Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Documentation for students with disabilities

It has recently came to my attention through a vast amount of email messages that there are an increasing amount of students having problems with College Disability Services. I want to address this issue here to help decrease the amount of email I am getting on this issue.

Documentation of a disability varies from school and state and there is not a unified approach or requirements for this. There is however a list of disabilities that must be covered under both the A.D.A. and the Rehabilitation Act. Only online students are covered under the Telecommunications Act. Any reasonable disability that requires a doctors written diagnosis should always be attached when applying for an accomodation but this does not mean that the school will grant or enforce the accomodation. It is the students responsibility to request a list of authorized condition for the college they attend.

A student does have certain recourses under the law but only after they follow the formal complaint and appeals policy for the school they attend. Once they have exhausted these resources without recieving appropriate accomodation they can then file a formal complaint through the A.D.A. and appropriate commission for their school. Each state senators office has social workers that are available to help and advocate for a student with disabilities and it is advised to use their services which is free. Do not hesitate to question decisions that you are told are final by a school. If you need a list of Senators for your area please contact me, I will be posting an updated list soon.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Top Ten signs your degree or school is fake!

Top Ten Signs Your Degree is Fake

1 Your chosen university is not accredited. To learn if your college or university holds recognized accreditation check out these databases to search for your school or perspective school.

The accreditation database is brought to you by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Post secondary Education retrieved at:

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) database lists approximately 7,000 degree-granting and non-degree-granting institutions and over 17,000 programs that are accredited by United States accrediting organizations retrieved at:
Simply scroll down to bottom of page and agree with disclaimer and search for your school.

2. The school you are attending or planning to attend is accredited but not by an agency recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. Chea's main web site can be retrieved at:
Internet degree mills are "accredited" by bogus agencies that have no authority to accreditate and usually have created the bogus agencies themselves.
3. Admission criteria consist entirely of possession of an identification card or license and a valid Visa or MasterCard. Previous academic record, grade-point average and test scores are deemed irrelevant and you can often be accepted without having to provide proof of graduation from high school or transcripts .
Here is an example of documentation that is needed to be accepted by Lamar State College retrieved at: , however, for the online student they must sign a transcript request that is sent to the school they attended which is sent back to perspective college or University . If you are sending a copy of your diploma or G.E.D. certificate buyer beware applies .

4. You are offered a college degree based on a "review" of your faxed resume for life time credit. No valid distance-learning university or college in the United States will award a graduate degree based solely on a review of career experience. Accredited undergraduate programs typically limit credit for experience to a maximum of 10 courses or 30 semester credits this is approximately on year of a four-year degree.

5. You are promised a diploma within 30 days of application regardless of your status upon entry. This is typically a Degree mill which is in the business of selling paper.

6 You are promised a degree in exchange for a lump sum: typically, $2,000 for an undergraduate degree, $3,000 for a graduate degree sometimes more. Universities charge per credit or per course tuition and fees. Some online school prorate book cost into the tuition.

7. Your prospective online university has multiple complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau. The bureau records consumer complaints about online degree mills. Visit BBB online at Look not only for your state but also the different states that the school claims it has a campus in.

8. Your online "admission counselor" assures you that online universities can't be accredited by CHEA-recognized agencies. Most online schools also have separate brick and mortar facilities as well and offer both traditional ground campus education and online. Do not take an admission specialist word, do your homework.

9. A Schools website will also offer invaluable clues. Look for the list of Instructors and their bios. If there is no list this is a major problem also look at where these Instructors graduated from, and what degree they hold. If Instructors hold a Associates Degree they are not in a position to teach legally.

10. Overseas university offering online degrees almost exclusively to U.S. citizens but is located in a foreign country, do not be fooled by online degree and diploma mills. Many maintain impressive Web sites and advertise heavily online yet this does not make them legitimate. Take the time to verify accreditation by an agency that is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Remember it is your money and time you will waste if you don't check it out.
Check accreditation of the online degree at US Department of Education
Check legitimacy of the Internet University at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation
Write to the Diploma Mill Police that authenticates Internet Institutes of Education.

Online Students file complaints

Long Distance Education has become quite popular in the age of technology yet many students feel they are not getting value for their education. Often a student will fight a problem within the structure of the school but end feeling deflated and discouraged when their issues are pushed aside.

Recently I have recieved many email correspondance regarading civil rights issues within online schools and have few answers. The best advice I can give is to immediately file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights. Provide as much documentation as you can and stick to the facts. The types of complaints they handle are: discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin; discrimination on the basis of sex; discrimination on the basis of disability; discrimination on the basis of age.

In general they usually only handle complaints filed within 180 calendar days but have accepted cases past this calendar period.

Here is the direct link to the complaint form with the Office for Civil Rights:

I have also been approached in regards to how to tell if the online college one is attending is real or bogus. I will post a seperate blog for this but I caution other students to do research before enrolling in an online college. Learn as much as you can about the school first and do not be afraid to file complaints when you find there is something wrong about the school you are attending.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

How to file a formal complaint

When filing a complaint against an Instructor or faculty member it is important in the online environment to save as much documentation as possible this includes emails, live class chats, message board communication's that support your claim and grade book responses.

When you write the complaint stick to the facts with the date, time and event. Use screen shots of live class if you have these to support your claim. Although it can be hard try not to express how this makes you feel unless you do it in your last paragraph before summary.

If your advisor does not help in this situation which is often the case you can go to the department head and chair of your course studies. The next step is usually the dean. If you do not get a chance to participate in the outcome of this process you can file a complaint with higher education accreditation committee that your school falls under. If you are unsure please contact me for help.

There are many great online schools out there today that take great pride in their students learning process which hires quality professors who believe in the learning process and go out of the way to help a student get the most out of the educational process. Do not be afraid to explore other colleges, it is your money and you deserve to get what you pay for.

One thing I have learned is that I need to know when I graduate that my degree will be worth something and not just a piece of paper. That I am learning the latest technology and will be prepared for my chosen field. Today I am proud of what I am learning at my new school, they have proven that they are leaders in my chosen field and as I watched others graduate I was amazed how quickly they got quality jobs making excellent money some even before graduation through the placement services at my school.

I will be graduating in 2008 with excitement and grateful for what I have learned. If you feel the school you are presently attending is not providing you with the tools you will need to succeed upon graduation then do some serious thinking. Your future is in your hands and with all the quality online schools out there today it is important to find one that will have value to your chosen field.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Protect Yourself From Online School Scams

