12

I'm currently 2/3 of the way through a degree program, and am continually shocked and dismayed for what my school is passing off as higher learning.

  • The books, which are almost all made in house, are full of typos and basic factual errors.

  • Professors are late to chats and routinely do not respond to emails, requiring calls to advising and involving people in the chain above them to get basic information such as new class times, or asking that a paper I turned in on time be graded.

  • Poor IT infrastructure leading to bad grades (submitted assignments disappearing after the cut-off time, making it appear as if I never submitted anything, leading to me getting a zero grade), recorded lectures having no audio, and e-readers returning license errors

  • An automated testing system which is full of factual errors and ambiguous language leading to it being impossible to answer some questions by anything other than luck. Gods help you trying to determine the exact wording they want in the fill-in-the-blank answers. Humans are not involved in this system, it's all automated string matching.

  • Generally nonchallenging and inappropriate for level material, including a 202-level math course covering grade school word problems, and a computer security engineering course covering basic computer literacy.

I've reported all of these issues as far up the chain as I know how to do, yet nothing is getting done. Given the quantity of money I'm paying these clowns, I'd imagine that I have some kind of rights.

Is there anything I can do other than grin, deal with it, and come out with a degree I'm not going to be proud to have? At this point, I just want my money back and the opportunity to go to a school where I'm actually learning things, rather than repeating pre-HS.

11
  • 17
    Why have you stayed this long? Get out!
    – JeffE
    May 9, 2016 at 20:21
  • 5
    From what you describe, I don't think you want to transfer credits. Do you really believe that the introductory courses at your current school have prepared you for upper-division courses at a stronger school?
    – JeffE
    May 9, 2016 at 20:26
  • 2
    The introductory courses that I've taken so far are basic "gen ed" requirements - the degree-specific classes won't start for a few more months. Redoing those at another institution will just be a pointless cash/time sink.
    – Mikey T.K.
    May 9, 2016 at 20:28
  • 10
    You have "only taken gen ed classes", yet you are "2/3 of the way through your degree" and you are complaining about courses like "math 202" and "computer security engineering" which don't sound like they should be gen ed classes in an IT degree. Something definitely doesn't compute here...
    – alephzero
    May 9, 2016 at 21:56
  • 2
    Grad students will never have to deal with poor quality material? Jeez people, if I hadn't said what the actual degree was, you'd have never known.
    – Mikey T.K.
    May 10, 2016 at 18:33

3 Answers 3

17

You mentioned that the college is accredited. You might want to contact the accrediting body (it's usually regional, like SACS and NEACS) and alert them to what's going on here. I'm very sorry to hear you're having such a poor experience with this distance learning program. It's possible that it's vastly inferior to the school's on-site program, although given the overall bad impression I'm getting of the institution from your question, maybe not. But yes, it's time to complain to an outside agency.

As for how to salvage your education, I don't think transferring credits is a bad idea. Yes, your learning suffered, but I'm guessing you're not made of money and you want to be able to get through this degree without mortgaging a child to do it. You need to transfer into a legitimate program as soon as you can, without waiting for the complaint process to resolve. But I would still get in touch with the accrediting body. This is the sort of thing they need to know about.

2
  • 4
    I agree, but for OP's sake, maybe report them AFTER the transfer so there's no reason to complicate the situation? :-)
    – corsiKa
    May 10, 2016 at 0:52
  • 1
    Could be a smart play. I'm assuming that the accrediting body would be so slow to respond/investigate that it wouldn't matter, but some maintain that discretion is the better part of valor, so...
    – A Kat
    May 10, 2016 at 20:07
11

If you're dissatisfied, the easiest approach is to vote with your feet and wallet and leave. Your best bet would be to transfer to a proper, accredited program ASAP. Don't throw good time after bad time.

For an accredited program, it's hard to believe that all of their instruction material is made in-house. This is not the norm. From an accreditation standpoint, make sure the accrediting body is legit.

Alternatively, as your program is accredited, you can raise concerns with the accrediting body. This approach is both costly, time-consuming, and not for the faint of heart. Whatever the outcome, you will likely be on unfriendly terms with the administration for the duration of your stay.

That said, you've said that so far, you've only taken gen ed classes. At many universities, these general classes are often not indicative of the quality of instruction you'll receive in upper classes. Keep that in mind.

2
  • 2
    Your point At many universities, these general classes are often not indicative of the quality of instruction you'll receive in upper classes is excellent. Lowly grad students and over-worked visiting assistant professors often teach these. Also, those with expertise often dread teaching low level classes.
    – haff
    May 9, 2016 at 23:47
  • 1
    From an accreditation standpoint, make sure the accrediting body is legit. - Yes, anyone can accredit, and this may not mean anything.
    – Kimball
    May 10, 2016 at 0:10
2

I agree with the answers that @Akat and @user389823 have posted. However, certain circumstances will prevent a student from leaving (financial aid, inability to transfer credits, family reasons, etc.). Leaving would probably be the best option, but in the case that you cannot leave, here is what I would suggest:

Be brutally honest on course evaluations

My department takes these pretty seriously and readily makes instructor changes based on them. Occasionally you will have a tenured, full professor who isn't going anywhere no matter what you say, but your response on course evals can make a difference - probably not for you at this point, but an honest evaluation could improve the situation for others that come after you.

Do something to set yourself apart from your classmates

If something is factually wrong in a course manual, respectfully challenge it during lectures, in assignments, etc. As an instructor, I really like it when students do this, and these students are stuck in my mind after doing so. I give good references to good students; I give great references to students willing to respectfully (this is vitally important) challenge my lectures/views and still perform well in the class.

If there is a better way to tackle a problem than what your instructor recommended, then try it. Try the problem both ways, compare the results, and explain your findings. If your prof is making you create charts in Excel, create something publication quality in R with ggplot2 or in Python with matplotlib. Instead of creating documents and presentations with Word and Powerpoint, create some awesome looking alternatives with LaTeX (these are just simple examples). You will probably learn new skills in the process which will be valuable in the future.

Don't let yourself sink down to the level of the program.

Consider the possibility that you may need to give your instructors more slack

For example, I can sympathize with an instructor who is not from the US that makes typos, as long as the concepts are still clear. If I was teaching in another language, I would make mistakes as well. Additionally, don't fault a philosophy professor, for example, for not having the greatest technical/computing skills. When a person is skilled technically (which it sounds like you are), this is difficult not to do, but don't let your expertise get in the way of seeing another person's expertise.

That said, if criticism really is warranted, then don't hold back.


Like others have said, getting out is probably the best option, but in case you can't, try to make the best of a bad situation.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .