Posted on Mar 15, 2015
CPT All Source Intelligence
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I earned a degree online through North Georgia University (formerly NGCSU). It wasn't a joke; it took a ton of commitment and a lot of time, but it was an awesome experience and I walked away with a lot more than just a piece of paper (Plus, they price right around TA-levels, so best value I've found).

I've talked to some Soldiers, NCOs and Officers who've gone through online programs and complained: professors weren't engaged, their classmates came across as idiots, or that the classes just weren't challenging (if you got through it, you'd have a degree but it was about the piece of paper).

What's your experience?
What are the best online programs you've found or heard about?
The ones you'd personally stay away from?
Edited 6 y ago
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Responses: 170
LCDR Rabbah Rona Matlow
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I personally don't have any experience with online programs, but I've heard that places like U of Phoenix and other "For Profit" institutions should be avoided.

The best bet, imho, for on line education, is a program that is an extension of a major university. These days, almost every major school has an online program. If they are known for good education in brick and mortar, the online program should be pretty good. However, note that the requisite qualifications for online programs tend to be a little more lax in some cases than in their brick and mortar schools.
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CPT Barbara Smith
CPT Barbara Smith
6 y
I have attended and taught at a variety of colleges and universities. The best university that I attended was the University of Phoenix. However, I am thankful that my bachelors and masters degrees were obtained from face-to-face universities. As an online nurse educator, I found that both f2f and online schools seek out the University of Phoenix graduates. I believe it is because of the curriculum and its founder.
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LCDR Rabbah Rona Matlow
LCDR Rabbah Rona Matlow
6 y
MCPO Brian Legg EMCM, thanks for the clarification...
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LCDR John Sahlin
LCDR John Sahlin
6 y
I have taught for both private for profit (UoPhoenix) and private not for profit universities (Coleman University, The George Washington University).

Which program is the "best" is largely dependent on what you seek.

I personally agree with Rabbi Matlow that you should generally avoid "for profit" universities. The U.S. Department of Education is fairly clear on this point - for profit school have half the completion rate of not for profit programs, but DOUBLE the default rate on student loans. This clearly points to a failure in for profit programs to produce graduates who get jobs that allow them to get better jobs (allowing them to pay back their loans).

I have plenty of friends who are military or veterans who got their degrees from UoPX. It was fine for them because they did not need the degree to open doors for them - they already had an established network. That said, those who did not have a pre-built network were not likely to build one from UoPX (despite their very smooth advertising campaigns).

I have reviewed hundreds of candidates in my civilian career. I generally put degrees in three categories: 1) Ivy/Service Academies/Top Schools in Field, 2) any accredited not for profit school, and finally 3) the for profit schools.

Be cautious of the "accredited" claim. It does not really mean much about the quality of the education. It just means that the school has met the minimum standards for qualiy and process discipline. UoPX, All the Bridgepoint schools such as Ashford, and a host of other for proft schools are regionally accredited. Yes regional accreditation is generally more academic in nature than national accreditation (generally more appropriate for trade schools), but it still does not guarantee a quality education.

For example, I would question the rigor of a science program that teaches cration science. I would also be concered about a program taught mostly by "professional adjuncts" the academic equivalent of carpetbaggers often teaching at two or three schools simultaneously simply to make ends meet.

Do your research. Find a program that works for you and don't worry about which is "best".

Georgia Tech has a 100% online MS In Computer Science program that costs a total of $7,000! Of course that's IF you can get in, and IF you can keep up, and IF you have the self discipline to focus on the hard work necessary to complete this challenging program.

I am a full time technology executive and I teach in my spare time. I do it because I love it not because I need the money.

Just decide what works for you and make it work. Know what you are getting for your money (or the taxpayers' money). But please please PLEASE do not go to a ridiculous program for no other reason than to burn through you GI Bill. What you get out of the school is mostly dependent on what you put into it.

Sorry for the rant.
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MAJ Raul Rovira
MAJ Raul Rovira
4 y
Yes, no U of Phoenix. Money vampires.
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MAJ Raul Rovira
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CPT Sarah Starr, nice post and very relevant.

I found the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) to be a very good on-line college. I obtained a Master of Distance Education. I liked the 14 week semester. I had a great experience. During PCS I had two Incomplete and the school worked with me so I could complete them.

