Archive for the ‘distance education’ Category

New College Blogs and Websites

August 19, 2009

A New Blog Designed to Assist College Students

Two brothers with more than 50 combined years of experience in higher education and counseling have just launched a new blog called College Success Tips.  Given the experience of the authors, we are confident that the blog will be worth frequent visits.

Two New Websites for Counselors and Educators and Parents

During our many years in education, we have been asked countless different questions about college admission.  The most often asked question, by far, has been which colleges an individual student might be admitted by.  In second place are questions about getting into individual colleges, such as “What will I need to do to get into Harvard?”.

Now there is a brand new website…so new that it is not fully completed…to help students, families, and counselors find answers to these questions.

On the College Admission  Profiles site, students can find profiles of incoming freshmen classes at hundreds of colleges and universities and see where they might fit.

Please note that the site is not yet complete so it only has a few hundred college profiles thus far, but many more are coming soon.

Another new site, Free College Info Search, offers students a chance to match themselves to online and traditional schools and colleges.


More College Admissions News and Advice

May 6, 2009

Guest Blog

Today’s Guest Blogger is Todd Johnson, the owner of College Admissions Partners, an organization which helps students and families through the complete college admissions and financial aid process. Todd regularly blogs on items of interest to students seeking to find the college best meeting their needs.  Todd offers a free 1/2 hour consultation to discuss student needs for college admissions counseling.  His contact information is available on his website.

College Rankings

Americans love to rank things. What’s the best car, the best doctor, the best hospital? But the real question is “best for whom”. Everyone has their own idea of what is best based on their own interests and judgment so finding the best of anything is going to be a matter of one person’s judgment.

This is true with colleges as well. We can identify which colleges have the highest SAT averages or the highest alumni giving rate but do those factors make those colleges best for everyone?  But people still ask what the best colleges are.

Although there are many groups who provide college rankings, and more rankings come out each year, the best known college ranking service is of course U.S. News. For many years the “Best College” issue of U.S News has been their best selling issue. And every year the order of the colleges ranked change with some colleges improving their rankings and others losing ground. However, in real life, the quality of a college rarely changes in a single year or even in a single decade.  The reason the rankings of the “Best Colleges” changes every year is because the magazine is constantly changing the criteria by which they determine the “best” college.

We can easily illustrate the problems with this type of constantly changing college ranking. In 1998 Caltech was ranked as the 9th best National University. In 1999, however, Caltech claimed the top spot as the best National University. Then in 2000, they dropped to 4th best. Did the quality of the education at Caltech change from 1998 to 1999 to 2000?  The only thing that changed was the methodology used by US News that made per student spending a more important element in the rankings in 1999. Because Caltech has a high level of per student spending it jumped in the ratings. In 2000, U.S. News decreased the importance of per student spending in their rankings and Caltech fell slightly.

Reed College is an even more extreme example of the problem with college rankings. Reed is a very strong college and consistently one of the highest producers of future PhD students on a per capita basis. When the U.S. News ranking first came out in 1983, Reed was among the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the country. In 1995 Reed decided that it would no longer provide information to U.S. News for the ranking issue. U.S. News, in an attempt to punish Reed for not cooperating, assumed that all of the data that was not provided would be the worst possible and as a result, Reed was dropped in the rankings down to the 4th tier of colleges, the lowest tier available.

Now you’re thinking that I am telling you to never look at college rankings but that is not the case. The information provided by U.S. News and the other magazines which rank colleges can be helpful as a starting point in the college search process. It can tell you what percentage of students get accepted, the retention rate or number of students that return after their freshman year and other helpful statistics. Just don’t worry about the rankings because the best college for you may not be number one or even number 10.

Colleges Looking for Students

Every year at this time the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) invites colleges and universities still admitting students for fall to make that fact known.  For the list, visit  the NACAC website.  You may be surprised that several excellent colleges and universities have yet to fill their incoming classes.

Online Degree Programs

If you are interested in online courses or an online degree, please visit our recently updated online education website.

