University of the People Student here.

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by ad_astra, Jun 1, 2015.

  1. ad_astra

    ad_astra New Member

    Hi, I decided to return to college after a long time away. I attended college but did not finish in the nineties. There was a big rush to hire people in IT with certs and experience, so I dropped out. Basically I am back to school since last year, for completion sake, and I like the kind of world experiment going on at UoPeople. Paying nothing but testing fees, which my employer is reimbursing anyway, is a nice plus.

    I am just curious if there are any other fellow students of UoPeople out there.
  2. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    We've had some discussions about the University of the People. There have been some mixed feelings about the school and part of that is partly due to not having a member to report from inside the school. I'm moving this thread to the General forum to promote discussion. Here's a link to the school

    University of the People

    and to some previous discussions
  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    My own early mixed feelings have been soothed by their having become more transparent. In the beginning it wasn't even possible to tell out of which country they were operating. Now those things are clear, they have accreditation, etc. That makes a big difference.
  4. ad_astra

    ad_astra New Member

    Yes, they operate out of California. The teachers are from around the world, however. Sorry for the late reply. I did not realize the thread had been moved. I am currently going to take a proctored final today.

    Positives for me have been the first couple of programming classes. I have learned a bit, and they've been challenging.

    As far as negatives, I suppose my biggest complaint would be the peer review system. It is rather harsh and while you can forward complains, and they are addressed, it does seem a bit unrealistic to put people into a situation where little napoleons can damage your gpa. I don't know if that is a problem in other schools or not, but for some assignments, such as discussions, peer review is critical.
  5. New Member

    That's not entirely correct. They just have a PO box in California, but their administrative staff live in Israel.

    Incidentally, some people are protesting because of their misleading advertising: they claim to be a "tuition free" college, while they actually adopt a new business model based on installments ($100 for each exam).

    See also Ripoff Report | University of the People Complaint Review Internet: 1234282
    where the employee didn't manage to refute the report.
  6. New Member

    Well, today, most people think they operate from the US… In theory it's true (their PO box is in California) but in practice they are in Israel, apart from the teachers, who might be anywhere.

    er… :wink:

    True, they have accreditation, though schools might not accept transfer credits from UoPeople, since it's not regionally accredited.

    A friend of mine is a student and she's almost done. They let you pass as many exams as possible, so you will pay the installments. She said most students are from Africa and/or southern Asia. Some don't even speak English, or they do pretty badly.
  7. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    That needs a bit of a touch-up. Many schools will accept credits from nationally accredited schools. Plus, there are thousands of nationally accredited schools that will of course accept credits from other nationally accredited schools like UoPeople.
  8. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    My point is that for those who are keen to know which jurisdiction is overseeing the institution, this is now clear, no "er" about it. As for where the faculty members are, of course they might be anywhere, but that simply means they can draw their faculty members from the whole planet rather than just from one city. There would only be disadvantage to all concerned for them not to do so, which is why it's become a common practice.

    UotP isn't designed for students who have Harvard as an option, it's designed for students whose choice is between UotP and nothing. For that purpose DEAC is a meaningful signal of academic quality. Transfer and postgraduate options may not be as broad, but they're hardly absent.

    And that's as expected, since UotP's goal is to make a difference where it's most needed.

    It's possible to speak English poorly yet understand it as a language of instruction. This is especially the case with asynchronous learning since one can review text or video repeatedly and ask others for clarification of unknown terms. I've worked for more than one school where the preponderance of students were non-native speakers of English, and it's impressive how far determination can take them.
  9. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I would also note that a student studying Computer Science is in a different position from a student studying say, literature.

    It's quite possible (and quite common) for a person to be a very gifted coder, to work with other gifted coders (with differing primary languages) and be able to work effectively in a world of code. One's ability to communicate in a language may be less developed than their ability to understand that language, particularly when the spoken language is really only used to communicate expectations to be expressed through programming (in the context of a project).

    I say this because I've had software developers who didn't speak English very well (and who people erroneously believed had a poor "grasp" of English). Yet they were outstanding members of their teams.

    At UofS I had one classmates who was from Spain and spoke pretty poor English. However, his comprehension was clearly much higher than his ability to communicate as he did exceptionally well on objective exams (he did struggle with essays but this improved drastically over his first semester).

    Business degrees are a mixed bag. But if you are sporting a degree in CS, my opinion is that your alma mater matters much less than your portfolio or other provable skill in terms of securing employment. I've hired software engineers without any degree at all, degrees in the humanities and with associates degrees for bachelors required positions.

    I don't think of University of the People very often. But if one of their graduates can develop software then they would stand a decent chance in a job interview (at least at my company). But then again, we have a pretty favorable policy toward NA engrained in our written policies.
  10. New Member

    "which jurisdiction is overseeing it" is a different concept…

    You are right about the jurisdiction — simply because the PO box is in California — but they are operating from Israel (previously, you were talking about "operating").
  11. New Member

    well, I said that they "might not" accept, not that they "must not" accept. Anyway, I totally agree with the last part, while I doubt that "many schools" will certainly accept credits from UoPeople… the reality is, there is no guarantee.
  12. New Member

    That's my hope too, but I also hope they won't make a difference by having them pay too many installments…
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  14. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I've been seeing a fair number of defenses of a "traditional, residential four year liberal arts education."

    Indeed, I don't think that one is wrong to pursue that course.

    But I think that spending four years living at a university with 1-2 years spent actually studying a set discipline is possibly not the best approach for certain disciplines, in terms of preparation for entering the workforce.

