Thomas Edison State College- unusual situation?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by cookderosa, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    I am nearing completion of my first semester at TESC. My experience has been very lukewarm at best. I have limited exposure to distance ed programs beyond mine (Thomas Edison State College) and my husband's. (New England Culinary Institute). That said, I am not sure if TESC is .... what's the word.... "less" than I hoped, or if my experience has just been a string of minor blunders that could /do happen anywhere. Let me add that my husband's program is A+, I am very impressed with the level of organization and thought that went into the format. They use something called Moodle (spelling?) while TESC uses Blackboard.

    Phones- EVERY phone call is routed through admissions (except for a couple direct numbers I asked for). This means that if you make it past the first 10 minute hold session, you could still end up at a voice mail that is unable to transfer you to your next destination..... so you get to call admissions again! There is no (public) directory.

    Academic calender- The standard semester overlaps with the next (on my track) which puts me in the end of my first week of classes at the exact same time of my previous semester's final exams. Huh!?! Apparently everyone does this and it's never been a problem.

    Bursar- My invoice bills me for "guided study" courses, even though I am enrolled in "online courses." When asked, they told me it is "automatically" in the computer just to print guided study on everyone's bill no matter which course they choose. (my receipt at 7-11 clearly states "diet coke" and "coffee" you'd think my college could get IT involved)

    Mentor- Each and every one of my assignments were returned with the comments "thoughtful work" and the grade of 100%. Apparently I'm more awesome than I thought, so maybe I should just skip the pointless writing?

    Financial Aid- One lady and a mystery supervisor (that I am not 100% sure exists). Just for fun, please call and ask her a question, any question....I promise it will be worth it.

    Exams- I'm taking 2 exams with my proctor tomorrow (her only available slot due to surgery), and when I called TESC today to find out why they were STILL not in proctor's hands, he said they made a mistake and they didn't mail them. (either one!!) He said a batch didn't get mailed, and they are just realizing it because a bunch of students are calling. I would just have to work it out with my proctor. (and apologize for their error- and for the slot she made for me in her schedule- and beg her to give me a slot next week) When asked to send overnight mail, he said he couldn't do that. <sigh>

    Office hours- restrictive and limited. Some offices close at 3:30 EST!

    Technology- I've saved the best for last. I have classes that require me to purchase VHS tapes!! (this is not one class- this is many classes!) My husband's courses use streaming video, pod casts, audio books, DVDs, and downloaded videos... and I get to go to the thrift store and see if I can find a used VCR. I don't think I've had a VCR for 10 years... do they still make them? (we pay a $97 technology fee each semester!)

    OK, since I can be petty and critical...thoughts?
  2. Alex's Mom

    Alex's Mom New Member

    My journey to a college degree was long. Like many I dropped out after a year and a half in my youth. I plugged away doing night classes more than 20 years after high school. Then I came to a point I could not finish at night and enrolled at TESC. My experience with the school was wonderful. The communication was excellent and though I did not "know" the students and professors, I felt that I did. I learned a great deal and feel that I benefited from each class. In addition, my advisor was always available and always returned my calls or emails.

    I hope that the rest of your journey is at least as rewarding as mine was. Hang in there and good luck.

  3. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member

    First off, congratulations on reaching the end of your first semester! The journey of a thousand courses begins with a single CLEP, or something like that.

    You're experiencing frustration with the way your courses and program are run. Unfortunately, this is going to be the case no matter where you go. I graduated from the University of Wyoming's online program and recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who asks, but at the same time, there were times during the program when I wanted to rip my hair out and scream due to the glacial pace it took for administrators to make decisions, or for professors to return email or answer questions or whatever.

    Schools are bureaucracies, if nothing else. You probably get frustrated at the DMV, too. :rolleyes: However, if you are persistent and patient, you can usually almost always get what you want. My best advice to you is to cultivate a close personal relationship with your advisor. My advisor at UW was very helpful in cutting through red tape, checking on things for me, and just keeping the process rolling along. Of course, I spent a significant amount of time on the phone with her, making sure I was one of her priorities.

    TESC gets mixed reviews for customer service here, but to be honest, almost every school mentioned here with significant numbers of students gets mixed reviews for customer service. Some people go through the process of doing a distance degree and experience nary a hiccup, while others have nightmares of power failures during CLEP exams, lost transcripts, school closings, etc. Most people experience a little bit of hassle, but will tell you that the experience was worth it in the end. I suspect that your TESC experience will fall into this category. TESC is known for its flexibility, not its efficiency, and I would expect that their flexibility actually leads to inefficiency that results in the snags you've encountered. But if you want to be able to utilize testing and large amounts of coursework from multiple schools to assemble a very customized individual degree program, the Big 3 are basically the only game in town. Best of luck to you!
  4. cookderosa

    cookderosa Resident Chef

    My best advice to you is to cultivate a close personal relationship with your advisor. ...

    TESC gets mixed reviews for customer service here, but to be honest, almost every school mentioned here with significant numbers of students gets mixed reviews for customer service. ..

    Yes, you are right. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm feeling more calm now. I had a power failure during a quiz, a homework file isn't loading properly, and neither of my exams were mailed to me today-- I had a stressful day. I'll try to keep my eye on the forest.
  5. 4Q

    4Q New Member

    You sound unhappy and unimpressed. Find a school that makes you feel less miserable and go there. Viola!

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