With online education, the University of Phoenix has put The future is at our fingertips...
Written: Aug 6, 2005 (Updated Dec 27, 2006)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:no commute, easy to fit in the schedule
Cons:when the power goes out it is a problem, computer crashes!
The Bottom Line: If you are a self starter, independent learner and a busy working adult that likes working online then U o P is for you!
I have been reading a lot of reviews here about University of Phoenix. Usually I do not read other people's opinions about something prior to writing my own. Usually I write my own first so it will not be influenced by others. However, this morning I stumbled upon a University of Phoenix review that was incredibly negative and it set my brain to whirling.
I went back to the teaching world about three and a half years ago. I had been out of the arena for just long enough to feel like I did not know what was going on with NCLB. I really felt like I needed to do more and learn more. I wanted to go back to college and gain a higher degree than my Bachelors and my certifications. So, I went looking for a college that would work.
I checked out the area community colleges. I wanted it to be close to home so that commute time would be minimal. I wanted to be able to get financial aid, although I knew I could get some reimbursement from work it was not going to cover the whole degree.
So I searched. Everything I found required a lot of travel and a lot of time away from home. I would be spending a lot more time in my car than in the classrooms! That was obvious. This meant I would be away from my three kids way too much. Someone suggested I look for an online college.
I decided to try that route. Well, I found a couple that offered a masters in administration. I read about all of them, and I applied at the University of Phoenix.
To apply I had to send in paperwork showing I was working, and I needed to send in my paperwork showing my earlier degrees. This was pretty much the same as any other college. I was so excited to find out that I qualified for stafford loans, and that teachers have 108,000.00 available to them for education loans. I had never used any loans for my education and here I was finding out that I had some availalbe to me. I was very excited. The application for a loan was a little complicated, it took some time for me to do. However, it was all done online. I had an answer within two weeks about whether or not my loans were approved and my class schedule was sent to me.
I spent some time with my counselor Becky on the phone, honing my schedule and getting it organized to suit the life schedule I currently had. I needed to do an Action Research Project which is fairly indepth and took three courses. I also needed to take three sections of an internship. Now the internship needed to be the required amount of hours for my state. So I needed to call my own department of education to determine how the internship needed to be. I was told I needed 180 hours. University of Phoenix requires 240 for the degree, so this was going to work out fine.
I needed to fit my internship into my own school schedule. My principal agreed to be my mentor. She was told she would be given a stipend of 400.00 for agreeing. At the end of my internship she was sent a check. She needed to send in a lot of paperwork before mentoring me to prove her qualifications.
I spoke with my department of education and was told that University of Phoenix was indeed an acceptable degree, that the Masters program would lead to my principal certification. It was not going to be a problem once I finish the program for me to get certified as a NH principal. I was all set. I decided to go for it.
If you are trying to decide if you should go for an online masters program I recommend highly that you check with your state to ensure that this program will certify you. Some states have not accepted the University of Phoenix online yet. Do all of your homework before you begin the program!
Online learning offers an asynchronous environment. Meaning that I can sign onto my classes anytime I want during the day and answer the questions or participate in class discussions. When an assignment is due, it is usually due by midnight on the due date, and it goes by the professor's time. If the professor is in EST, then your homework, or assignment is due in EST time. This took me a little bit of getting used to. This is especially challenging when you have a learning team with people all over the globe. Most professors attempt to set up teams with people in the same time zone. This is not always going to happen. For a couple of my classes I had a team member who was working for the Department of Defense schools, and he was in South Korea. This was a challenge when we had joint papers due.
The first course was really a course to teach how to be an online student. It taught students how to do boolean searches, how to use the online U o P library, how to work in a learning team, and how to use APA writing style. Basically it got my feet wet and let me determine if online learning was for me. The first course is often waived and free of charge. There are often coupons for it.
All of my text books for my program have been available online. I could easily download them and read them on my computer, or print them out on my printer. They have been adapted to U o P courses.
