USC and 2U Social Work Program

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by sanantone, Nov 12, 2021.

  1. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    For some reason, these graduate students thought it would be smart to take out $100k to $200k in loans to become social workers. I have some opinions on this.

    1. Lowering standards and the targeted recruiting tactics are to be expected when you hire a for-profit company to run your degree programs.

    2. I find it hard to believe these people with bachelor's degrees didn't know how much money social workers make.

    3. Google is your friend. CSWE has a list of online social work programs, and most of them are cheaper than USC. USC's ranking dropped about 10+ spots years ago, so they're not even worth the price tag, but it's not like ranking matters in this field anyway.

    4. In my opinion, if you're going to drop graduate admissions tests, then you need to look at grades. If you're going to excuse bad grades due to possible extenuating circumstances, then you should require test scores. They were only requiring a 2.5 GPA and raised the minimum to 3.0 on the last 60 credits.
    smartdegree likes this.
  2. smartdegree

    smartdegree Active Member

    I read the article. Interesting that 2U is responsible for admitting subpar candidates and providing a "degree mill" experience. And that's just one example of 2U's cash cow model. They have the same arrangement with a lot of schools. I think 2U operates the $100+k UC Davis MBA as well. I guess that program will accept everyone at that price. Will probably be easier to get into than U of Phoenix LOL.

    This is probably just the beginning. With 2U and edX now joining forces, good luck to everyone suckered into a new era of "prestigious" degree mills. I hate to say it but this will only result in prolonging the skepticism on online degree programs no matter who offers it.
  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    One would think it would sour more people on paying six figures for a degree than on the mode of instruction used to earn it.
    smartdegree and Maniac Craniac like this.
  4. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    Unfortunately, I've seen no shortage of people on social media saying that this USC fiasco proves that online education is inherently inferior to in-person education and/or that all online schools are diploma mills. Literally, all of them.

    I have a permanent solution to this problem, however- never going on social media again.

    (It was only due to the WSJ paywall that I ended up looking this story up on social media anyway. It was such a rotten experience that I might was well just buy the damn paper next time.)
  5. smartdegree

    smartdegree Active Member

    I hear you, but there is more at play here than the mode of instruction.

    Objectively speaking, the quality of students drop significantly for online programs within the same university. It seems as if universities use online programs as pure cash cows because they are not so visible to the public. But if you look at the numbers, the gap is very obvious.

    I looked at USC's MBA full-time program vs online program admissions statistics:

    Full Time
    Acceptance rate: 24%
    Average GMAT: 716
    Average GPA: 3.6

    Online MBA
    Acceptance rate: 65%
    Average GMAT: 618 (only 28% sent a GMAT, others had it waived)
    Average GPA: 3.1

    The quality of the online MBA program class is clearly not the same. You can make the case that these are 2 different programs altogether even though they both graduate with a USC MBA. The only thing that's the same is that both groups probably paid the same tuition LOL.

    When recruiters continuously notice these differences across all universities (where online is the black sheep), then the perception of online will always remain as second-class, even within the same prestigious university. It has nothing to do with the mode of instruction but how universities "abuse" their own online programs in terms of generating revenue. It is much easier to "hide" selectivity in online programs because they are not really required to report those numbers vs their prestige on-campus programs (like undergrad or full-time MBA) that get a lot of media attention.
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  6. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    The quality of your classmates can affect the quality of your experience, especially if you're expected to do group projects and have discussions. However, I'd be more concerned about what is being taught and what the grading standards are. If 2U is lowering standards, you're not getting the same level of education you'd get on campus. I'd avoid any online program run by a third party company.
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  7. smartdegree

    smartdegree Active Member

    I could argue that a 2U-run degree is not really the same as the degree offered by the university directly. They're doing what a lot of UK schools are doing (franchising their degrees by accrediting private entities to offer their degrees). But at least in the UK, they are up-front about what they're doing and everyone knows what's going on. Those degrees are also priced at a discount compared to the regular university degree offerings.

    For 2U-run programs, it is not obvious to applicants --- it seems very sneaky to me.
  8. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    The FTC can regulate the for-profit companies, such as 2U. A disclaimer should be required for every program not run by the college or university. At least the viewers of this board can look at this and know to ask these schools if a particular program is offered through 2U.

    On a related note, I once contacted Arizona State University about a program, and they couldn't connect me to a program advisor/coordinator or professor in the program who could answer my specific questions. Normally, the program advisor and his or her email address is listed on a college's website. Or, you can fill out a form, and they will send your contact info to the program advisor. ASU couldn't even do that.
    Maniac Craniac likes this.
  9. smartdegree

    smartdegree Active Member

    For those who can't access WSJ, somebody on Reddit posted a paywall-free mirror:

    Anyway these are excerpts on how degree mill-ish the program is:
    • Several USC graduates said they were surprised to get into USC’s social-work program when they were rejected from public universities. Among them was Jalen Prayer, who said she was waitlisted in 2018 at California State University, Fullerton but accepted by USC. “You think of USC as one of those schools where rich people go or geniuses go,” said Ms. Prayer, who said she had roughly a 2.55 GPA as an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University. Because of low grades, she began USC on academic probation, she said, but graduated this year with a 3.74 GPA.
    CSU Fullerton>>Argosy University>>>>> USC. LOL
    SteveFoerster likes this.

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