    So I think schools like UofP are stepping into a role that was previously filled by career colleges. Many of which, historically, served their purpose very well.

    The difference seems to be that the career colleges from days of yore used to be able to help graduates meet their goals by awarding an Associates degree. Now, so many graduates need a bachelors degree to compete in their desired field that the new age career schools have to offer a bachelors, at least.

    I think that the traditional B&M universities didn't mind career colleges because they were offering a separate credential. Career schools previously only really competed against the community colleges. Now, they are slapping on the name "University" and taking business away from the traditional B&Ms and people are getting nervous.
  15. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

    I don't know that people are getting "nervous" but it seems that many traditional universities are realizing that they are involved in a evolutionary step in higher education and there is a competitive aspect to it. UMass can not assume that they are the go-to school for a large segment of the Massachusetts population anymore because increasingly people are aware that they have many online choices and that it's even conceivable they could attend for less money. In response schools are establishing new DL programs. The rate of growth of new programs has slowed and there is beginning to be more attention paid to quality of content and delivery. I will be mildly surprised if a school like Amherst ever puts up an online degree program. Courses, yes. A whole degree program, no. They seem to want to occupy that niche of small liberal arts college with a huge price tag that focuses on teaching and providing a certain sort of life/education experience. I don't think they feel threatened by UMass' online programs because those kids weren't going to go to Amherst anyway.
  16. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    You're always going to have people who want to attend Smith College or Yale or any number of colleges with solid reputations. And those people are going to be willing to attend even with (or perhaps, in part, because of) the huge price tag and the sense of exclusivity.

    But the majority of colleges can't really pull that off.

    Penn State has had online programs for a while. But Penn State is one of the most accessible state university systems I've seen.

    In Pennsylvania, there are PSU campuses scattered all over the place. Wilkes-Barre had one (actually it was in nearby Dallas, PA). Scranton had one. And Hazleton had one. You had to drive absolutely no further than a half hour to hit a PSU campus even though the Main Campus is in State College.

    PSU wants its programs to be available to everyone no matter where they live. Pre-internet, that was largely limited to Pennsylvania. In this age, it means they can reach a student in Malaysia with the same ease as a student in New Jersey.

    But not all schools want to be accessible and not all schools need a massive influx of students.

    Nobody is sitting down trying to decide between Amherst and the Neuhaus Career Institute of Syracuse. If you are Amhert bound then the Neuhaus Institute isn't even on your radar.

    But there are a lot of schools that, in my opinion, have been sort of cashing in on having the word "university" appear on their signage. They attract local people. They award OK degrees. They have decent, but certainly not exceptional, professors. And they're facilities evoke a response of "meh" from visitors who have been to better campuses.

    They're the Chevy Aveo of universities. It feels good. And if you've never driven a better car then you don't really know what you're missing.

    Then along comes the former career schools who are now calling themselves "universities." Uh oh. All of the sudden people realize we actually suck more than a Yaris (Best slogan ever: "It's a car.").

    They're being attacked from both sides. Lesser schools are now calling themselves universities and attacking their market share from below. Schools of higher prestige are offering online programs and seizing market share from above. And the other Aveo Universities of the world are attacking them at their own level.

    What I like about online education is that it levels the playing field in many ways. Mediocre schools now have to actually do something to justify their zero ROI degrees. They can't rely solely on the convenience of their physical location to put butts in seats. Heck, they can't even tout their leafy quads and bespectacled professors as selling points any more because the school with the 37 year old tech entrepreneur (who wears jeans to class and had LASIK) teaching MBA courses is pulling in people left and right.

    Times are a changin' and schools are going to need to put up, step up or shut up (or, more likely, shut down).

    University of the People has a hook. It seems to be appealing to some. And I have to give props to their marketing folks. Because they have been really rocking their branding as a "free" university (that you have to pay for if you want credits or degrees). Good for them.

    Personally, I feel like the UoPeople model would integrate well into a MOOC provider (as has been proposed by other universities). The idea of an easy to enroll, pay-as-you-go, get-it-free-if-you-don't-need-the-paper learning platform is clever. But it's fairly new in the grand scheme of higher ed.

    UPeople isn't going to lure people away from Cornell or MIT.

    Buuuuuuut it could start tempting people away from the local computer training center or community college. So there are plenty of others who are going to need to either change their way of thinking and doing or find a new line of work.
  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator

  18. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Interesting article. Also, it is interesting how expensive genuine accreditation of any kind is.
  19. DonaDiabla

    DonaDiabla New Member

    Actually, I would say that University of the people was a major option for me at one time in my life but I have since went to American Military university. Personally, I do not like the whole peer review thing or how super fast pact the classes can be. But it is a great option for people who do not have any options for college.
  20. ad_astra

    ad_astra New Member

    Ended up calling it quits with UoPeople. The quality of the teaching fluctuates too much for me. The class "texts" are abominable. The peer review system is broken and there does not seem to be a method or interest to fix it.

    I still respect what University of the People are trying to do. If you are from a country that automatically gets free scholarship, that's great, though realistically the $100 per class testing fee isn't all that much cheaper than taking Straighterline courses and CLEP/DSST at the big three. The fact that they do not accept any transfer credits from other nationally accredited or regionally accredited institutions is a bit troubling too. My guess is that they haven't the staff or processes in place for it.

    Myself, I just started my process for going to COSC. I should have done that, anyway. My UoPeople credits will not transfer, but most of them were reimbursed by my employer, and I don't feel it is too much lost time. I'll have my degree in the same time than if I had went through with UoPeople.

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