Is the University playing keep-away?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by LearningAddict, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I'm having what I perceive to be a strange situation going on with the University I have enrolled in. I would like to get your thoughts on the following situation:

    The school I have enrolled in has been offering an Associates degree program, for almost 100 years. They are regionally accrediated by The Higher Learning Commission, a commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, so their legitimacy in terms of accreditation is not an issue.

    I am taking this program by distance, online. Everything seemed to be going okay; I'm set to start classes in a few weeks, and I should be able to finish up in well under a year. But, inconsistencies have started to pop up...

    1. The admissions advisor says that she does not have information on the exact listing order of the courses I am to be taking.

    2. Aftering asking several times over the past few weeks, the admissions advisor has continued to tell me that no one knows the exact books that I am to be needing in order to take my classes, yet she was able to tell me which two classes I am taking in the first semester...

    To #1, it seems strange that no one would have this information when the classes are set to start in just a few weeks... and for the fact that this course has been offered for many, many years.

    To #2, It seems apparent (and its no surprise) to me that the University would rather I buy the books from them and pay about $125 per book, instead of me buying it used from Amazon or another alternative source for about $11-$30 per book (which is a price I have seen for at least one course book). I need to know how much money I'll need to borrow and get this set ASAP, because classes are not far off from start (about 26 days).

    I did voice my belief to the admissions counselor about what the Universities (covert) stance probably is concerning students buying books elsewhere, and she said: "You could always just borrow more than you need now, and then return what you don't need." She went on to say that, "Most students don't purchase books until a week before classes start".

    ... I abruptly told her that this is not the way I want to go on either of her suggestions.

    Here is another interesting tidbit... When I signed up for the Associates program at the beginning, they seemed like they did not want me to do it, and instead did everything they could to convince me to sign up for the Bachelors program. It seems like they treat the Associate program like a bastard stepchild that no one wants to acknowledge; they don't even have a single Associate course book available on their bookstore website. They even said things to me like, "The Associates course is more for kids just coming out of High School with no experience." So as to make me feel like I am stepping myself down to a lower level, and make me feel the need to save face by moving up to the higher-level program. That effort failed miserably...

    I have a plan in place and starting at the Associates level will give me a number of transfer options when I finish, and it will also help me cut down tremendously on the amount of time/money I'll need to finish a Bachelors program at some other target institutions which count both credits and experience towards a Bachelors (including the School in question). I made it clear that I refuse to deviate from that plan, and I was able to enroll in the Associates program.

    Bottom line, I think the story I am getting is absolute hogwash; I think they know fully well what course books I need (how could they not?). I feel that they have a strategy to make me wait it out so long that I have no choice but to tell them that I will make the purchases from them, rather than from my considerably cheaper alternative sources. I think the advisor suggested I take out the largest possible loan, so that when/if their plan comes to fruition, I'll have enough to pay those inflated book prices.

    I have not paid a dime of tuition yet; only an application/enrollment fee, and if there is validity to my feeling that the school is trying to strategize some sort of keep-away game with the book info, I will be willing to withdraw and walk on to a different school.

    Thanks for reading through this. Please give me any suggestions/advice you may have... I'm all ears.
  2. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    You need to stop talking with people who don't have "Director" or "Dean" in their title. Not to be nasty, but if you start getting people in trouble for not giving you answers, you'll start getting what you need quickly.

    Also, keep notes of all your interaction with them, including people's names. Nothing gets you better service faster than saying, "What's your name?"

  3. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Its a good thing that a great deal of my communications with the school have been done by email, with names and such being documented... I guess its also good that I never throw away any of my emails :D
  4. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Wow, I cannot believe some of the typos/misspellings I have in the beginning post, LOL... Ahhhhh, the fruits of stress...
  5. jimnagrom

    jimnagrom New Member

    1. Be nice.
    2. Try to communicate in email whenever possible (paper trail).
    3. Simply say "I don't understand - can you please share with me the instructor's/Dean's name and their email?"
    4. Be nice.

    Note: Schools vary widely on how they handle rtextbooks. Many have a text that everyone teaching the class will use. Some let the teacher pick any d--n book they want (Roosevelt U comes to mind). The advisor may not know
  6. iquagmire

    iquagmire Member

    All I can say is "WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD OF ONLINE LEARNING" - I've been through this many times with UMUC, Nova, Baker, as well as well established ground schools like FIU, etc. It doesn't matter how long the school has been or reputation - most of these schools don't get their act together until the last week prior to the start of class. Bummer.
  7. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    That's some serious ineptitude. I'd hate to believe that this is so widespread, but I'm sure it probably is.

