrote a follow-up piece in response to the legions of comments he received which accused him of being lax on the issue of plagiarism.

Quite the contrary, Fish’s argument, I believe, proffers a much more pragmatic approach to plagiarism that could stem the rising tide of cheating among students. What Fish is basically saying is that if we frame plagiarism as defeating the whole point of higher education–learning–then students may actually think twice about cheating.

Fish’s argument may be a better way of appealing to Generation Y simply because it becomes more and more difficult to see plagiarism as an absolutist, black-and-white moral issue when the Internet traffics in appropriating others’ work constantly.

Case in point–a recently published book by essayist David Shields entitled “Reality Hunger: A Manifesto” explains how art in the twenty-first century is becoming increasingly more of a communal effort that leverages the hyper-connectedness of the Internet. In an article in the Huffington Post, Shields described what his intentions were with his book: “I want to make manifest what artists have done from the beginning of time–feed off one another’s work and, in so doing, remake it, refashion it, fashion something new.” Upon the book’s publication, many were scandalized by the idea of thinking about plagiarism with such a cavalier attitude.

But Shields does note, in the same article, “The citation of sources belongs to the realms of journalism and scholarship…” Shields’ caveat loops back to Fish’s entire point–that plagiarism in the academy cannot be discussed in terms of right or wrong since academic writing and standards aren’t even concerned with these bigger philosophical questions in the first place. Academics are purely concerned with the acquisition of knowledge. In this realm, plagiarism isn’t wrong; it simply undoes the academy’s aim.

If professors and administrators were to explain to students that plagiarism and cheating are unacceptable within institutions of higher education because it impedes the institution’s, and therefore the student’s,  goals, then students will perhaps be able to understand that plagiarism isn’t just bad, it’s actually bad for them. For a generation that supposedly focuses more on “Me”, this line of argumentation may be more pragmatic and effective.


This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online college courses.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: angelita.williams7

ACT Scores Highlight Lack Of College Preparation For Minority Students

Far more students are taking the ACT, but Hispanic and black students were less likely to reach score levels that are predictive of college success. Only 11% of Hispanic students and 4% of black students met the ACT’s benchmarks for college readiness in all four subject areas, compared with 30% of white students and 39% of Asian students. The gaps were even more stark on individual subjects. Hispanic and black students also were less likely than their white or Asian counterparts to have received the high school preparation that ACT research says equips them to thrive in college.

Obama Would Not Count As A College Graduate Using Leading International Comparison

  The  prior  blog expands on the validity issues that cause concern about the OECD comparisons of college completion for the major countries in the world. The decline of USA has several causes, but one is that US statistics do not count college transfers as college completers.  President Obama transferred from Occidental College in L os Angeles to Columbia where he graduated. He would not count as a college graduate in the OECD comparative tables. Moreover, different countries submitted different cohort spans to OECD. So some countries were advantaged by the cohort time that they used.

  All of this is very complex, and Clifford Adelman featured in the prior blog recommends that national authorities in OECD shape and agree on the types of data that can be rolled into valid and reliable indicators that cross national borders.  Analysts need to be very careful in how they discuss the alleged drop of USA from first to 11th in the past decade in various measures of college completion. We have major problems with completion, but so do other countries. Our completion rate for associates and  two year technical degrees is the major cause of low international rankings.

International Comparisons Of College Completion Have Major Validity Problems

  I attended the ECS meeting and heard Cliff Adelman speak and  am convinced that he has uncovered real problems  concerning the  OECD claim that the USA has declined from first to 11th in the rate of international completion of college. See his publication, The Spaces Between Numbers  published by IHEP at www. ihep.orgWEB. Adelman stresses the US is still first or second  in the completion of bachelors degrees. But OECD does not count transfers in USA 4 year  completion rate  One out of 5 USA bachelors degree holders  transfred between one or more colleges.Here are some brief quotes from his publication on this and other issues..

“Before OECD put up, online, another version of this table, those who bemoan our position in the higher education world chose a different column, on which to focus: one that includes associate’s degrees, where, indeed, we do not perform well.  The reason is simple:  other OECD countries that award what are called ‘short-cycle’ degrees (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, and United Kingdom) have institutions and programs devoted solely to producing degrees and no other, whereas our community colleges have taken on a plethora of missions and student populations who are not degree candidates, and are under greater pressure to transfer students to four-year sector with or without associate’s degrees.  And when you mix bad performance for associate’s degrees with top-of-the-line performance for bachelor’s degrees, you purposefully distort what happens in U.S. higher education and why.

“The second piece of negative propaganda used by critics of our higher education system is based on another table in Education at a Glance 2008 that purports to display graduation rates (technically, “cohort survival” rates) for those seeking a bachelor’s (or equivalent) degree.  There are 24 OECD countries compared in this table, where the U.S. graduation rate is indicated at 56 percent within six years of entry to higher education, the second lowest among the 24 countries.  What OECD does not tell the reader is that the U.S. graduation rate in the only rate among the 24 to be calculated only if students graduated at the same institution in which they began.  All the other countries present system graduation rates.”

