Is California Coast a time bomb ?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Ee, Mar 12, 2001.

  1. Ee

    Ee New Member

  2. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I'll give you my opinion: a definite "yes and no". The question of whether a degree might explode isn't a clear cut 'either-or' thing.

    Obviously a fraudulent "degree" that one simply purchases or invents is nitroglycerine in a rollercoaster, it can explode at any time and probably will.

    But if you become a professional, and if you make enemies that would like to discredit you, the fact that you have any kind of unaccredited degree could become a very tempting target. Just imagine being called upon to testify in court as an expert if your degree isn't accredited. The opposing counsel would become a pitbull and tear your throat out.

    Personally, I think that the California approved schools are a step above sham schools that simply sell "degrees". Perhaps some of these state approved schools even approach the low end of the accredited schools in academic quality.

    Unfortunately the California approval process is less credible than a recognized accreditation process. Approved schools may be good or they may be less than good. The approval doesn't really provide much quality assurance beyond the fact that the school makes an attempt at education and isn't a complete fraud.

    Bottom line: I think that any non-accredited degree can explode. Some of them are much more unstable than others. And the question of whether a particular degree explodes probably depends in part on whether you hold it over a flame by trying to pass it in fields in which a respected degree is an expected 'union card', by making professional enemies or by becoming well known and controversial.
  3. Tom Head

    Tom Head New Member

    Depends on what you use the degree for. California Coast happens to be my favorite unaccredited (U.S.) school, and I've never seen anything that would make me believe it's even close to a degree mill, but I can't imagine anyone using a California Coast degree to do anything but write books, host a radio show, give self-help talks, etc. The lack of accreditation, in other words, seriously hampers it -- no matter how legitimate the degree-earning process at California Coast might be.



    Tom Head
    co-author, Get Your IT Degree and Get Ahead (Osborne/McGraw-Hill)
  4. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    I basically echo Tom Head's comments, but am probably a little less enthusiastic. While Cal Coast seems well intentioned, and don't hide the fact that they're unaccredited, they are also somewhat misleading, as their materials mention the dozens of memberships they have in various organizations that might mislead some into thinking that the school is accredited. A fine line to walk for marketing purposes, and I'm not sure they've crossed it, but it does raise questions for me.

    Also, one must remember that as recently as four years ago, Columbia Pscific was thought of as very reputable and credible, in the same league as Cal Coast... but that was before their bogus Native American accreditation, the move to Montana, the decertification by California, etc... and so, while any school can go bad, accredited or not, I bet that statistically, there are far more unaccrediteds that either go bad or go out of business than accrediteds.

    So in that regard, I believe the accredited route is always the way to go... you'll never have to worry about what might happen down the road.
  5. Ee

    Ee New Member

    Anyway, Cal Coast does not offer many areas of study. What if a state licensure psychologist with a Cal Coast PhD were to stand as an expert witness in court ? Is this witness credible ?

  6. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator Staff Member

    An expert witness cannot just be produced, they have to be examined and certified by the court. In a California court, I could see a Cal Coast Ph.D. being certified if they were also state licensed, but even then I can see the other side bringing out the carving forks about the unaccredited status of the school. Outside California, forget it.

  7. David Yamada

    David Yamada New Member

    Tom, I generally agree with you that non-regionally accredited doctorates are going to be of limited use beyond the kinds of self-generated, entrepreneurial activities you mention.

    However, I think it's important to add that, at this juncture in the evolution of distance learning, even regionally-accredited DL doctorates are of limited use compared to their residential siblings. Yes, yes, I know that institutions like Union and Fielding have managed to find some of their graduates in positions such as full-time faculty and administrators at RA, residential colleges and universities. But these individuals remain the pioneers, and it is likely to stay this way in the face of the increasing credentialism that seems to be gripping so much of society. In the case of the potential expert witness, a Ph.D. holder from Fielding or Union or Walden could still be torpedoed with a line of questioning that starts out with, "And isn't it true that you earned your doctorate by spending less than six weeks on campus?"

    Indeed, it strikes me as ironic that the same attitudes that might be visited on holders of non-RA DL doctorates in terms of credentials are also directed at holders of RA DL doctorates. For example, within the more traditional academic world that I spend most of my time in, I'm seeing a considerable backlash towards distance learning in general from faculty members at regionally-accredited institutions. Now, the reasons for the backlash are complex and certainly infused with self-interest. But these are the folks who make initial decisions on who gets interviewed for full-time teaching slots.

    David Yamada, [email protected]
  8. Guest

    Guest Guest


    I agree that DL is an evolving process, and that recognition and acceptance of such degrees is evolving as well--IMHO, in a positive sense. There will no doubt always be those in traditional academia, who for whatever reason, display academic arrogance toward those who earn degrees nontraditionally.

    However, DL is more readily embraced than it was even ten years ago, and is enjoying wider acceptance among traditional academia. If current research is any indication, it seems this trend will continue.

    Yes, an attorney could cross examine one who holds a DL doctorate and say something like "Is it true you earned your doctorate with less than six weeks on campus?" He could also say the same for someone who spent six months, one year, etc. on campus, as opposed to one who spent two years in residence. One who actually lived on campus while earning a degree could easily look with disdain on the one who commuted from 50 miles away, and completed the degree via evening classes. So I think to some degree there will always be an "us & them" mentality within academia, as it is the nature of humankind to excel beyond one's counterpart.

  9. tcnixon

    tcnixon Active Member

    As an aside, a former professor of mine who is a specialist in forensic linguistics is often an expert witness in trials. He's even had the fact that he is *only* a faculty member at a CSU campus while the other side's expert witness is a faculty member at a UC campus (more prestigious!). Both RA. Both CA schools.

