Online schools: the legit and the sham-ful

A question has been nagging me for some time now: What the heck is Western Governors University?

And for that matter, what are all these other unknown colleges popping up in television commercials?

Watching TV over the holidays, I couldn’t seem to escape them. One of the bowl games was even sponsored by a Mystery U — the National University Holiday Bowl, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Does National University sit on a majestic campus in our nation’s capital? Uh, no. It’s scattered in office parks all over California. But more important, it’s anywhere someone has a computer and an Internet connection.

And the same goes for the much-advertised Western Governors University. These are online universities you’re seeing pitched on TV.

Perhaps I’m prejudiced by the trade schools that advertise so heavily on television. Many of them have proved to be shoddy, if not outright shams. So alarms go off in my head when I see the online university ads.

And now the ads are purposely stoking suspicion. Brandman University is running commercials tearing down other schools for their profit motive and low graduation rates.

I look at the ads and feel sorry for prospective students trying to sort it all out. There’s no doubt online education is becoming a bigger part of higher education. But it also has left a lot of students with big debt and no degree.

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