Waiting Lists; New Rules

This year, numerous colleges offered places to students on their waiting lists even before the date on which deposits were due.  This is another of many indications that some excellent colleges are less selective now than they were in brighter economic times.

A University Closes and we Rejoice – Good New Web Pages

February 3, 2009

Good Bye and Good Riddance

Warren National University, formerly known as Kennedy Western University, is about to close.   Normally, a university closing is cause for regret, but not this time.  After some bad press, richly deserved in our opinion, the University changed its name and location.  But it could never attain regional accreditation and, in the end, could not survive the vastly improved educational licensing laws in Wyoming (long a refuge for educational scoundrels).  The University’s website directs students to Preston University, a State licensed institution in Alabama which is not accredited by a U.S. Department of Education approved agency.

Nobody should be surprised or saddened by the loss of Warren National University.  In fact, we recognized it for what it was years ago, and refused to list it on our online college or online degree websites. 

Good New Educational Web Pages

We are very excited about the two pages we have recently added to College Scholarships, Online Degree Programs, and Colleges: one is a college savings calculator; the other is the very best GPA calculator we’ve ever seen.  You can enter grades for up to 50 courses and determine your grade point average  almost instantly.  Try it.

New Financial Aid Tools Available Online

December 17, 2008

New Financial Aid Tools Available Online

Below is a message I received today about the new financial aid tools now available to students, parents, and counselors.

Dear friends in education
As you help students prepare to fill out the 2009-10 FAFSA on the Web, you might find these tools useful:
The FAFSA on the Web Worksheet is now online in PDF at – students may use it to jot down their answers before going online (on Jan. 1 or later) to fill in the online application.
The FAFSA on the Web demo site is also ready. The site helps you increase your own understanding of FAFSA on the Web and show it to students and parents before they apply.  At the site, you can complete a sample FAFSA, make corrections, or check the status of the application.  However, when you choose “submit,” the information is not actually submitted. The site is purely a learning tool.  To access the demo site, go to  The user name is eddemo, and the password is fafsatest.  The site displays both the English and Spanish versions of FAFSA on the Web.
Also, the final PDF of the 2009-10 Counselors and Mentors Handbook has been posted to our counselors web site at (the link to the handbook is on the home page, under the heading “Counselor Resources”).
Hope these items will be helpful to you!
Cindy Forbes Cameron
Awareness & Outreach
Federal Student Aid
U.S. Dept of Education

for counselors and mentors:
for students:
for everyone: 1-800-4-FED-AID

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The Big Brain:  A New Internet Directory

Check out and help build a new Internet directory.  The Big Brain wants to be “The Internet’s Smartest Directory”.

New Veteran’s Benefits Summary, College Announces Tuition Freeze

December 12, 2008

Our guest blog article today is provided courtesy of Allied American University (AAU), a military friendly college that offers online associate and bachelor’s degree programs.
New GI Bill Benefits Will Send More Veterans to College
This past summer Congress voted to increase GI Bill benefits for American veterans, and US colleges are expecting to enroll more and more veterans, many of them fresh from the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The increased benefits will allow many veterans to focus solely on school when they get out, instead of trying to balance full-time work while they tackle a degree. Right now there are currently 320,000 students taking advantage of GI Bill benefits, which is based on the federal program created at the end of World War II to help returning veterans pay for college.

Modifications to the GI Bill now allow veterans to attend private schools, in addition to providing them with a monthly housing stipend, as well as money to help pay for textbooks. 

“We’ll see a huge increase in vets going to school,” Rodrigo Garcia, Midwest regional director of Student Veterans of America told the South town Star. “Before they were hesitant to go to school because many of the vets have families and wanted to take care of them. It was too pressing to take classes, work full time and provide for the kids.”

The new GI Bill benefits will go into effect in Aug. 2009 and many experts predict that as many as 500,000 vets will enroll in college using the benefits. Many universities these days are proactive in making sure veterans enrolled at their respective schools know about the new benefits. 