Accreditation is often confusing and becoming an issue in choosing an Online University. You see they are accredited and click on the link to verify so you assume they are legitimate. WRONG! There are many online school scams out there and it is important to ask questions and research a school you are considering to enroll in. So lets start with the basics of understanding Accreditation.
Regional Accreditation
There are six regional accreditation boards: Each of the 6 geographic regions of the United States has a non-governmental, regional agency that oversees and accredits degree-granting institutions headquartered in their territories. The six regional accreditation boards are: MSA--Middle States Association; NASC--Northwest Association of Schools & Colleges; NCA--North Central Association of Colleges & Schools; NEASC--New England Association of Schools & Colleges; SACS--Southern Association of Colleges & Schools; WASC--Western Association of Schools & Colleges. Regionally accredited colleges recognize degrees and credits earned at other regionally accredited institutions as equal to their own. An example of this is: if you earn an undergraduate or bachelor’s degree at one regionally accredited college, such as the University of Maryland, it will be recognized as a valid degree for entering a graduate program later at the University of Indiana or any other regionally accredited university. A major benefit of attending a regionally accredited college is that credits or degrees earned at one regionally accredited institution are generally fully accepted in transfer by other regionally accredited colleges. Credits and degrees earned at non-regionally accredited universities are not commonly accepted in transfer by regionally accredited institutions.
Distance Learning Accreditation:
The Distance Education & Training Council (DETC) is a nationally recognized accreditation agency for colleges and schools that specialize in distance learning. The DETC, founded more than 75 years ago, accredits more than 70 home study institutions. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools (ACICS) is another widely recognized institutional accrediting agency.
State approved Universities or Colleges: do not confuse this with accreditation! Many states regulate private training and trade schools by putting them through a state approval process. This process is not the same as accreditation. Sometimes it simply means that a license to do business has been granted. A "state approved" distance learning college may meet your career needs; it may provide sound training, but degrees earned from unaccredited universities are not widely accepted in the academic world. Degrees earned at "state approved" colleges may not be accepted for transfer and admission at regionally accredited colleges.
Program Accreditation:
Three different agencies in the United States specialize in accrediting business schools. Among these agencies, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools Business International (AACSB) is considered, by academics themselves, the most prestigious type of business school accreditation. If you intend to pursue a career in teaching or research in a university environment then an AACSB-accredited business degree may be a wise investment. Academic departments within universities often seek specialized accreditation for individual degree programs. Careers regulated by state licensing may require degrees that carry special programmatic accreditation. Teacher licensing boards may require degrees earned from colleges whose education schools are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). State bar or lawyer licensing regulatory boards often require law degrees from schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). To become licensed as and engineer you may have to attend an engineering degree program that is accredited by the Accrediting Board for Engineering Technology (ABET).
So how can you protect yourself, you do an internet search on online education programs and assume that since it says the number 1 choice of students on the internet that this is a great school. Think Again! To understand the placement of a search in a search engine we must talk about marketing. For a school to be successful online they must market themselves, the more ads you see the more push they are putting into their ad campaign, even make of the search for an online college sites are paid for ad placement from schools. So how can you possibly know that you are choosing the right school. Change your search strategy , type in the name of school and student complaints you might get an eye full. Check with the better business bureau but remember you will never see the full impact of student complaints.
Visit the Council for Higher Education Web Site.
If you’re considering an online university, ask the following questions before you enroll: 1. Are Your Accredited? 2. If So, By Whom? Is the accrediting agency a recognized agency? Accreditation by an unrecognized agency is a common ploy used by online diploma mills. In the United States, the Council for Higher Education is the agency that oversees legitimate accrediting agencies. CHEA maintains a directory of recognized accrediting agencies online, 3. Understand the Type of Accreditation You Need Attend only those online colleges that hold the type of accreditation you need to advance. 4. Verify Accreditation
The BBB records consumer complaints about online degree mills. Visit the BBB online at
Look at the schools web site and pay close attention to the faculty list, often diploma mills pop and disappear quickly one clue to look for is:
The school’s Web site either lists no faculty or lists faculty who have attended schools accredited by bogus agencies.
The university offers online degrees almost exclusively to United States citizens but is conveniently located in a foreign country, quite often a tiny nation that lacks any system of academic accreditation. Don’t be fooled by online degree and diploma mills. Many maintain impressive web sites. All of them advertise heavily online. Look beyond flashy graphics for the name of the school’s accreditation agency. If you have a disability investigate their policies, ask questions and ask for student references yes you can do this although not all schools will comply. If you find yourself enrolled in a unfriendly environment for disabilities or run into obstacles where the college refuses to comply to accessibility standards file a complaint immediately do not hesitate. The strength of students with disabilities lies in their voice and we must use it to make a difference. We have to convince schools who operate online learning programs to comply with the law. Accommodations is not simply extending the time allocation for students to take exams and quizzes, but it is the implementation of an effective strategy that insures that the student with a disability is able to grasp the material and navigate the program successfully and it also involves advocacy often by a person who is not disabled and it is just a job to them. For additional information check out this site concerning Middle States Commission on Higher Education at and remember even accreditation does not prove a college's ability to deliver a course effectively or demonstrate how valueable the degree will be.
For assistance contact me via email if you need assistance at

Friday, February 9, 2007

Online Education, is it legal?

I recently was in a class with quite a few people who did not have the ability to spell. Even I have a few typographical errors from time to time, however, I was amazed to discover that the grade these people received for the term were the same as mine. This brings up an interesting concept on who holds these online universities accountable in the grading system.
It is also quite easy to cheat by having someone else do your work online which I have often wondered if this might be happening on test. When ones message board post do not show they understand the material and then get a perfect score on each and every test. Now there are a few online Colleges' which take academic honesty and integrity very serious and I have been lucky enough to find one of those recently and have transferred, yet I still hear from some of my old friends who are continuing to get perfect scores and I must questioned the grading system in the online environment.
In a traditional campus setting, excellent grades are not as easy to achieve and maintain, writing and reading comprehension is a must, and students must demonstrate an understanding of the course material. In the online environment, instructors are encouraged to give students high scores and the students actually fill out surveys on each instructor and often a good instructor can lose their position for low scores which is often motivated by a student getting a poor score.
Before you sign up for an online course program, research diligently and do not always believe message boards that state this school is the best or college search programs which get paid to advertise the school. You can receive a quality education in the online environment but you must find a quality school which often the biggest is not the best, instead it is the one that has the most gimmick's and advertises the most.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

File a complaint against an Online College

There are many places a student may turn to file a complaint when they feel their rights have been violated in the online environment. These rights may include discrimination, financial liability and misappropriation of student funds by the financial aid department of said college, grievences with instructors, disability department and other administrative departments, accessibility issues and inappropriate content in the classroom. So where do you turn to get help?
Office for Civil RightsU.S. Department of Education400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.Washington, D.C. 20202-1100(202) 245-6800; 1-800-421-3481FAX: (202) 245-6840; TDD: (877) 521-2172E-mail: OCR@ed.govWeb: The office for civil rights handles complaints including those in the online education environment.
Anyone wishing to file a formal complaint with OCR should submit in writing the following information in a letter or on the Discrimination Complaint Form available from OCR enforcement offices (see listing): ·
name and address and a day phone number where you might be reached
· A general description of the person(s) or class of persons injured by the alleged discriminatory act(s)
· The name and location of the institution that committed the alleged discriminatory act(s); A description of the alleged discriminatory act(s)
Describe what occurred, how or when it occurred,
the basis for the alleged discrimination (race, color, national origin, or you can choose to fill out a complaint on line at:
Note: a complaint must be filed within 180 calender days the exception is to submit just cause why one is filing the claim late for consideration.

Office for Civil RightsDiscrimination Complaint Form

Before completing this form,please read the information describing its use:
for complaint form go to

United States Department of Education, Family Policy Compliance Office
If an University refuses to turn over all education records to students as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) you have options. It is strongly encouraged that you request your "complete education record(s) as defined by FERPA. By Federal Law, they have no more than forty five (45) days to submit everything that is maintained as part of that record. If (or when) an University fails to do this, complaints may be filed with the United States Department of Education, Family Policy Compliance Office, the law enforcement agency responsible for enforcing violations of FERPA.
Family Policy Compliance Office of US Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SWWashington, DC 20202-5901
(202) 260-3887 - voice
(202) 260-9001 - FAX

FBI Internet Fraud Complaint Center
If you have been charged hidden cost or feel that money has been billed to you that is incorrect you can file a complaint against the online school through the FBI Internet Fraud Center.
To file a complaint read this first and accept the terms, then fill out form.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Bureau of Consumer Protection
This is another government agency that will investigate fraud complaints. If you feel that the online school has committed fraud especially in instances of with holding diplomas as they state you owe them more money which does not match with the money paid to them or were approved for an accelerated scholarship program through a school and later find out that you owe the total amount this agency is responsible to the consumer to protect their rights.
use the complaint form button at bottom of page to file complaint

You should know your rights and the resposibility that a school must meet if you are a student with disabilities who uses adaptive devices. To learn more go to:

Online University Consortium
This is an excellent place to learn more about a schools accreditation
Online UC was founded by leading universities to help companies and employees secure quality online education, high return on investment and relevant degree programs from trusted institutions of higher education. The Online UC website provides a directory of schools who have met a set of seven standards required for Consortium membership. An industry checklist is also available, which features criteria for choosing a quality online education.

These resources are an excellent place to get started, I will be posting more resources in the near future. What is important to remember is to file a complaint as soon as possible.