    Yes, I do believe an attorney would beat up on a guy with a CCU degree.

    Tom Nixon
  10. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Of course, it has been evolving for about 160 years. The great surge in this field, however, is now more than 30 years old (the development of Regents, UWW, UECU, et. al.). I believe what you're seeing now is a "traditionalization" of nontraditional higher education. Like rap music, it is being absorbed by the mainstream.

    Rich Douglas, who knew rap was dead as a cutting edge art form when he saw it being performed on McDonald's commercials.
  11. DWCox

    DWCox member

    Regarding the acceptance of DL doctoral degrees.

    Although some of us might never experience it in our lifetime distance learning graduate degrees will gain full and unconditional acceptance by the general population as a majority of doctoral professionals gain their degree via the distance method. We will only have to wait for those who earned their degree traditionally to die off while distance delivered doctoral degrees replace the those gained residentially.

    Let's not forget that to have a doctorate is very impressive and the current members of this fraternity don't want the overall number of doctorates to increase thereby somehow devalueing their accomplishment.

    My 2 cents.

  12. cbkent

    cbkent New Member

    I agree with Bill. If you are controversial, your professional adversaries are likely to look for anything which might detract from your credibility.

    I completed the Calcoast (then Cal Western) B.A./M.A. program, and was very pleased with it. However, I do not list these degrees on my C.V. Why? 1) I'm controversial and b) I teach postgraduate courses for several traditionally accredited colleges on the basis of my Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Candid discussion with the administration of one made it clear that the Calcoast degrees would not enhance my C.V.

    To me, the knowledge gained was worth the expense and effort. But my advice is to pursue an RA program if at all possible.

    I'm not at all jaded...I'm currently enrolled in an correspondence law program. The prize is not a degree, but the opportunity to qualify for a professional license which would allow ME to grill others about their credentials! [​IMG]

  13. Guest

    Guest Guest


    Were you able to enter the Doctor of Chiropractic program based on your degrees from CWU? And is the DC degree regionally accredited?

  14. drwetsch

    drwetsch New Member

    DL needs to stay out of the closest. Overall I think DL students work harder, are better motivated, and are more willing to bring their life experiences into the classroom. Hence, I would bet that the quality of graduate from a legit DL program is higher than most traditional programs. As our use of technology increases more people will experience online education in one form or another and any stigma will soon be gone.

    I do agree with a previous comment that the mainstream is absorbing the nontraditional approach. As such, it will boil down to branding which is what we have today. You can get a great education at a land grant university but we consider an Ivy League education better. I could earn, by DL, a masters from Nova (a pioneer to nontraditional graduate study) or a masters from Harvard (a relative newcomer to DL graduate study). So even if Nova offers a better educational product the Harvard branding (i.e. pedigree) carries more weight.

  15. cbkent

    cbkent New Member


    No, I did not use these degrees for admission to the DC program. At that time, only 2 years of pre-professional study were required for admission, which I obtained at an RA school. I did the BA/MA after the DC.

    All US chiropractic colleges are accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education, a USOE recognized accreditor. CCE only accredits DC programs.

    Many (but not all) chiropractic colleges are also regionally accredited. Some have evolved into universitires, offering degrees other than the DC. To my knowledge, all of the schools offering other degrees other than DC (BS, MS in anatomy, etc) have both CCE and regional accreditation.

    However, regional accreditation does not guarantee transferability of credits. Many schools have policies that transfer credit be granted only for courses analagous to those offered by the school accepting the credits. Many DC courses are quite technical. Although accredited, the number of DC courses transferable to an undergraduate program is limited.

    I'm in the position of having graduated from a school that is now regionally accredited, but was not at the time of my graduation (1973).

  16. David Yamada

    David Yamada New Member

    Christopher's comments raise the useful possibility of selective use of DL credentials (RA or not), i.e., having two or more c.v.s for different purposes.

    Like Christopher, I'm pursuing a non-R.A., state-approved doctorate, this one at the Western Institute for Social Research. I am doing it for my own intellectual interests, not for advancement or credential recognition in my work as a law professor at an ABA law school. I don't regret enrolling at WISR; quite to the contrary, it's been just the intellectual tonic I was looking for, and the program I'm putting together may not have been possible at any other school.

    Nevertheless, I shall use the degree (assuming I finish!) selectively, including it on my c.v. in some instances, but not for situations strictly involving my work as a professor. For that I'll rely on my J.D., which is the key degree credential for my work anyway.

    By the way, the current issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education has a long article on non-R.A. degrees, particularly doctorates, quoting among others John Bear and Steve Levicoff.

    Notwithstanding my own decision to enroll in the Western Institute, I share overall concerns about the quality of non-RA graduate programs. However, what also is deeply disturbing to me is a sort of emerging witch hunt mentality that is being directed toward any non-RA school.

    Indeed, the history of distance learning and non-traditional higher education generally shows that truly innovative, cutting-edge educational approaches typically take time to gain acceptance by accreditors. It follows that if we as defenders of DL permit blanket, unconditional attacks on all non-RA institutions, then we risk throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    David Yamada, [email protected]
  17. Guest

    Guest Guest

    IMHO, David is correct in his observation. There are non-RA programs which do provide a quality educational experience, and in some instances (limited though they may be) may be all one needs to achieve their objective. CA state approved degrees which allow one to sit for the bar exam or gain state licensure in psychology would be an example. Also, some RA institutions will allow entrance into a masters program with a non-RA undergrad degree, placing the student on academic probation for a semester or two.

    At the present time, however, RA is the accepted standard, whether the degree is earned traditionally or via DL.


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