The Truth About Online Education, Not What You Think

Guest blogger: Radek M. Gadek

In today’s academic system, online degrees have become a blessing for many students who choose to complete their college degree online. You may have heard of working moms jumping on the Internet to get their education, or military and law enforcement personnel that are able to finally finish college, but increasingly more and more young college students start college online – and yes, many are right out of high school.

However, the scrutiny behind online degrees continues to plaque many students who go to, went to, or are just on a verge of going to an online college or university. The relentless norms of society pressure the online education system into this “gray area” where it isn’t really wrong that you went to college online, but it isn’t good either.

First, let’s get some things straight:

  1. Online degrees are no better or worse than brick-and-mortar degrees are.
  2. Online degrees aren’t easier or harder – you can’t just group them that way.
  3. For the most part, it takes a self-reliant person to complete an online degree.
  4. Your online degree is the same as the on-campus degree – it doesn’t say on the diploma that you have an online degree from an online school.
  5. Like in any pragmatic scenario, not all degrees can be developed into a distance education model – at least not yet – think of medicine, for example.

Social Barriers and Social Interaction

The social barriers that were set for incoming, current and graduating online students rose higher and higher as the concept of distance education hit the main stream culture. The negative perceptions can often stop even the most ambitious learner from utilizing this mode of education. However, things are changing for the better now.

Life is hard enough as it is, so don’t fret. Majority of the employers, and I mean like an enormously large majority, will not even question or know how you obtained your degree. What they can request is a copy of your diploma, and in some cases, transcripts with your GPA. You won’t have to worry about that since your diploma and transcript will look identical to the one campus grads obtain.

As always, the school name can make or break chances of employment. This is specifically true when applying for high-caliber or specialty positions. If you’re planning on a “rewarding” career – in all sense of the word – then it’s recommend that you pick schools that have prominence and/or prominence in the field of study.

Fun Tip: Let’s say that you would like to get a Business degree that can help you obtain a rewarding career, but you want to do it online, and at a great school. US News and World Report comes out with a list of “Best Colleges” annually. These are brick & mortar colleges, but when you browse around and find a great school you like, go to the school’s website and search for academic degrees online. Another great way to do that is to use Google search by typing the following: “School Name Online” (without quotes).

When it comes to online learning it’s not necessarily easier or harder than on campus. It’s different, and depending on the individual it can be a walk in the park or a virtual pit of misery – for most people it is usually something in between. A recommended path is to try some online courses at your local community college to see how well they suit you before you embark on a full-fledged online regiment.

The lack of social interaction is a negative factor, but it sure is helpful when you don’t have the many distractions of campus life. Relationships with people, especially your peers and professors, are vital in college and can equate to better chances of being accepted into graduate school. Things like academic advice and letters of recommendation come in very handy when looking for your next academic challenge or employment opportunities. At this time, it is much harder to achieve the type of bond with your peers and professors when studying online.

The Importance of Accreditation

One of the biggest reasons online degrees seem to get a bad wrap is because of accreditation issues. In the not-so-distant past some online schools participated in unethical practices when it came to accreditation. They claimed to be properly accredited and even told students that their accreditation was the best, when in fact, they had no valid accreditation altogether. Hence, the term: “Diploma Mill” was born – you’ve probably heard that being thrown around once or twice. The media got a whiff of that and ran with it, creating a giant storm that held a dark cloud over the concept of distance learning.

The reality is that there are many great colleges and universities, even schools like Stanford University, that offer degree programs online. These great schools have regional accreditation – the education standard that all students should start with. There is also national accreditation, but I strongly recommend going to the regionally accredited institution. I’ll tell you why in the next section.

One of the biggest hurdles for individuals who would like to continue their college education is making sure that their credits transfer or their diploma will be recognized by other academic institutions. This scenario applies to those who:

  • completed some college courses and want to transfer to another college or university without having to repeat these courses
  • completed an Associate’s degree and would like to obtain a Bachelor’s
  • completed a Bachelor’s degree program and are applying to grad school (Master’s and PhD are common grad school levels)

It’s virtually impossible to accomplish that when the school is not properly accredited at all. However, even when it is properly accredited, it is only so far national accreditation will take you. The differences between regional and national accreditation are enormous and you should consider the following scenarios when applying to any degree program (online or on-campus):

  • No accreditation equals wasted time and money, no opportunity to transfer credit, and definitely zero percent chance of getting into a half decent school with either national or regional accreditation. You can also be demoted or even fired from your job if your employer was to find out your degree is worthless.
  • If you completed some college courses at a regionally accredited college or university you should have no problem transferring acceptable credits to the new school. This new school can be regionally or nationally accredited.
  • If you completed some college courses at a nationally accredited college or university, you may have no problems transferring your credits to nationally accredited schools, but it is extremely hard to transfer any credits to a regionally accredited institution, like Stanford.
  • If you completed your entire degree – Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or a Master’s – at a nationally accredited school you should have no problem going to the next level at a nationally accredited college or university. However, if you want apply to a school with regional accreditation, you may have difficulties having your degree considered.

Remember, this applies to online and campus based education.