    I do have my course info (and hopefully this is the final draft, lol), and the advisor did tell me about the first two classes that I will be taking, but still no book info. What I found strange (among other things), is that the course listing on my application differed greatly from the course listing on the University website.

    I'll be screwed for sure if the textbook info is not available sooner than a week before start. It would almost certainly force me to buy the books from them, which would cost me anywhere from 4-10 times the cost of alternative sources... of course, as I mentioned earlier, this is probably their intention anyway. It is still a business after all, and they have to do what's best for them; and of course as a student/customer I have to do what's best for myself... So I realize that the student will always have differences with the institution in this regard (and others)... I sure had differences with my Trade school, but that's another tale entirely :mad:

    I have until next Wednesday to complete loan information, so what I'm going to do is give it until this Friday afternoon, and then if nothing turns up I'll just speak to the Director of Admissions. If nothing turns up there, I'll attempt to contact specific professors who are in my program (although I know this will be more difficult). The University actually encourages students to contact teaching faculty about courses, so I might as well take that liberty, as a last resort.
  8. jimnagrom

    jimnagrom New Member

    Dude, why would that be your "last" resort? It should be your immediate one - the teacher certainly knows what book they are going to use.
  9. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Because, I'm going to have to go through the other channels to find out who to speak to within the teaching faculty.

    It would be great if I could just get to them directly, but they don't make it quite that easy. Heck, I have to speak to one switchboard operator just to get to the main switchboard operator...

    ... They have one helluva filtering system.
  10. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    I agree with most of what the others have said. However, it sounds like you are doubting your decision. Think this over very well before making the final decision.

    Just my two centavos!

    Abner :)
  11. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Re: Re: Is the University playing keep-away?


    Everything will ride on how and when they handle making this very necessary information available.
  12. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    It might help if you tell us the actual school. Odds are someone here already dealt with them and can give you better advice.
  13. Jigamafloo

    Jigamafloo New Member

    Edowave beat me too this (just barely). Which school? If someone on this board hasn't dealt with the particular school, they've dealt with a similar obstacle.

    I was polite, patient (to a fault), but persistently insistent with Bellevue, and it cleared a lot of smoke out of the administraive hassles and snafus when it finally came to reaching a decision maker on issues that affected enrollment and graduation.

  14. Mighty_Tiki

    Mighty_Tiki Member

    I am going through this right now as well...

    I have my book list from Peru but new this year is no ISBN #s. I emailed the Distance Coordinator and she gave me the ISBN for a different edition than is stated in the book list. I re-emailed her and asked again and she swore that the edition and the ISBN matched. Nope, sorry thanks for playing but not even close one is a 3rd and the other is the 5th.. I was very polite and asked her to ask the prof who I have already had for three classes and he says it is the edition in the booklist, but now I'm nervous and I don't want to get wrong edition. Thankfully I can get both editions from Amazon for under half of the cost that the school bookstore is charging, but still, come on if your gonna have a full distance program supporting at least 5 online degrees this stuff should be no brainer. They do not have an extensive course listing of online offerings, we're talking 40-45 classes a semester. Setting a booklist up for that shouldn't be that hard. After the thrid email asking for clarification the coordinator was a little ruffled and said this is why we don't give the ISBN #s out anymore, just get the third edition and you should be fine. Now I ask would anyone here risk their 4.0 on "should"? So I feel your pain, but as the others have said this is distance learning and the headaches that we deal with to better ourselves while maintaining other commitments. Just remember, persistance pays in the end!
  15. jimnagrom

    jimnagrom New Member

    Re: I am going through this right now as well...

    A couple of thoughts...

    1. The same book CAN have multiple ISBN's - frequently one for academia and another for others (MS Press is especially prone to this). If you have an e-mail from the Coordinator saying "just get the 3rd edition" you are probably OK.

    2. The fact you are using e-mail is good, but unless, the coordinator WILL NOT give the the instructor's e-mail, why not simply e-mail the instructor (bearing in maind that the instructor, especially if they are adjunct, may not be on the payroll yet and has no obligation to answer anything.
  16. Longwaytogo

    Longwaytogo New Member

    Welcome, indeed, Learning Addict!

    Is your school a for-profit, private or a state-supported school?
    I would bet that they are not deliberately trying to steer you to their bookstore.

    At my Nationally ranked 4th tier state U, the online book ordering for distance students never seems to get the course information until, say, 3 days before the class! Unbelievable.