The transition from the military to the university is often a difficult one for veterans.   There is certainly a world of difference between a typical 19-year-old freshmen and a veteran who may be in his late 20s, with multiple combat tours under his belt.

There are also veterans who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder or have physical disabilities as a result of war-time injuries. Veterans with disabilities qualify for special assistance through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program of the VA, which may pay 100% of a veteran’s expenses until graduation.

Many veterans began their education before they separated from the service, by using Tuition Assistance to pay for classes at both community colleges and four-year universities. Some service members took classes online, which allowed them to study while deployed.

In the state of Illinois, for example, there are now 15,500 veterans enrolled in college. When the new GI Bill goes into effect next August, veterans who served on active duty after Sept. 10, 2001 will be eligible for benefits (some restrictions apply).

The government will pay the full-cost of tuition and fees for veterans who served three years on active duty or were injured. The housing allowance, for example, for a veteran in the Chicago, Ill.-area will be approximately $1,600 per month.  Veterans will also receive up to $1,000 annually for books and other school supplies, plus $100 a month for tutoring.

There are now a number of online universities that specialize in enrolling veterans and service members. Many of them offer textbook and military spouse scholarships, along with self-paced schedules and other military-friendly policies.
Good News from Merrimack College

Merrimack College (North Andover, MA) announced today that it will not raise tuition, room, or board next year.

Free Education, Rising Textbook Costs, College Grads Suffer Lower Unemployment, & More

December 8, 2008

Texas A&M University System Offers a Free Education to Some Students from Low Income Families

The Texas A&M University System has approved a new program that will provide full tuition and fees for incoming freshmen from families earning less than $30,000 a year who earn a grade point average of 2.5 or higher.

Textbook Costs Continue to Rise

According to the Baltimore Sun, college students now spend nearly $1,000 a year for textbooks.  Of course, students can reduce their cost by renting textbooks or purchasing used texts, but it is way past time for colleges and universities to demand that publishers reduce prices.

College Grads Fare Better in Joblessness

According to, college graduates are currently half as likely to be unemployed as those without college degrees.  However, grads are not immune from the current ecomomic crunch.  In November, more than 1.4 million graduates were without jobs.

Online College Student Enrollment Rises

Although some traditional colleges and universities have experienced enrollment declines, the number of students enrolled in online degree programs is continuing to rise as more and more working adults further their education.

College Accreditation and Disclosure

July 18, 2008

Roland Martin is a pretty frequent CNN contributor.  In his latest CCN column online, he states that John McCain’s stance on school vouchers is correct and that Barack Obama’s position is misguided.  McCain, as you are probably aware, like most Republicans, favors vouchers, while Obama, like most in his party, is not enthusiastic about them.

I’ve read Martin’s columns before, so I was not surprised that he takes such a strong stance on the issue of vouchers or that he pretty much adheres to the traditional conservative mantra on the subject.
In an attempt to learn more about Mr. Martin, I visited his website, where his activities, past and present, were listed.  Certainly Mr. Martin is a prolific journalistic.  He has received numerous awards.  And, after reading a bit more about his background and his writings it becomes obvious he has an unflinching point of view about the world.  Martin is clearly a man to whom faith and religion are important.  And, he is married to a clergywoman who is herself a published author.

That’s why it’s surprising that Mr. Martin,  a man whose work appears on, a man who is seen on TV and heard on radio, a multiple journalism award winner, and a man with strong opinions about education, and a man who has certainly been successful, claims a masters degree from an apparently unaccredited online “university”.  The institution in question is Louisiana Baptist University, which describes itself as “a pioneer in distance education” and lists 1973 as the year it was founded.

Louisiana Baptist does not claim accreditation.  And, it is not listed in the U.S. Department of Education data base of accredited institutions.  The University website does say that it is, “semi-annually examined by an independent review committee comprised of ministers and educators” and lists a few memberships and/or affiliations.