Where You Go To College Matters, But How You Do It Is Truly Not That Important

We all know that American society has roots in only the best values. It is understandable that schools like Stanford University, Cornell University, and Northeastern University, beam authority in the academic circles. It’s also common to see higher salaries offered by employers nationwide for grads from high-caliber universities like these.

It should be no surprise that academic institutions look where you went to school, too. You should expect to go to a great school, no matter if it’s online or not. Aim high and focus on getting to your goals.

Fun fact: Stanford, Northeastern, and Cornell – among other spectacular schools – offer various online degree programs. You may not know that, because of over saturation and hype some colleges & universities are a part of.

Over Saturation Of For-Profit Education

If you’re like most people, you watch TV, listen to the radio, and browse the web. If you’ve ever searched for a great college online you found many websites and advertisements that gave only a one sided view of “the best college for you.” Schools like University of Phoenix, ITT Tech, Devry University, and Grand Canyon University are omnipresent. They are on the tube, the radio, and within your search results.

Fun Fact: did you know that many of the top for-profit schools, like the ones mentioned above, use over 25% of revenue on advertising, but only about 10% on paying the educators (reference College Inc.). Doesn’t it seem weird that more money is spent in obtaining the students than educating them?

For-profit education is detrimental when considering further academia, and as chance would have it, it is also viewed disapprovingly by majority of the public. Try to avoid going to for-profit colleges and universities for your online learning needs – even if they are regionally accredited. The only exception would apply when you don’t have any other option.

For starters, your local community colleges, State universities, and even private schools can offer great instate tuition for your online degree. If you are ambitious and are seeking a specific program from a great school, chances are it’s available through online education. Get past the minutia and dig deeper, check out blog posts and forum threads, go directly to the school’s website to search for online course offerings, and even pick up the phone or visit the campus to get more info about online education.

What You Can Do To Get Started Right

You are the only person that knows if online education is right for you, but to make things easier consider the following:

  1. Regionally accredited college or university is a must!
  2. When seeking specialized degree programs, like Business or Engineering, seek the best programmatic accreditation
  3. When possible, avoid going to a for-profit college or university. Remember for-profit university doesn’t mean private university.
  4. Now, more than ever, your college grades matter. Naturally, they’ll be scrutinized when applying for further schooling, but did you know that 21st century employers check transcripts, too?
  5. Start by looking for best schools and programs first, then move down the list if you’re having trouble getting in – don’t go the other way around. Aim high the first time.
  6. Some schools may not be very well known, but they may offer an amazing (well ranked) degree program. There’s no shame in pursuing what you like.
  7. Your local higher learning institutions may offer great tuition. Think of in-state universities. For example, if you live in California, then the University of California and the California State University systems may be of great value to you. Many state universities offer online programs.
  8. Keep relationships with peers and professors, even if it is by email.
  9. When in doubt seek counsel, especially from professors and people who went through what you are going through.

About The Guest Author

My name is Radek M. Gadek and I am a successful college graduate (at least I would like to think so). I attended college both on campus and online and obtained a BS in Business and a Master’s in Criminal Justice.

Unwittingly, I ended up going to a for-profit university to finish my Bachelor’s degree, and despite being well-prepared by the academic institution, I have received scrutiny from friends and family. What’s even worse, when I was applying to graduate school, I was told by each of the admission’s representatives about the negative impacts of my baccalaureate education. A true life’s little lesson learned, but way after the fact.

I ended up pursuing my goal of obtaining graduate education in Criminal Justice, and with my online undergraduate degree, despite the odds, I was able to get into top Criminal Justice and Criminology schools in the nation. How did I do it? I followed most of the points mentioned above, and of course, I had a little bit of luck on my side.

Presently, I write on online degree issues. I also host a blog that focuses on Criminal Justice degree programs, colleges, and careers. I’m open for comments and questions at

How To Implement Common Core Standards For College Readiness.

  Now that 48 states have approved the common core standards for k-12 in English and math states are moving towards difficult implementation issues. One big issue is who will fund all the curriculum development , instructional materials , and staff development that is needed. There are other issues as well.

To realize the full potential of the CCSS and ensure the new standards actually reach the classroom level, states will need to think through critical issues including (but not limited to): how to integrate the new standards into the broader college- and career-ready agenda; how to leverage budgets to support implementation; and how to best communicate about the new standards. Achieve has developed a series of implementation papers for states and districts to consider as they move from adoption to implementation of the CCSS. Over time, Achieve will update the guide as necessary, to cover new topics and dig deeper into existing topics. Download On the Road to Implementation here.

Note Taking And Other Study Skills Online Do Not Seem To Be Effective

A study of undergraduate note-taking and studying online has found that students have taken lousy study skills from the pre-Internet era and simply moved them online. The study was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology. A summary of the findings in Science Daily states that students “mindlessly over-copy long passages verbatim, take incomplete or linear notes, build lengthy outlines that make it difficult to connect related information, and rely on memory drills like re-reading text or recopying notes.” This information is from Carnegie Foundation.

I talked with a research university professor who walked around classes and saw what students were doing when their lap tops were open during  a lecture. Two thirds were doing something else than taking class notes., or anything related to the class. Maybe professors should not pass out their power points before classes begin , or use other teaching techniques.