My classes are all offered in Outlook Express. This is very easy to set up. You must have high speed internet access to get to it. Most of my classes have required powerpoint presentations. You will want Microsoft Office Xp if you decide to go to the University of Phoenix. You will also want to have the student teacher edition. I have found this to be very valuable. There is also a program that you can purchase that will set you up with an APA template. The university does not offer it, but you can find it and download it online. I have not used it. I prefered to learn APA myself and not depend on an electronic device.
Like all colleges and schools I have found good teachers and bad teachers. I can say this about every school I have ever attended. Some of the teachers I have encountered online have been incredible. They have offered the opportunity for great discussions and conversations in my classes.
I have enjoyed being in classes with people all over the world. I have learned a great deal about education all over the world. Many of the people I am with are the same ones over and over again. Although now and then a few new "faces" pop up.
I have found that all of the course material has been relevent and right on with other people I know who were completing their masters in education at other institutions. The course work for some of my classes has been tremendous. For others it has been a breeze. This again, is very much like the real college world.
I have had a number of really tough teachers. These have been my harder classes. I took statistics online and found that to be extremely difficult. I do not recommend taking math online for anyone. It is a tremendous struggle. Throughout my courses I have created Powerpoint Presentations, I have made videos and mailed them to my classmates. I have written millions of papers related to current education topics. I have studied many legal issues. I have put hours and hours and hours into my degree. All from home, and all of the hours I have put in have been strictly related to my degree. There have been no commuting hours to contend with.
My counselors have been extremely nice. They call me because I do not usually call them. I get emails from them regularly. I have two counselors. One is an academic counselor and one is a financial aid counselor. They have been extremely helpful.
The tech support at U o P is out of this world. When my computer does anything I do not understand whether it is related to the college or not they have helped me to fix it. I have found them to be the best tech support I have ever dealt with for my computer troubles.
Online education at the University of Phoenix is NOT for everyone. It is for the working adult. It was set up to help working adults find time to advance their education.
If I were a first time college student with no family responsibilities and no full time job online education would not be my choice. First time college students need to leave home, become independent, attend school with peers, deal with the life of a college student. Make choices about studying or going to a party and all of that that goes along with college.
University of Phoenix has taken all of the extra stuff that college has, and watered it down to strictly learning the subjects. For me that is perfect. There are no silly arguments with people in classes. Since none of us are looking at each other, we are open and honest and able to discuss the topics and nothing else. No one feels inhibited by the other people in the class.
Everyone HAS to participate. People who may be shy about speaking have no choice in online classes. We are able to use our current employment as learning environments.
Nearly every class I have participated in has required a learning team. The learning team can be very frustrating...just like life. It is no different online than in life. There is always someone who slacks off and does not do his or her part. This is incredibly frustrating, but again, we meet with this in life. I have noticed that a lot of times the people who are the greatest slackers often disappear never to be seen again in my classes. This makes me feel pretty good about the University policies for attendance and participation.
Some of my professors have been excellent like I said before. A couple of them have been pretty lacking. I believe this also is typical of everyday life.
Most of the classes have the same structure. When I first began a week started on Thursday and ended on Wednesday, but that has since changed and a week starts on Tuesday and ends of Monday now. It has been hard for me to adjust my study schedule to meet that.
I have noticed changes since I first began. The requirements for participation have become more and more stringent. Some of my professors have been requiring daily papers. This gets stressful.
The courses all have a syllabus which offers the university policies and the teachers policies. There is an online resource page for each course where a student must go to get text books, required readings, and assignments that are required by the university of phoenix. Some of the assignments are quite involved. Others are fairly simple.
Six week courses are three credit courses. Four week courses are two credit courses and three week courses are 1 credit. My internship course was in three three week parts.
Last summer I was teaching summer school, and I began a course online. One of the women in my learning team put in her biography (required at the beginning of every class) and I noticed that she lived in the same city as me. We found out we were both teaching in the same summer school! We met and became fast friends. It was amazing. We have been together online ever since. That has been incredibly helpful.
My classes never have more than 10 students in them. I like that. Onground classes offen have more than 30. Ten in a class is an ideal number. One of my classes only had 5 people in it. It was wonderful. We had great discussions.
