Tag Archive: University of Phoenix


After at least four years of more lectures, labs, study groups, readings, papers and presentations than you would ever care to count, the prospect of taking up to another 18 months to attain a master’s degree or maybe even four years to earn a Ph.D is a prospect most graduating seniors would rather not even think about.

And yet the question still persists for some: Should you seriously consider taking the advanced degree plunge right here and now following graduation? Consider that even more employers are requiring advanced degrees; many want MBAs.

Before answering this perplexing interrogative: Consider the unmistakable NFW response by the author of Almost DailyBrett in 1978. Yours truly had just received his bachelor’s in Broadcasting Journalism from the University of Southern California. There was simply no way when it came to the question of signing up for even more college.

I was done, thank you very much.

Looking back at that easy-and-yet momentous decision, your author now regrets not pursuing a master’s degree right then and there, when he was as free as a bird … no spouse, no kidlet, no mortgage, no car payment … absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were right in Stairway to Heaven: “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

A confluence of events in my life (i.e., widowerhood, adult daughter, real estate appreciation, fellowship) gave me that one-last-chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2010 to pursue my master’s degree in mid-life at the University of Oregon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was very fortunate, very fortunate indeed.

Died and Went to Heaven

When the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication offered me a fellowship, your author jumped at the opportunity in two nanoseconds or less.

You should do the same, if you are selected for an on-campus fellowship at a R1 university.

Becoming a Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF) provides the following benefits:

  1. An absolutely free master’s degree or Ph.D … yep no-instate or better yet, no out-of-state or private school tuition;
  2. Medical, dental and vision health care benefits for at least the fellow, and maybe the whole family as well;
  3. A stipend of $1,000 or more per month;
  4. Invaluable teaching experience as a teaching assistant to a professor.

As Almost DailyBrett wrote before, I appreciated this unbelievable deal and thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was perplexing to say the least when the University of Oregon GTFs went on strike in 2014 … Patience, Kevin. Patience. Let’s not get started on this subject again.

Some have asked: Should I take an online master’s degree or Ph.D? My short answer is nein.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in public relations, marketing, journalism, broadcast, film etc., it is best to be on campus to directly interact with your colleagues and Ph.D professors. Sorry to say, file sharing and texting just don’t cut it.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in accounting, an online program may be appropriate. Having said that, communications requires – face-to-face interaction and diplomacy – no online program can help you advance these interpersonal story telling skills.

What about the necessary evil? The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?

Brace yourself and come to full acceptance mode as quickly as possible. Any graduate school worth its salt (sorry University of Phoenix, that designation does NOT apply to you), particularly a Research One or R1 university, will require the GRE.

Your author took it twice, the second time after a prep course, and lived to talk about it. Take the prep course and do as well as possible on the GRE.

What About Grad School?

“No one does bull shit better than you.” – A compliment from one of my USC fraternity brothers

Trust me, bull shit does not work in Pro Seminar.

The two-night-per week, three-hours per class, was the most intense review of communications philosophy one can imagine (i.e., Kant, Marx, Althusser, Descartes, Hegel, Le Bon …). Don’t even think about going to class without doing the reading; you can’t hide in plain sight for three hours. Don’t even think about B.S.- ing a full professor with a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

And once you have navigated the benign sounding, but mind-numbing Pro Seminar class with its up-to-five hours per night of reading, you will be ready for … qualitative and quantitative analysis in the next quarter.

Sounds horrible? Right?

In reality, pursuing a graduate degree was an incredible and rewarding challenge. It soon dawned on me that I was only using a mere fraction of my brain. I made some great friends as well.

One of my profs said: “We are working on your intellectual growth.”

Intellectual growth? Me? Really?

Oh, did I mention that my master’s degree was an absolute prerequisite for landing a tenure track professorship in public relations and advertising at Central Washington University? Guess, learning about Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperatives was well worth it.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/taking-the-gre-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/did-a-perfect-storm-lead-to-the-gathering-storm/

 

 

Sometimes we are too quick to fast-forward, skip, turn-down or mute the sound when inevitable ads intrude into our lives.

We have all seen way-too-many-times-to-count the AFLAC Duck, Flo for Progressive, the Sprint dude and/or the AT&T dudette. We could almost scream.

fitzgeraldbachelor

And then every blue moon there is that one special ad, which makes us sit up, think deeply and maybe even brings a tear to the eye. And that very same ad may change the way we think about a given firm or a marketed product.

