• October 31, 2014

California Community Colleges End Controversial Deal With Kaplan U.

California's community-college system has canceled a controversial agreement that would have allowed students at some colleges to earn credit for discounted online courses at Kaplan University.

The 112-campus community-college system is severely overcrowded, and officials saw the November agreement as a way to make it easier for students to get classes they need. For Kaplan, the agreement promised a boost of credibility and a ready pool of new students, who would be able to take certain online courses at a 42-percent discount.

But at a time of intense scrutiny of for-profit colleges, the arrangement between the nation's largest public-college system and a prominent for-profit college drew complaints from faculty groups and others. Critics argued the system was endorsing Kaplan, and they said it could be difficult for students who transferred to the state's public universities to receive credit for Kaplan courses.

The agreement was more an idea than reality: In nine months, few colleges, if any, had cleared Kaplan courses for students to take for credit under the deal. In a letter last week canceling the agreement, a community-college official said the community colleges had failed to secure agreements with California State University and the University of California to automatically accept the Kaplan courses.

"Without these transfer agreements, the [agreement] could have a negative effect on students and the community-college system," Barry A. Russell, the system's vice chancellor for academic affairs, wrote to Kaplan's president.

In a written statement, Kaplan said it was disappointed by the system's decision. "We remain committed to providing a solution for students seeking to complete their programs on time," the statement says. "We will continue to foster relationships with California community colleges and to look for innovative ways to help students meet their academic and career goals."

A Bad Deal for Students?

Some who had criticized the agreement cheered the decision to cancel it, saying that even at a discount, the Kaplan courses were a bad deal for students. Community-college courses in California cost $26 per credit hour, the lowest in the country, while Kaplan's discounted courses would have cost about $216 per credit hour.

"It certainly is odd that a system that is so proud of its affordability and low fees would encourage students to pay $216 a credit," said Deborah Frankle Cochrane, program director at the Institute for College Access and Success.

The agreement was a smart business move by Kaplan, said Scott Lay, president of the Community College League of California, a lobbying group for the community-college system. The company intended to use its discounted price for online courses as a loss leader to make students familiar with Kaplan, he said.

But at the same time, many who work at community colleges were angered by the agreement, Mr. Lay said, especially where it coincided with a billboard campaign by Kaplan University's sister college, Kaplan College. The message of that campaign, aimed at attracting new students, essentially played down the quality of a community-college education, Mr. Lay said. (A Kaplan representative said the ads did not disparage community colleges, citing one ad that said, "Cuts in Education? Not at Kaplan College!")

Comments

1. wmartin46 - August 25, 2010 at 03:52 pm

> Community-college courses in California cost $26 per
> credit hour, the lowest in the country, while Kaplan's
> discounted courses would have cost about $216 per credit hour.

The CCCs (California Community Colleges) are heavily subsidized by the California Taxpayers, with precious little to show for the Taxpayers' billions and billions of dollars of "investment".

The CCCs "graduate" only about 15% of their enrollees to 4-year (oops .. make that 6-year) colleges and universities. So, from a taxpayer's point-of-view, "what's the point" of continuing to subsidize people who have neither the talent, nor the will, to succeed in the academic world.

What about the quality/availability of Kaplan courseware vs the CCs in-class presentations? If there were real problems with Kaplan, then perhaps this would be a good time to highlight those deficiencies. From what little information this article contains, it seems like "job security" is the only quibble from the CCCs.

Maybe this CCC-Kaplan deal was "bad for students", but the CCCs are a bad deal for taxpayers.

2. nacrandell - August 25, 2010 at 04:24 pm

"Community-college courses in California cost $26 per credit hour, the lowest in the country, while Kaplan's discounted courses would have cost about $216 per credit hour."

So the online courses cost more, are percieived to hold lesser value by corporate HR departments, and open the way to out source / off-shore teaching positions. And people wonder why the American economy is doing poorly?

3. ehmurray - August 25, 2010 at 09:46 pm

It's interesting that the the Institute for College Access and Success, through Deborah Frankle Cochrane, Program Director, advocates a position that reducess access to college and delays student success. The higher cost of the Kaplan credits is not disputed. It is well known that in a marketplace with scarcity, reduced prices (possibly due to regulation) lead to a reduced supply of the good in question. The quality of Kaplan's courses relative to those of the CCC system is unknown by me.

There are, as pointed out in the article, important issues, such as, but not limited to, articulation agreements, that must be worked out before such an arrangement can make sense.