The requirements for my classes have all been related to the courses. Some have been redundant from one class to the next, but that is typical in all classes. I have enjoyed the classes that are the most organized over the ones that are not so organized.
Online learning requires people who love to be on the computer. It requires people who are incredibly independent and like to be self learners. It is great for the homeschooling family. It is great for the person who is willing to go the extra mile and get all they can from the experience. It is perfect for someone who is shy, because it brings you out! There is no fear of being shunned. Everyone in every class is nice! I have not met any mean people. I have met people with incredible experience and read and heard their stories. I feel like I have completely changed.
The graduation from the program can be done in two ways. A friend of mine recently graduated, she was able to attend the graduation at the Michigan campus. I have not finished my courses yet, I could go through the ceremony this summer and receive my diploma later, but I chose to wait and receive my diploma and have a family ceremony.
As I read the incredibly negative comments about University of Phoenix I am saddened. I am saddened because people who have not done this will not be able to realize that an online education is very much like Epinions! Epinions is a great place to earn an education about the world and people. An online education is as well. If I attend a college here in my city, I will sit in classes with people I already know, get the same information we have discussed in the teachers room. I really do not gain in new knowledge. Online offers me the chance to broaden my horizons. I am proud of my work at the University of Phoenix. I know I have put a lot of work into it. I have done college onground and online and I find them to be equal. However, online is easier because it does away with the commute. I can go to class in my pajamas. I can sit at my computer with my coffee and read and write and answer questions. I can use my computer to organize all of my thoughts and ideas. I can use my keyboard, and I type faster than I write. My strength in computers is put to great use for me. I am an incredible multi-tasker. I can be working on an assignment in my head while I am doing the breakfast dishes and then finish the dishes and go to the computer and finish an assignment. Getting my master's degree has minimally interupted my family life, which is number one important to me. I have been able to fit it into MY schedule. I can take my laptop with me to sit in the theater where my kids are attending a theater class, be there for them and be working at the same time. This has been a tremendous benefit.
Online learning is not for everyone! It is for the WORKING ADULT. It is an alternative to the traditional education method. It works for some of us, and remember, an education is not about what you get out of it, it is about what you put into it!
If you take all of the tools in each class and use them, you will get a valuable education. Some people need to be spoon fed information, and the independent nature of online learning is not for them. But for me, it works. I have always been a self learner, preferring to read and learn on my own to having someone tell me what to do. I enjoy not having to turn in my final papers until midnight. I like the extra time, I also like that I can turn them in a day or two early if I need to.
Now, U o P also has a policy for people with disabilities, they accept 504 accomodations as needed by some students. Online learning is perfect for students with disabilities. One of my professors was wheelchair bound. Her knowledge was great but her ability to teach onground was difficult. Teaching online was wonderful for her.
The expectations are spelled out online. If your paper is late, it is late. Most professors have no exceptions to the rule. I like that. I know what I need to do, what the parameters are and I meet them.
My greatest problems have occured when my internet provider goes down, or when the power goes out, or when my computer crashed. I also needed to get new glasses because I needed a reflective coating on my lenses. I got a terrible eye strain from online class work.
I consider online education to be in its toddlerhood. I truly believe in the future it will grow and build to an even higher demand. The opportunity for online classes is growing at tremendous rates. It is not going to go away, it is not a trend it is real and it is here to stay. There have been more and more changes to the online learning environment made as I attended school at the University of Phoenix.
We have a generation of video gamers and computer wiz kids coming through. These kids will find value in online education. The way they learn is changing. Computers have changed the way our children learn.
Our schools and colleges are filled with policies about bullys and violence and dress code. These issues are virtually non existent in an online class. Online learning is learning.
Education is not what we get out of it, it is what we put into it. It is the work YOU do to learn.
Since advancing my degree online, I have secured an administrative position, and my friend that I met online has as well. Another friend of mine received a nice salary increase for gaining a masters. U o P does work!
Update: December 27, 2006...I have just been notified that I have advanced to a higher administrative position with a nice salary increase...I think that moving up the ladder is the reason we all want to advance our degrees...and I have done just that. THANK YOU UOP!
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