The University of Phoenix has major PR problems. The online college only graduates 17.5 percent of its enrollees. It charges an eye-opening $9,812 in tuition. Way too many former students have zero degrees, but they are saddled in thousands of dollars of debt (estimated $493 million total). Some CEOs believe that for-profit colleges are simply selling degrees, and their diplomas are not worth the fancy paper in which they are printed.

These are tough charges and allegations. And there lies the origin of perceived and real public relations issues for the University of Phoenix.

University of Phoenix stadium, site of this years Super Bowl.

University of Phoenix Stadium.

The University of Phoenix has the resources to have its name adorned on the stadium of the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Arizona. Which brings us to wide receiver Larry Darnell Fitzgerald, Jr., #11 of the Cardinals.

There is also no doubt that Fitzgerald will be enshrined in Canton. In his 12 years with the Arizona Cardinals, he has caught more than 1,000 passes for more than 13,000 yards and 101 touchdowns. The team came one eyelash from winning Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.

Bachelor of Science in Communication, 2016

And yet there is more to the Larry Fitzgerald story, much more. It concerns a promise to his mom. His mother, Carol, passed away from breast cancer in 2003. The two were not speaking to each other, which he now regrets.

Nonetheless, he remembered his promise. He opted for the NFL draft after only two seasons with the Pittsburgh Panthers. Despite all the fame and the reported $20 million contract, something was missing in his life, a college degree.

namathgrad

Maybe knowing it or not, he was following in the footsteps of some very famous “non-traditional” students: Joe Namath (Alabama), Isiah Thomas (Indiana) and Shaquille O’Neal (LSU) … and just this year, Larry Fitzgerald.

Namath finished his degree 42 years after leaving Tuscaloosa. Thomas fulfilled his commitment made in a legal contract drawn up by his mother, Mary, attaining his college degree from Indiana University. It was nearly a quarter-of-a-century between Shaquille departing LSU and receiving his degree.

What fascinates Almost DailyBrett is the drive that still exists for a few celebrity athletes, who have reached the top of their game and attained the enviable position of being financially set for life, who realize something is missing in their life – the satisfaction of a college degree.

Your author teaches at Central Washington University, which will never be confused with Harvard and Stanford. Having said that, it is exciting to realize how many of our students will be the first in their family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and how many are “non-traditional” – beyond, sometimes way beyond, the traditional 18-24-year age range for most college students.fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald is a non-traditional student. Maybe the fact that University of Phoenix is primarily online made going back to college a little bit easier from an awkwardness standpoint. Something tells Almost DailyBrett that Fitzgerald is very comfortable in his own skin. Still he needed to fulfill his promise to his deceased mom.

Fitzgerald dials his mom’s landline and hears her voicemail greeting. He wants to appreciate her voice yet again. He then tells his mom he kept his promise, he graduated (the University of Phoenix diploma hangs on the wall). He loves her.

The fact that he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication brings a smile to the face of the author of Almost DailyBrett. The simple-and-effective “We Rise” tagline works from a marketing and branding standpoint.

There is no doubt that Larry Fitzgerald rose above the inclination to eternally procrastinate, to settle into a comfortable life, and to not fulfill his promise.

Thank you University of Phoenix and Larry Fitzgerald for telling this wonderful story. Hopefully, more than 29 percent of our population will be inspired to attain their bachelor’s degrees or even more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fWLmf1O8oQ

http://www.larryfitzgerald.com/

http://www.phoenix.edu/

http://www.phoenix.edu/partners/larry-fitzgerald.html?intcid=mktg-home-page:hero:banner:top

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/11/sports/thomas-keeps-promise-to-mom.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.foxnews.com/story/2007/12/15/football-great-joe-namath-earns-college-degree-42-years-later.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/story?id=100078&page=1

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/07/09/these-20-schools-are-responsible-for-a-fifth-of-all-graduate-school-debt/?tid=sm_fb 

 

“As well as teaching, examining and certification, college education creates social capital. Students learn how to debate, present themselves, make contacts and roll joints. How can a digital college experience deliver all of that?” – The Economist, The Future of Universities; The Digital Degree, June 28, 2014

After spending 16 years in Silicon Valley, the author of digital communications blog, Almost DailyBrett, and social media evangelist, fully gets it when it comes to destructive technologies.

