In Which I Drop Out of Capella University

For those of you who have been keeping up with me and my quest for knowledge, you know that I had been attending Capella University for my Master's in Human Services. I made the decision, however, to discontinue my education with the school because I was simply not pleased with the quality of instruction and course material that were provided at the institution.

I only took one class (and only just over half of it at that), so it's possible that my viewpoint is less founded than someone who has spent more time enrolled at the online school. I doubt it, though.

I'm going to start with the positives and then move onto the negatives later.

First, the online tools they give you - iGuide, Capella University Library, etc. - are really great tools, and they give students massive opportunity to read on their own and learn quite a lot without the aid or guidance of a professor.

Second, there is very little pressure as far as turning things in. There are setbacks to turning things in late (grade deductions, lack of feedback, etc.), but you don't feel like a crappy student for submitting an assignment a few hours late. Not only that, but if you simply communicate with your professor before the deadline that you're going to be late for a legitimate reason, a lot of times you'll get the deduction waived.

Third, online education is incredibly convenient. This may apply to more schools than Capella, but Capella does a really good job of incorporating a massive online pool of students and information as well as making it accessible to everyone at a pretty reasonable price (especially in comparison to other online degree programs). But in this case, it seems you get what you pay for as far as actual instruction goes.

Now for the negative aspects and my reasons as to why I chose to drop out.

Instead of listing out all of the problems I had one by one, I'm just going to write out my experience from day one with each of my grievances.

At first, I was really excited about getting my Master's. I had done a lot of research and believed that I had found a program that fit my needs exactly. Because I was in Korea, I needed an extremely flexible school that also moved through information quickly. Capella University appeared to fit the bill, so I enrolled.

The week-long orientation course was good, and it made me feel comfortable about starting my first class.

The first thing that threw me off was the required material for my first course. Written by Dr. Jeff Green, a professor and alumnus of Capella University, Graduate Savvy: Navigating the World of Online Higher Education spent the first few chapters convincing me that online education was a legitimate form of higher learning. Now, as someone who was already enrolled in an online course and was planning on seeing it through until I had a degree in my hand, I don't quite understand why it was necessary to educate me on the benefits of online education when I already did my research. If I had been concerned about whether or not taking school remotely was a good idea, I wouldn't have agreed to pay upwards of $20,000 for a fancy piece of paper. To add insult to injury, grammatical errors and misspellings were rife throughout the book even though it was the 2nd edition. I could understand typos for the 1st edition, but the 2nd? Nope. Get your crap together and get a good editor.

The next warning sign came when, after the first 3 weeks of class, my teacher was spending more time critiquing my classmates' adherence to APA style requirements in their submissions instead of actually having a conversation about the material we were discussing. I am willing to give people a break, especially those who are returning to school after a long hiatus. As someone who grew up on MLA style, having to convert to APA was not easy, but there are multiple tools available online to make sure that an assignment meets the requirements. Heck, there are even sites that will format things for you. You don't have to think about anything. Just plug and play. With all of these tools, however, my classmates were still struggling bigtime. They weren't even writing in 3rd person (to be discussed later).

Around the same time, we had a large project due - a research paper - and we each were supposed to get individualized responses about the topic we chose. The response to my paper?

I'm impressed that you could write in third person so well. 
You are a good writer. 
Job well done.

It wasn't about my topic, but about a skill that I should have had when I was a Freshman in High School. There was no discourse about the comments I had made in my 10-page paper. I got high marks, but I had nothing other than a grade to show for it. So dumb.

Then the final straw came that broke the camel's back. I received a notification from Capella that my professor had sent an email to the whole class and that I needed to log in to read it. So log in I did, and much to my dismay she had written a long email about how it seems that the majority of the class does not know how to use commas appropriately. She ended the email by adding a link to a Capella-run site about the proper use of a comma.

I give up.
So that was it. That week, I discontinued my enrollment, and I am postponing my Master's degree until a later time.

Am I nuts? Does it seem like complete insanity to assume that graduate level students have basic writing skills such as writing in third person and using commas as they should be? Or am I expecting too much of my fellow peers? What would you have done in my position?


P.S. In the past month or so, I have also been exploring other career options for myself, and it seems that I might be going to school for medicine! I'll write a blog post about it later.


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