Walden University Exploits Students for Money

UPDATE 04/23/08: It turns out I didn’t actually want to bring people out of the woodwork who have had troubles with Walden. I know the issues you’ll read about in the comments below can happen at any University. Also, though this was a frustrating time for me, I know I might have been as frustrated or more in a traditional Ph.D. program. Since that time my committee has been heroic in their efforts to push my submissions through the system – and just last night I had my dissertation approved with minor edits following my oral defense. If I can complete all the form and style revisions quickly enough I expect to graduate next month and to walk this summer. I’m thrilled. And I say again unequivocally that Walden was an excellent learning experience for me over five years, despite this one quarter of frustration. I know other individual’s experiences may very, but I can whole heartedly recommend the school and the Educational Technology Ph.D. program. In keeping with good blogging ethics, though, I won’t be removing this post or the comments below. I’ll let this update set the story straight.

Here are my last three posts on twitter about what happened today:

WOO HOO! Got approval from the research office to proceed with my study! Oh wait, that’s not IRB approval. ARRRGGGG! Are u kidding me!?????

The IRB office has had my docs since August 15th… but couldn’t review them in the meantime, or even concurrently with the research office.

I understand working with bureaucracies, but I feel as if I’m being exploited for $. That’s not good education & it’s not good business.

At the earliest I might get approval from the IRB next week (though it will more likely be in ten business days… plus some). If I get approval next week, I will have spent an entire quarter’s time and tuition waiting for approval to proceed with my study. I’ve done less than 40 hours of work on my dissertation in three months time (this was mostly minor – often contradictory – revisions). I don’t even feel like I’m in a Ph.D. program anymore.

Yes, this post is more emotionally charged than most I share here.. particularly the title. It borders on being unprofessional. But, this blog is my forum for my voice to be heard, and as I clearly have no other recourse with the university (and I’m not going to quit and stop paying them at this point), here is where I will voice my criticisms of Walden University. (That phrase should be Google-able.)

Incidentally, I’m looking forward to the end of the quarter evaluations, too.

In any case, I hope this post matters as much as the times I’ve posted about the benefits of Walden’s program. I’ve lead many prospective students their way. I hope this sends others looking elsewhere. I will need to see evidence of change in the approval process to re-endorse this program. I understand I am not alone in these frustrations.

I hope my feelings on this matter level off in the coming months, especially after I’ve finally completed my study. If not, I will be sad that my long journey ends with this sort of experience.

Note: For more details on much time I’ve spent waiting for approval, see my post from the 17th.

10 Responses to “Walden University Exploits Students for Money”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    How about posting an e-mail address where others might be able to contact Walden about their policies.

  2. John Pederson Says:

    Interesting. What the web gives, the web easily takes away. Way back in the deepest, darkest corner of my conscious is a little voice that reminds me I should take the next steps towards a Ph.D. I’ve had a few people mention Walden…it’s easily been the most talked about in my educational technology/library circles…and always in a positive light.

    Money and time are probably the two things holding most back from making this jump. Not for me. I’m most concerned about whether I have the patience for dealing with situations just like this one. It’s that entire http://www.cluetrain.org curse. :)

    I hope things straighten out in short time! :)

  3. Chris Craft Says:

    Mark,

    I have to ask the tough question here, and it’s one we talked about briefly at NECC 2007 this past summer. I’ve been working on my Ph.D. here locally and been reading tons of research and hearing loads of names tossed around, not one is from Walden.

    I know you’re not looking for a tenure track position at a University once you finish, but I have to wonder about the quality of education.

    A prime example is your dissertation regarding Vygotsky when you mention that Vygotsky says learning is all social. I think this might represent a misunderstanding of Vygotsky. I’ve been working my way through him this semester with a noted Vygotsky scholar and I’ve come to entirely different conclusions.

    I just wonder if you aren’t right with the post’s title. I am offering no superiority by any stretch, just wondering out loud.

    The tougher question, are these credits transferrable to a more traditional institution?

    Chris

  4. Mark Wagner Says:

    In case anyone reads this before I get a chance to respond… I’m getting over my frustration from yesterday, but not I need to respond to Chris’s comment, too. It’s coming. ;)

  5. Educational Technology and Life » Blog Archive » An Answer To The Tough Question (About Walden University) Says:

    [...] In my frustration over the unnecessary length (and cost) of the dissertation proposal approval process at Walden I wrote a purposefully negative post yesterday. I was expecting that it might kick up some controversy, but I didn’t expect the comment that Chris Craft left. I have no delusions about the approval process being any better at most traditional institutions (I’ve heard plenty of horror stories), and I certainly wasn’t insinuating that the quality of education at Walden was any less. In fact, the outcome I’d most like to see from a post like that (however juvenile it was in title and in fact) is that Walden might exercise it’s freedom to be something new, different, and better. There is no reason for Walden (or Walden students) to labor under the weight of outdated bureaucratic systems. In any case, I feel compelled to respond to a few of the points Chris made in his comment. [...]

  6. Cruz Moreno Says:

    Wow I had no idea one could encounter a problems such as the one the Walden student encountered. All I can say is that one is entitled to understand what he or she can. Why not accept this dissertation?

  7. Daniel Says:

    Marc,

    I sympathize sincerely with your frustration. Try 3 years of having all efforts at an acceptable proposal blocked because the dissertation chair would never be direct about what she wanted to see changed. Changed the chair, finished the dissertation. I should have done it much earlier.

    Brick and mortar schools are just as difficult. My ability to specialize in a concentrated field of study made my Walden experience very much worth the time, effort, and cost.

    Daniel

  8. Valerie Says:

    I knew I wasn’t the only one having problems. I started my studies at Walden in 1998, when the University was still relatively young. In fact, at that point they gave us grades of Satisfactory and Unstaisfactory at that time. I had to stop in the dissertation stage (note – dissertation stage) at Walden because, frankly I was spending a lot of money and wasn’t getting anywhere (I sympathize with the previous posts). I re-started last semester after months of jumping through hoops for readmission. Now I am being told that I have to re-take 2 classes ($4000. worth) because my GPA needs to be higher. Here is where things become grossly unfair – 15 of my classes are NOT being counted in the GPA because they are not in the A,B,C, format – only five are (from when they changed the grading system over). My GPA is being calculated on 5 classes, 1/4 of my work, and yet Walden had me in the dissertation stage before I left. So my GPA had to be okay then with them – it was good enough for them to take my money. Tell me how this makes sense.
    I can’t be the only returning student in this situation. I am strongly considering a class action suit. It appears that Walden is a business that has last its educational ethics, and ability to communicate effectively with students who have problems and questions, in the desire for profit.

  9. Also frustrated with Walden! Says:

    And now they’ve added an EXTRA step in the dissertation approval process (the URR)?!?! What?! You wait 10 WEEKS for IRB approval AND additional time (who knows how long) for the URR to approve it as well?!!? Why not just stick with IRB and charge us the additional umpteen thousand dollars and get it over with?!!?

  10. George Says:

    I have been working on my dissertation for 5 years now at Walden U, two of which have been on the dissertation approval, re-writes, etc. I am now going through a 14 step revision process! Everything that is sent is wait two weeks. By the time you add two weeks, two weeks, etc; you end up paying a lot per semester for just revisions. This is a BIG difference from most brick and mortar universities where they only charge a minimal amount to the student while in the process of finishing the dissertation.
    Walden U or any other on line university is only worth it if you truly finish within the 3 years they “claim” the program can be finished. If you are looking into getting in a program, I would gear you towards Argosy University, they seem to have a combination of on-line and face to face doctoral programs that to me would be much better.