Social, mobile and cloud have changed the world as we can self-publish and exchange views via the Internet to anyone around the globe instantaneously on a 24/7/365 basis.

When it comes to drinking the cyber Kool-Aid, there is one area in which I am pushing back and displaying a healthy dose of skepticism, not cynicism: teaching public relations online, particularly advanced courses.onlinegraduate

Couldn’t help but note the web ad for Ball State University (Muncie, Indiana), championing its only PRSA-certified graduate level PR program, about earning a master’s degree in public relations online. Check out the Ball State website language:

“Our online students have ongoing interaction with their instructors and classmates via e-mail, discussion boards, file sharing, online chats, web page posting, and other communications. These courses are typically taught asynchronously—meaning you can log on for class participation whenever you wish.”

My issues pertain to the incongruity of  (presumably human) “interaction” with the words, “online discussion boards, file sharing, online charts, web page posting, and other communications.” That doesn’t sound very touchy, feely to little ole me.

Making Love … Online?

Let’s get straight to the point: Can you make love online? … Real “From Here to Eternity” physical contact between two hormone-driven, amorous individuals? File sharing may fall a little short, when it comes to the real thing.eternitybeach

Now let’s take the discussion to the next logical step: Public relations is working with … target publics. Right? It is stakeholder relations. It is working in teams. It is making in-person presentations. It is motivating the public to take a favorable action that benefits your employer or your client. These are living-breathing human-to-living-breathing human interactions

There is little doubt that you can teach theory (i.e., Agenda Setting, Uses and Gratifications, Hierarchy of Needs, Diffusion of Innovation, Two-Way Asymmetrical, Two-Way Symmetrical) in the classroom, so why can’t you do that online? You can.

The same applies to ethics including responsible advocacy, honesty, guarding against copyright and/or trademark infringement, protecting intellectual property, and taking steps to avoid slander, libel and/or defamation. Yes, we can teach them all online.

In fact, I should come clean and tell you right now that I am indeed teaching online COM 270 Introduction to Public Relations and COM 280 Advertising Fundamentals, using Panopto recordings, Canvas and old-fashioned email at Central Washington University this summer. CWU’s School of Education this week was honored for its online teaching of School Administration master’s level curricula. As Martha would say, “This is a good thing.”

Where I am getting off the bus comes to the absence of eyeball-to-eyeball (Skype or FaceTime are not the same) human communication associated with online-only curricula. Sure, it may work wonders for more reclusive disciplines, such as statistics, accounting, software code writing, but when it comes to qualitative interplay with target audience Homo sapiens that needs to be done face-to-face. And that’s where online teaching falls short … it just has too.alonetogether3

Grading, Not Teaching? 

In my last few years in Silicon Valley, your author remembers the opinions of C-level publicly traded technology executives pontificating and bloviating that online schools were essentially degree factors, selling diplomas for a King’s ransom.

The Washington Post recently reported about the 20 colleges with one-fifth of all the federal student loan debt in the 2013-2014 academic year. Number one was online superstar, Walden College at $756 million. University of Phoenix was second at $493 million; Capella University was sixth at $399 million and Kaplan University was #13 at $226 million.

These numbers represent serious student loan debt and what are these mostly online students getting in return? Are the faculty at these institutions merely grading or are they actually teaching?

Another concern that comes to mind is the recent book by M.I.T. professor Sherry Turkle, “Alone Together: What We Expect From Technology and Less From Each Other.” Her main points pertain to the literally hundreds of thousands, who are in physical proximity with other humans, but their full attention is on their mobile devices. Some even sit in restaurant tables, pay attention to their smart phones,  ignoring their dinner companion(s).alonetogether1

Successful public relations professionals must be knowledgeable and practiced in digital communications – blogging, social media, websites, images, video, infographics – and must be adroit enough to adopt the next round of destructive technologies … they are out there. We must know them all.

Having made this point, we still must interact with people. We need people. We need to see the look on their faces. We need to see the reaction in their eyes. We need to deduce the inflection of their voices. We need to experience first-hand their culture.

This is the essence of public relations.

There must be a real face time component, when it comes to teaching and mentoring.

Online is good, but not good enough. 