4. lsalin - August 26, 2010 at 09:48 am

My state university has a large online program via BlackBoard, in addition to traditional college classes and hybrid web-assisted classes. This semester, I have 3 online classes each with over 100 students in them. While I use multiple-choice exams, I required intensive writing projects that are submitted and graded in BlackBoard. I use the BlackBoard in the same way for my hybrid class as well. While I prefer traditional classes, the reality is that I can reach more students using the online system, and have the capability to run online discussions, and blogs as well. If California's community college system is so overburdened, perhaps they should seriously consider online classes. In an online class the instructor can handle 3-4 times as many students in one class as they can in a traditional classroom, apply the same or a higher level of rigor to the classes, and perhaps increase graduation rates, as students take their classes at times that are convenient for them.

5. mindnbodybuilding - August 26, 2010 at 11:56 am

@wmartin46
>The CCCs "graduate" only about 15% of their enrollees

You (and others with the same mentality) would do well to remember that 'graduation' is not always the goal for many CC students. Research literature supports this!

>"what's the point" of continuing to subsidize people who have neither the talent, nor the will, to succeed in the academic world

This statement is profoundly insulting to all CC students, yet still I wonder on what evidence do you base the claim?

>From what little information this article contains, it seems like "job security" is the only quibble from the CCCs

Really? What about their concerns about a student's ability to transfer Kaplan credit to 4-years schools? Or the increasing numbers of students attending California CCs because of economic factors?

>the CCCs are a bad deal for taxpayers.

Seriously? How far out of touch are you with the reality of California's situation? Are you not aware of the cuts to enrollments at the CSU and UC systems as well as the increases in fees? Where do you think those students are going to go? To the CCc as can be seen by their growing enrollment numbers. I would venture a guess that many of those same 'taxpayers' who would have sent their sons and daughters to a 4-yr school without ever considering a CC are now thinking to themselves "Hmm...2 years of the same education but at a fraction of the cost". Sorry but at $26 per unit, the California CC is still a great deal for us taxpayers.

6. saraid - August 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

"The CCCs "graduate" only about 15% of their enrollees to 4-year (oops .. make that 6-year) colleges and universities. So, from a taxpayer's point-of-view, "what's the point" of continuing to subsidize people who have neither the talent, nor the will, to succeed in the academic world."

The purpose of the CCC is not to be a prep school for the ivory tower.

I mean, really. It's called a transfer; graduation is something else.

7. behaha - August 27, 2010 at 08:21 am

@wmartin46: Students who move to a four-year college don't "graduate." Be careful with statistics, especially when coupled with emotion.

8. ekamai - August 27, 2010 at 10:22 am

It's interesting that students continue to find pricey, private-sector alternatives so attractive. Even more curious is the failure of community college systems---and four-year schools---nationwide to meaningfully address the needs (desires? wishes? choices?) of 21st century students who want and are comfortable with the on-line experience. If CCs (and four-years) are going to remain afloat we're going to have to "smell the coffee" and stop debating whether online is "right" or "desirable" or "as good as" the campus experience. For many students, whose educational options are constrained by work (who's going to give up a job these days for school?), family obligations, etc. that train left the station years ago.

9. jkline - August 28, 2010 at 12:47 am

"It's interesting that students continue to find pricey, private-sector alternatives so attractive."

Who wouldn't find these attractive based on their marketing? Get a degree fast and earn more money. I just saw a Website for one of the for-profit aggregators that had a URL gotoschoolinyourPJs.com and said people with a degree earn a million dollars more in a lifetime. No data that students with dubious majors (CSI) from for-profit schools earn more, though.

"...nationwide to meaningfully address the needs (desires? wishes? choices?)"

This is the same argument that some administrators make. The student is our customer. Well they are...but they aren't a knowledgeable customer. They just want a degree. Reputable institutions of all types understand that a degree involves sacrifice. Otherwise, it wouldn't have any value.

"If CCs (and four-years) are going to remain afloat we're going to have to "smell the coffee"..."

Given that we transfer and graduate students and companies hire our grads, I don't see a problem. Literally hundreds of thousands are enrolled by for-profits. When they graduate they will have to compete against our grads (online or otherwise). Plus, they'll have $100,000 in debt for an AS degree. Word will get out that this convenience comes with a price.

This poster confuses for-profit and online. The two are not the same. Many reputable schools (non and for profit) deliver online education. But truthfully, do you want your nurse, Physical Therapist, mental health counselor or NASA launch director to have learned exclusively online? Didn't think so. So the market drives students to convenience. When the market shows they cannot compete with traditional school grads, the market will correct.

