originally posted on the posterous site. january 29, 2011 at 01:01:16am
in may of 2009, i started a digital design program with art institute of pittsburgh. i finished the program in november of 2010. it was an intensive program, one that taught me the principles of design and how to use the adobe suite of products. but like so many other things, even though the program was done, it didn’t seem like I had accomplished anything because i hadn’t gotten the magical “piece of paper”. it finally arrived yesterday! so for all intents and purposes, i am a designer now. some of the work i produced for that program is in the student portfolio section of this blog.
…begin online education soapbox rant…
it took me about 18 months to complete the program, which was another successful attempt at online education. there are naysayers of online education and the “predatory practices” of schools, promising high-paying jobs and degree acceptance, and in some instances there is some truth in that. but i think that the same thing could be said to traditional brick and mortar schools everywhere.
why would i say that? well think about it… it starts with everyone saying to you from a young age that education is important, and that is not a lie. education is important. but education isn’t accessible for everyone, due to any number of root causes: cost, test/grade requirements, student-drive and timing. online education (as a whole, looking at the “industry”) when accredited by one of the accreditation boards, and coupled with an informed student, work well and fill the "root cause void". these institutions have met the same programmatic requirements for education as the brick and mortar schools, problems arise when students aren’t informed and don’t make proper decisions.
the program is going to be intensive – you are expected to complete sixteen weeks of study in a third to half the time, the time is cut but amount of work isn’t. you are required to do all of the work, do a lot of reading and do a fair amount of self instruction and it does take dedication, self-control and determination. i am not sure that all students who enroll in online education understand that, and they get in fixated with the possibility of bigger paychecks. this amount of unanticiapted work is probably what contributes most to the high dropout rates.
now that being said, the high dropout rate -- as high as 57%1 -- isn’t helping employers understand the value of an accredited diploma from an online university. i know this first hand. i sat in an interview with a president of a company for a marketing position and he said to me “university of phoenix huh? never heard of it…did you get your diploma from the back of rolling stone?”. this person was phd educated from the university of maryland and was a professor there. my reply was, “they are the largest for profit university in the u.s. and interestingly enough, the catalyst for the university of maryland founding the university of maryland, university college – the online education arm of your alma mater and employer – and since you are done reviewing my credentials, we’re done with this interview…i appreciate your time.” and i left. the recruiter called me, i told her what happened – I didn’t hold back about what a jerk this guy was. she called me back two days later saying that they wanted to talk further and offer me the job. i politely declined.
that being said, no one is doing anyone any favors to sure up the reputation of online education or educators. investors in online education see profits and stock prices; recruiters (probably) see salaries tied to numbers (and see commissions), ill-informed students see a quick way to a better life while failing to see the required amount of work (‘the forest for the trees’) and dropout. and because of all that some employers “just don’t’ get it” and don't interview or hire online education graduates (even though they may be older, have expereince and the required degrees). then there is the worst set of offenders...those of us who don’t speak up in defense of our hard work, the quality of instructors and education, or our school like those students who graduated from traditional schools. in all honesty it is a lot easier to defend a school with a winning basketball team then it is it to defend a school based on the amount of the work i did… in my opinion, online education is still a fledgling industry, and it’s going to take time for a full understanding (and informed students) and acceptance of the online education and the diploma.
anyway, that all being written, i now have my digital design diploma in hand, and feel like it’s official and that “i r a designer”.
goal two in the career path accomplished, lol. (for goal three i have even gone back to school, online education – art institute of pittsburgh again – for an additional bachelors in web design and interactive arts…check back in another year for that sheepskin!).
1 dropout rate at 16 for-profit colleges was 57%. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-30/for-profit-college-dropout-rate-of-57-is-likened-to-casino-odds-by-harkin.html