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21605899-staid-higher-education-business-about-experience-welcome-earthquake-digital

http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2015/02/27/4-questions-to-ask-before-enrolling-in-a-for-profit-online-program

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2015/07/09/these-20-schools-are-responsible-for-a-fifth-of-all-graduate-school-debt/?tid=sm_fb 

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21646986-online-learning-could-disrupt-higher-education-many-universities-are-resisting-it-not

http://www.cwu.edu/cwu-online-education-master%E2%80%99s-programs-rated-among-best-country

http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/collegesanddepartments/journalism/graduateprograms/mapublicrelations

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/the-rebirth-of-pettiness-the-death-of-conversation/

 

 

 

Many in academia and elsewhere lament economic inequality.

In fact, these same individuals are known to call for “social justice.”

The redistribution devil is in the details. Tax the rich s’il vous plait?

Wish it was just that easy.

Maybe we should all look in the mirror instead?

mirror

 

Three of the Biggest Factors for Economic Inequality

There are at least three major determinants, one potentially leading to another, when it comes to monetary disparity

1. Graduating from a real college or university

2. Securing admission to the best anti-poverty program of all: A well-paying private sector job with customary benefits

3. Investing in high-growth stocks and/or mutual funds

Come to think of it, these three contribute mightily to the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

According to Pew Research and reported by Andrew Kelly in his “Let’s Clarify The ‘College is Worth It’ Conversation” for Forbes, the disparity between those with bonified college degrees (e.g., BA or BS) and those with only as associate’s degree or worse, just a high school degree, has never been greater.

The record spread between those with bachelor’s degrees and those with associate’s is $15,500 annually, and $17,500 between the college grads and high school grads. The gap becomes staggering when multiplied over an anticipated 40-year career (that makes the big assumption that the AA or HS grad is still working – and not involuntarily put out to pasture — four decades later).

Without any further appreciation of the gap between the college graduate and her or his associates or high school peers, the 40-year disparity is $620,000 and $700,000 respectively. That’s big-time dinero even in this somewhat inflationary economy.

Certainly there is no guarantee that a bachelor’s degree leads to a moderate-to-high five-figure job, let alone to a six-figure position. In fact, many employers are now requiring master’s degrees or another two years of schooling. One point is certain; a bachelor’s degree is a ticket to compete for white-collar positions, something that an associate’s degree or high school diploma in virtually all cases does not provide.gradsandduck

And with the tough-to-attain, even-with-a-bachelor’s degree white-collar job, comes in most cases a salary, medical-dental-vision benefits and maybe participation in a company ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Plan) or stock option program. Contemplate that we are not just talking about a salary, but discretionary resources that most likely will vault way above the present rate of inflation.

Investing Discretionary Income

Someone living paycheck-to-paycheck or worse sinking further into debt cannot conceive of discretionary income. They are just trying to make ends meet. Way-too-many Americans have nothing saved for retirement, and are one catastrophic event away from personal bankruptcy.

For those with bachelor’s degrees or above from reputable colleges and universities (sorry University of Phoenix; buying a degree doesn’t count), they can compete for well-paying private sector positions with benefits. They have resources to invest, and invest they do.

According to the Gallup Organization, 87 percent of upper-income Americans — those making $75,000 or more annually — own stocks, as do 83 percent of postgraduates and 73 percent of college graduates.

And what is a common-characteristic of “upper-income Americans”? A bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree. And which group commands the lion’s share of those who purchase equities and participate in our bull markets? Graduates and postgraduates.gender6

Are students being taught the tenets of capitalism at our leading colleges and universities? Maybe or maybe not. Are they figuring out that buying low and selling high with discretionary income is a proven way to build wealth? That appears to be the case.

Should they be required to redistribute the fruits of their long-hours in the classroom and their accomplishments at the workplace, thus reducing the amount they can invest in entrepreneurs?

There may be a professor or two, who thinks that is a swell idea.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/akelly/2014/05/31/lets-clarify-the-college-is-worth-it-conversation/

http://www.icifactbook.org/fb_ch6.html

http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/09/investing/american-stock-ownership/

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147206/Stock-Market-Investments-Lowest-1999.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_inequality

Maybe the dreams of so many will finally be realized.

Instead of the detested Bowl Championship Series (BSC), there really will be a playoff system to determine the national champion. DeVry University will play Capella University in one national semifinal and in the other the Ashford University will take on Kaplan University. The winner will play for all the marbles in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

GlenDale AZ

Sounds a little far-fetched? Right? Wonder if the management of Borders really ever appreciated the nature of the sinister threat to its bricks-and-mortar business model by Amazon and its unique ability to serve the “long tail.”