10. recruitme - September 02, 2010 at 02:42 am

Wow!! This is definitely a sign of the times. I have worked in the for-profit sector for about 9 years. How is it that the government that gives us the ability to be called an educational free country try to regulate what we do within that system? The majority of students that I have met in my career have all tried some college of some sort hence, TRIED!!! When you can find an environment that is so comfortable in your learning process that provides quality great customer service would you not want to be in that position as well? How many people on this comment section have electives that they did not need when you attended college? How many wished that the "COUNSELOR" had given them more time to sit down and go over the road map to their educational needs? My point is do a cost analysis of the time it would take you, if you do not go straight to college from high school of the money you have spent or not in going from job to job while trying to complete a 2 year degree in a 3 to 6 years time frame while providing for an already made family or yourself in today's economy. These schools make so much more sense for the right person. When education was proposed as a way to create Mathematicians and Scientist we did not see that artist, that care provider, that special person that it takes to get the job done correctly in career development. How many of you have a degree, but are not working in the field that you have a degree in? Again it works for the right type of person. In the definition of "Gainful Employment" What are the GOA's concerns truthfully? It's that fact that prospective students are tired of being neglected, told they are not smart enough, belittled, and criticized about how they do not have what it takes to make it in today's world. What we do in our schools are non judgmental, encouraging, and honestly heartfelt. Am I rich in cheating, lying, and manipulation? I am not at all! Am I a low person in this field? No! If it was not for people like me, many would be still wondering where they stood. At least for-profit schools give everyone an opportunity in this world, no discrimination at all. I attended a college fair with my 16 year old and one of the non-profit universities told the Parents and students how they would not be able to attend there university. My 19 year old, I gave a full Bachelor degree scholarship with no GPA, SAT requirements. It was an art college I was the Director at previously to where I am at now. He is a straight A, very artistic student. He is definitely the exception, but again my point is he had the opportunity. There is nothing wrong with hard work, and perseverance and a solid GPA. Everyone knows the U.S. Department of Education feels if they did it you should be able to right? Well sometimes we take different routes in life, some choose traditional and others think outside the box. It's time that our country realizes we have progressed to "Outside of the Box" attitudes. We do not necessarily want to live in your world of "My Forefather's did it this way, you should as well!" These choices are made freely by prospective students of for-profit schools, but you know what the most important parts are? If I attend a traditional college, the Federal government will pay me aid to attend, but if I attend a for-profit college the Federal Government pays for my education. That's rocket science in the mHave a nice day!! Wow!! This is definitely a sign of the times. I have worked in the for-profit sector for about 9 years. How is it that the government that gives us the ability to be called an educational free country try to regulate what we do within that systeThe majority of students that I have met in my career have all tried some college of some sort hence, TRIED!!! When you can find an environment that is so comfortable in your learning process that provides quality great customer service would you not want to be in that position as well? How many people on this comment section have electives that they did not need when you attended college? How many wished that the "COUNSELOR" had given them more time to sit down and go over the road map to their educational needs? My point is do a cost analysis of the time it would take you, if you do not go straight to college from high school of the money you have spent or not in going from job to job while trying to complete a 2 year degree in a 3 to 6 years time frame while providing for an already made family or yourself in today's economy. These schools make so much more sense for the right person. When education was proposed as a way to create Mathematicians and Scientist we did not see that artist, that care provider, that special person that it takes to get the job done correctly in career development. How many of you have a degree, but are not working in the field that you have a degree in? Again it works for the right type of person. In the definition of "Gainful Employment" What are the GOA's concerns truthfully? It's that fact that prospective students are tired of being neglected, told they are not smart enough, belittled, and criticized about how they do not have what it takes to make it in today's world. What we do in our schools are non judgmental, encouraging, and honestly heartfelt. Am I rich in cheating, lying, and manipulation? I am not at all! Am I a low person in this field? No! If it was not for people like me, many would be still wondering where they stood. At least for-profit schools give everyone an opportunity in this world, no discrimination at all. I attended a college fair with my 16 year old and one of the non-profit universities told the Parents and students how they would not be able to attend there university. My 19 year old, I gave a full Bachelor degree scholarship with no GPA, SAT requirements. It was an art college I was the Director at previously to where I am at now. He is a straight A, very artistic student. He is definitely the exception, but again my point is he had the opportunity. There is nothing wrong with hard work, and perseverance and a solid GPA. Everyone knows the U.S. Department of Education feels if they did it you should be able to right? Well sometimes we take different routes in life, some choose traditional and others think outside the box. It's time that our country realize we have progressed to "Outside of the Box" attitudes. We do not necessarily want to live in your world of "My Forefather's did it this way, you should as well!" These choices are made freely by prospective students of for-profit schools, but you know what the most important parts are? If I attend a traditional college, the Federal government will pay me aid to attend, but if I attend a for-profit college the Federal Government pays for my education. That's rocket science in the making. Have a nice day!!

11. enomsoft - September 15, 2010 at 04:14 am

its nice to been here

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