Currently I am 3 class away from a Master of Science in Administration through Central Michigan University. Another good school that transferred 15 credits (5 classes) from ILE into the graduate program. So far no complains and I am very grateful for the ILE credits which save 40 weeks of school and $7,500 in tuition.

One school I would stay away from is University of Phoenix. It is a for profit and they do not care if you graduate with 40K in student loans. Even our employer panel members at ACAP advice us to stay away. In graduate school at UMUC we evaluated tens of schools and Phoenix always came out as one to stay away from. I am certain that some students are happy with the school. I respect your decision to attend the school.

A tip for on-line students, if there are multiple on-line session for a particular class, go on line and check the website http://www.ratemyprofessors.com. Do some research on the professor and try to get a hold of all syllabus so you can select the class session you are comfortable with.
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MAJ Raul Rovira
MAJ Raul Rovira
6 y
SGT Steven Vanhulle, I first commend you for committing your personal time towards an educational goal. Keep up the fire!

On your question, I may recommend that you reach out to your academic advisor as they know all the ins and out for that particular school. They can also guide you on the actions needed so you can receive your degree over the mail. Last I recall we just had to apply for graduation. Now, CW2 Nina Nina likely has some good info as a recent graduate.

An associate degree is a degree just a different level when compared with a BA/BS, Masters or Doctoral.

Hopefully your installation has an annual graduation recognition ceremony so you can be recognized.
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SGT Military Police
SGT (Join to see)
6 y
MAJ Raul Rovira , Thank you for the encouragement sir. It's definitely been a struggle to find the right balance, but I'm glad I've started to find a good system that works for me. I understand that it is a degree, I just have always been unsure about whether it really meant anything for recognition purposes. If all works according to plan, when I ETS I'll have the degree completed, and can apply my GI Bill towards a BA or higher.

In regards to my installation sir, I don't know if they do on a wide scale, but perhaps specific units do. I've seen a number of Soldiers recognized for their volunteer work (which is my next goal, I want to assist the ARC), but not for college progression. I think it's unfortunate, because it can act as motivation for those Soldiers who don't think it's realistically possible to achieve on active duty. Anyway thanks for the advice sir, and I'll be sure to look into those possible avenues.
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CPT All Source Intelligence
CPT (Join to see)
6 y
SGT (Join to see), with regard to formal graduation - don't know if they still do, but UMUC use to do an annual commencement ceremony for anyone who wanted to attend (even if UMUC wasn't the school you graduated from). Granted, it was held in Heidelberg, so that goes to show it's been a few minutes, but it's worth asking about. Think it took place in the May timeframe.. It was a really nice event - definitely a good way to recognize/commemorate your achievement.
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MAJ Raul Rovira
MAJ Raul Rovira
4 y
Somehow I ended up back at this post. I did graduated in June 2016 from Central Michigan for my second Master degree.

I found out that both UMUC and CMU have a very good credit transfer program for ILE graduates. 5 classes (15 credits) worth towards a masters degree
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LT Aton Operations Section Chief
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i received my degree through embry-riddle worldwide. Just because a degree program is online or a mix of online and in-house, doesn't make it any less challenging. Military personnel earned credits that college kids will never experience.
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PO3 Bob Walsh
PO3 Bob Walsh
6 y
I received an Associate Degree from The University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Accounts and Finance in 1968. I started College long before on line programs were available. The GI Bill gave me the opportunity to go to College, and taking advantage of the GI Bill was undoubtedly the best decision I ever made. From what I hear of on line
courses I think I would rather go to class. My classmates became good friends, we would meet before class and at coffee break and this was like a club that meet 3 nights a week. When we graduated we had completed all the Business courses required for a Bachelor Degree given by the same Professors, who taught in the day and evening schools for example, Dr. Klein was teaching Securities and Commodity Markets when the Market crashed in 1929. When I graduated I also had 5 Children, and the demands of family, work, and travel, stopped me from continuing my education. I agree with the suggestion it is probably better to stick with the major university's on line course. I don't know anyone who regrets putting the time and effort into education. Absorb all the knowledge you can, no one can take it away from you.
A free source of on line education is; Knowledge at Wharton.upenn.edu this website is not restricted to alumni or students and is informative and interesting. Currently Leadership is featured.
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