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Fortune - Online Degrees: Separating the Solid From the Flimsy

CNN Money - Fortune - Oct. 26, 2012

Fortune features GetEducated's online degree comparison tools

Online Degrees: Separating the Solid from the Flimsy

Fortune Magazine career columnist Annie Fischer interviews Get Educated founder Vicky Phillips to learn how consumers can use the free online degree comparison tools developed by Get Educated to help consumers separate real online degree programs from bogus operations and to separate low quality degree programs from their better designed cousins.

Says Fisher:

"Phillips has been researching and comparing online degree programs for 20 years, which is about as long as they've existed. She runs a consumer-information web site called that you might want to check out. The site includes a comparison tool that lets you evaluate and rank schools using 12 different filters. These include type of specialization in your major (business with a minor in finance, for instance); non-profit versus for-profit; secular versus religious (many Christian colleges now offer long-distance learning); and whether the school's programs are 100% online or "hybrids," meaning you'll have to show up in person several times per semester."

In the article, Phillips outlines for Fisher the top three things consumers should to look for in locating online degrees that are perceived as high in quality by employers:

In general, Phillips believes online education has gained wide acceptance among employers. "People do worry that companies won't recognize an online degree as equal to the in-person kind," she says. "But our research shows that job interviewers have no problem with it -- as long as they see two things."

First is accreditation by a legitimate accrediting agency -- which can be tricky, since some for-profit schools claim to be accredited by phony agencies they've invented themselves.

Second, Phillips recommends consumers concentrate their search on distance degree programs offered by state universities or private brick-and-mortar schools which enjoy brad names that are familiar to local employers. Another strategy is to focus on online degree programs that come from universities which enjoy a particularly solid reputation in one's chosen industry. "Whatever reputation a school has will carry over to its online-degree programs," notes Phillips. "So a 'brand name' an employer recognizes and respects will matter a lot more than whether you earned the degree online or in person."

US News & World Report - What to Do About a Bad Online Bachelor's Degree Program?
US News & World Report - June 28, 2013

US News & World Report consult GetEducated's online student reviews to help others deal with bad online degree programs

Online degree programs are not all alike. What can a student do if he or she finds themselves enrolled in an online bachelor degree program that fails to meet quality standards? US News higher education reporter Devon Haynie cites Get Educated's analysis of 1,000+ verified online student reviews to illustrate where and how good colleges can go bad when it comes to online degree quality control. 

Students often feel frustrated when an online degree program isn't living up to their expectations, but they shouldn't feel helpless, experts say. If students are proactive about changing their circumstances, they have a chance of receiving the education they deserve.

Nonresponsive instructors are the No. 1 complaint students have about their online programs, says Vicky Phillips, founder of, a website that ranks online degree programs based on student reviews, affordability and public perception. Phillips surveyed 1,000 students in verified online education programs between April 2009 and June 2012 and asked them about their experiences.

The others, in order, are poor customer service and advising; a dislike of group work; bad overall quality control; and subpar course design.

Too often, Phillips says, online students who try to voice their concerns about their courses find their institutions are poorly equipped to handle the complaints.

"The culture of many colleges is not very customer-oriented," she says. "Students are now older and nontraditional and they have more of a consumer approach. That expectation is coming up against a culture where traditionally there is not a lot of accountability."

Most students were happy with their online programs, according to the survey, but those who reported concerns tended to encounter the same problems.

Read the full US News & World Report story

Time - The $7,000 Computer Science Degree and the Future of Higher Education
Time Magazine - May 5, 2013

Time Magazine taps into GetEducated cost data for MOOC analysis

Time Magazine taps Get Educated cost data on online computer science degrees to benchmark the comparative cost of a new $7,000 MOOC degree to be offered online from Georgia Tech University in partnership with Udacity. With student debt for a bachelor's degree standing at an average of $32,500 analysts see the new low-cost MOOC computer science master's as a sign that edtech innovations may lead to a burgeoning line of affordable STEM degrees from established residential universities such as Georgia Tech. 

MOOCs are open and free—unless you want to attach any type of assessment, credentialing or professional certification to them. Certification, assessment and authentication of college level learning is not free,” blogger Vicky Phillips writes on According to research by, the average cost of an online computer science master’s degree program is just under $25,000. Georgia Tech undercuts that average by more than two-thirds.

e-Literate Blog - Indiana Community Colleges Face Closure: What Went Wrong?
MindWires Consulting
e-Literate Blog - Phil Hill - June 28, 2013

MindWires Consulting talks with Vicky Phillips about Indiana Community College system collapse

Higher education analyst Phil Hill examines what went wrong inside Indiana's community college system, Ivy Tech, to create a financial implosion. Ivy Tech has seen record growth over the last decade. The system provides 2-year online degrees and certificates in technical and business majors to the majority of Indiana's rural, non-traditional student body. Get Educated founder, Vicky Phillips, who was born and raised in Indiana, is cited in Hill's detailed analysis of two decades of trouble that led to Ivy Tech's implosion at the same time the system is being called on the serve record numbers of students both on campus and online.

To put it bluntly, this situation (at Ivy Tech) is a disaster. We have college and state officials pointing fingers at each other while an entire state’s community college population – the students – are being underserved, and the situation is about to get worse. Who is right about the blame – Ivy Tech or state officials? It might be that both are right to blame the other. This situation has not been caused by a single culprit, but this situation illustrates the systemic problems facing public higher education.

As Vicky Phillips pointed out in our Google+ discussion:

Poor internal management married up with decades of external pressure and infighting to create this mess.

Like many public institutions Ivy Tech was in no way prepared to meet the demands and stresses of rapid growth.

It’s irrational. Publicly funded institutions do not know how to compete and grow in today’s marketplace. Record demand is there for Ivy Tech programs, but to manage an exploding system like this requires keen fiscal skills + the ability to respond to rapid growth using an irrational and outdated funding system tied to the legislature and very local and regional loyalties.

This is the number one reason private, for-profit education is exploding — the state schools were never chartered to grow or respond to consumer demand (you see this in California also). They literally canNOT catch their fiscal breathe under an antiquated public funding system. Demand is surging at the same time public funding and support are dwindling at record paces.

Ivy Tech is a case study of many of the back-breaking issues facing higher education today.

I think that Vicky is right in her analysis. This is not to argue that public higher education should get out of the way, it is simply a description of what is happening. Public higher education has systemic issues preventing many states from serving the students who most need low-cost, accessible college degrees. The Ivy Tech saga provides a case study and warning for other states. To address student demand, we need to change funding models, improve institutional management, and help students complete their degrees and not just enroll. These challenges won’t be solved by pointing fingers and looking for single culprits.


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