    In every course I've taken there, I've noticed that a lot of students have emailed the professor with the same complaint: "I haven't received my books yet." I've seen first assignments delayed 3 weeks in a 16 week semester due to this disorganization! Many stores end up with "backorders" at the beginning of the semester and this doesn't seem to prevent the schools from going ahead with the course.

    I agree we should get the ISBN numbers. I'm sure they realize students want to shop around....but have also run into situations where Amazon has the same edition, same title, same authors, yet you can't get it with the same course inclusions your professor you can imagine, this gets very confusing for the staff after a while. Plus, as jimnagrom pointed out, professors can (and often do) choose their own texts.

    But I hear you about the Associate Degree issue....wonder why they have such a low opinion of their own program?

    Good luck, in any case!
  17. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    You guys have been great. Thanks for all of the insight!

    Here is what I did today:

    I emailed the Financial Advisor and told her that I was having a problem getting ahold of my course book information. I made it clear (although in a very carefully worded/diplomatic, but highly calculated way, lol) that I will not be completing my financial information until I have my course book information.

    I told the Financial Advisor that I will set a cut-off date of August 10th, and if the information is not made available to me by then, I will withdraw and walk on to another school.

    I waited for a bit, got no response, and then decided to call and fight my way through the switchboard ranks until I got to the Financial advisor... Apparently, the Fin-Ad had not read my email yet, so I took the liberty of paraphrasing the information that it contained, for her.

    The Fin-Ad appeared to be confused by my requests (although I was speaking english, and the requests were nothing difficult). So she turned me over to her Manager, and I explained to the Manager the exact same things that I'd said in the email...

    The Manager said that complete course info will be hard to grab right now, because Professors are still in the process of choosing books, and editions might change between now and other semesters... Okay, that's understandable. Still, I had a hunch that they would at least have information on the first two classes and I wasn't hanging up until I got it. So instead of letting her off the hook, I asked her "Is it possible for you to obtain the information for the first two classes, at least?" I suggested this, because I already knew which two starting classes I was going to be taking, and I believed that these were already set, especially since those classes are starting in just a few weeks.

    At this point, the Manager expressed some surprise that I had not been given over to my Academic Advisor already, and that I had not even gotten my course order yet... If her surprise was genuine, then I suppose that she was just as surprised about this mishandling as I was at that time :rolleyes:

    Anyway, the Manager tells me that she is going to look into this immediately, and puts me on hold... She comes back maybe 8 seconds later (hmmmm), and says that she "just spoke to the Course Coodinator, and the book information will be made available Friday (tomorrow)". She REALLY wanted me to get those funds through ASAP, and made that very clear in so many words.

    As we began to part, I made sure to remind her of the deadline that I have set, and that I will not disburse funds until the information is made available... I guess the threat of taking my money elsewhere was the magic trick when speaking with the Financial Advisor, because no more than 30 minutes later, my Enrollment Advisor who claims that the information is not available sends me an email with the exact essential information for my first two courses! LOL!

    Although the desired outcome has been achieved, I now feel certain that all of this "missing" information was not just unavailable by chance, but rather by design. I think they were surprised that I'd caught onto it and played hardball... Their actions, and the way the sequence was handled made it appear obvious to me. Just because I'm taking an Associates business course, it doesn't mean that I don't know how to play the game... After all, I have successfully owned and operated a business for a number years and was also a Manager, Supervisor and Evaluator in various business positions from small offices to the U.S. Government... We all acquire skills and knowledge outside of the classroom, and if I've learned nothing else, I've learned to recognize when I'm being BS'd. They shouldn't understimate the unknown, and hopefully that lesson was communicated to them... Of course, I'm sure they'll attempt to pull this again on other students, LOL.

    ... Ahhhh, well, that's business... not exactly ethical business in my book, but business nonetheless :D
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2006
  18. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    Its a private school.

    I was really trying hard to believe it, but they just kept pushing their store on me with sales-pitch after sales-pitch... I felt like I was talking to a telemarketer, lol.

    I think it comes down to them wanting to get the maximum amount of money in tuition and other miscellaneous fees. The Associates program being the least costly is the least favorable for them. I mean, sure, I understand them wanting to make more money and all, but at the same time I think its a bad move from a PR standpoint to put the Associates program in such an unflattering light. They really need to rethink their approach on that, as there are better ways to talk up the merits of the longer programs without disrespecting the shorter.
  19. jimnagrom

    jimnagrom New Member

    I have never heard of texts for the Fall semester not being selected by the end of the Spring semester (and I have taught at several for-profit as well as puclic institutions)...the Manager was BSing you - wonder what the REAL reason is - not that it matters.
  20. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I guess there was more BS within the BS, lol.

    What a shame.

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