The President’s message states, “We do not strive to pattern our institution after the humanistic, shifting systems of secular education”.  Similar statements have appeared on the websites of other religiously-based unaccredited colleges and universities which frequently claim that, because of the nature of their missions, accreditation is not important to them and/or might require them to make unacceptable religious compromises.  That premise may seem reasonable to some people.

But, I have a very big problem with it, especially if such institutions do not clearly state that students who spend significant time and money to earn a degree at their institutions will have fewer options than graduates of accredited colleges and universities.  I have worked in graduate school admissions and met with folks who have earned B.A. or B.S. degrees from unaccredited colleges.  These very decent people were often shocked to learn that the institution for which I worked, and similar graduate institutions, could not even consider them for admission.

Louisiana Baptist offers both undergraduate and doctoral degrees in education.  If the University warns prospective students that these programs will not enable them to be licensed to teach in public schools, I couldn’t find the warning anywhere on their website.  I bet you won’t find it either.

As for the we-don’t need-to-be-accredited or we-won’t-compromise-our-beliefs arguments that some unaccredited institutions make, my response is simple.  Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two of the most fundamentalist clergymen of the last 50 years founded universities that have become fully accredited.  Even Bob Jones University is accredited.

In fact, there is a long list of accredited Christian colleges and universities which ascribe to pretty fundamentalist religious doctrines.  And, many more accredited colleges are affiliated with religious denominations.

It is time…well past time, actually… that we compel unaccredited colleges and universities to make full disclosure to prospective students.

And, in my humble opinion, it’s time for Mr. Martin to either remove the reference to his graduate degree from his website or to be up- front about the fact that it comes from an unaccredited institution.

Note:  Learn more about the importance of college accreditation.

Shakeup in For-Profit Education?

February 18, 2008

The most recent Sunday edition of The New York Times carried an interesting article written by Gretchen Morgenson entitled “The Insiders Are Selling, But Why”, about the fact that 13 Apollo Group insiders have recently sold 1.6 million shares of stock. In addition, the Apollo Group, which owns the University of Phoenix, did no share repurchasing during the most recent quarter, in contrast with extensive repurchasing in the past. Apollo stock, Morgenson tells us, is down 14% from it’s peak, while Career Education Corporation and the Corinthian Colleges…two other major players in for-profit education, have seen their stock prices fall by 31% and 50% respectively.

It has since been announced that the Career Education Corporation will close several of its schools and colleges after allowing currently enrolled students to complete the programs in which they are now enrolled. McIntosh College in Dover, New Hapshire, founded in 1896, is among the institutions scheduled to close. Lehigh Valley College, and Gibbs schools and colleges in New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are also scheduled to cease operating.

For many reasons, including significant enrollment growth, Apollo seems to be in better shape than most of its competitors. But, with recent changes and heightened government and consumer interest in the student lending industry, the nation’s current economic woes, the financial pressures being felt by lenders, and the number of high risk loans awarded to students at proprietary institutions, life in the for-profit education world may become more difficult for the schools, for investors, and for students.

Typically, for-profit schools offer limited scholarships. And, such schools attract a fair number of low income students who require financial aid to continue their education. Thus, if loans become more difficult or costly to obtain, it may well be proprietary schools and the students they serve who will be impacted most dramatically.

Nobody is predicting the demise of for-profit education. In fact, recent events may make some stocks in the sector a good value. But, when the insiders of the most successful corporation in the sector sell off massive holdings for relatively small profit and a major player closes long established schools after failing to find buyers for them, many questions arise.

Among those questions; is a major shakeup coming in the for-profit education sector? Will we see more closings (and perhaps displaced students)? Will there be mergers or will the larger chains acquire smaller chains and/or independents? Will the small independent hair dressing schools, massage schools, and business training schools be able to survive? Will more students turn to community colleges? If so, will 25% go on to four-year colleges as they do now?

Will students, who now find online degree programs increasingly attractive, turn to online colleges in even greater numbers?

It will be very interesting and very telling to watch the trends in the fairly immediate future (perhaps 12 months) and in the next few years.