The local and regional newspapers with their 20th Century dependency on classified revenue really didn’t comprehend the impact of Craigslist until it was too late. They have not recovered and the carnage is just starting; they have not even reached the end of their beginning of the end.

As I start my first day tomorrow as a full-time instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, I am wondering whether I am one of the band members sitting on the deck of the Titanic…BEFORE the luxury liner hit the iceberg.

On the surface everything looks amazingly robust. A college education is now seen as a virtual entitlement for all, not the province of the privileged few. For example, the student population of the University of Oregon has expanded from 19,000 10 years ago to 24,000 now. The average GPA for the incoming freshman this past fall was a record 3.59. The J-School has a total of 2,000 students and the classes for the most part are packed, including the two that I am teaching. There is a reason for the campus wide swagger at Oregon besides the football team winning the Rose Bowl.

rosebowl

In addition, there is the perception shared by some chief executives, even those hailing from the innovative Silicon Valley, that those “attending” online universities are essentially buying a degree, not earning one at a “real” school.

And yet I drive past the shuddered Borders. I remember walking up and down the aisles, checking out books that grabbed my eye or thumbing through CDs. I would take the books over to the in-store coffee shop and peruse them over an overpriced upscale coffee and maybe buy a book or two. Those days are part of the not-too-distant past.

As everyone knows, you can download individual songs, not CDs, from iTunes and instantly load them onto your iPod. Books can either be instantly downloaded to electronic readers or quickly shipped. The bricks-and-mortar model limited the revenues of a Borders because physical space only allowed so much commerce. The “long tail” means that Amazon is not restricted by space and anybody who is looking for an out-of-print book or obscure music beyond the Top 40 can find it at Amazon, but rarely at Barnes and Noble or at now-defunct Borders.

Do these same bricks-and-mortar and ivy-covered walls also maximize the revenue potential of traditional universities, while online universities can teach literally an infinite amount of students on a global scale on a 24/7/365 basis? That may seem like a stretch, but how big of a stretch?

The perception that students are merely buying a degree is a public relations problem that can be solved with time and success stories. What if the public starts to see more-and-more University of Phoenix or DeVry University graduates in positions of power and authority, just is the case for graduates of Ivy League Schools, Stanford, Cal and yes, Oregon? Will we see a president of the United States (POTUS) hailing from an online university before we have a woman president…or will these firsts come at exactly the same time?

A key advantage for on-line universities is their classes never close, there is always a space and they can be taken anywhere at virtually any time. They are highly adaptable. Their non-tenured instructors are less prone as Debra Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote today to advance a social justice agenda and actually teach the course they were hired to teach…maybe even actually helping students find a real job. Bummer: There are no administration buildings to storm and occupy.

For the bricks-and-mortar presidents, administrators and department deans they should be afraid, very afraid of the digital future. Having said that, they have some time…but not unlimited time to devise a strategy to fight back. One important weapon in their arsenal is their well-established brand: a University of Oregon degree carries great weight. The same is true for other major universities.

There is absolutely no reason why these brand names can’t be married to online teaching technology to effectively compete or maybe even outcompete the University of Phoenix et al. crowd. Why can’t English 101 be taught online? Why can’t electrical engineering be taught online by renowned engineering schools? Of course, they can. The analog way of thinking and teaching needs to accommodate the digital reality of the new world.

Are there some limitations to the online teaching model that points to a sustained future for the fittest bricks-and-mortar universities? Sure. This week, I am teaching Public Relations Campaigns. I will be dividing up students in groups of four to work with non-profits on “capstone” projects. They need to learn how to work with others face-to-face, to not love each other but to respect each other. They need to appreciate that not everyone will carry exactly the same load, but that is life…just as long as no one is AWOL.

whiteboard

How can you effectively teach real-time tactile teamwork online? E-mail, texting and social media provides for universal connectivity on an immediate basis, but it does not replace face-to-face communication…in fact it allows introverts to avoid eyeball-to-eyeball contact. That is not what we are trying to achieve in bricks-and-mortar Public Relations Campaigns.

http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/could-many-universities-follow-borders-bookstores-into-oblivion/35711?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

http://chronicle.com/article/Candace-Thille/130934/

http://www.hattoss.com/ouniversities.htm

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2012/04/01/ucs_leftist_echo_chamber_drowns_out_diverse_voices_113688.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Tail

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