This Is Not About Butt Scans

I’ve got a piece on Slate today about “bargain” BAs and the predatory nature of “competency-based” “universities.” Read it now, before Western Governors University freaks out and tries to get me to retract. They have a lot of shills, and as such they have shill pieces in a lot of legitimate news outlets. Slate was brave enough to print this, so please read it. It’s not about my failures, or my butt, or anyone else’s butt, or the job market, or me in the least. It’s about students–and how they are getting ripped off every day.

5 thoughts on “This Is Not About Butt Scans

  1. Are the students who graduate with nursing degrees qualified to be nurses? If so, I don’t see what the problem is with a competency-based degree. For-profits are accredited. I guess I’m not sure what the connection is between bargain bachelor’s degrees and a critique of for-profit or competency-based ed. You’re assuming that the students aren’t hard working, and that the curriculum is inherently flawed (well, “life experience” is problematic, unless your life experience includes phlebotomy training or something). I don’t disagree with the point that tuition inflation is a huge problem, but I can’t tell if you’re more annoyed at the bargain degree, competency-based ed, or tuition hikes at state schools.


    • I believe the nursing students have had a tremendous problem getting certified, as they should. Competency-based “education” is fine in theory, but in practice, it is diploma-buying. And there is a HUGE difference between a legitimate university offering some competency-based models, and a “non-profit” university that is ONLY non-profit so it will not be subject to the regulations of the for-profits. Any “university” that has no professors is 100% bullshit, and as such it is no bargain.


    • and I’d say I’m annoyed at all these pathetic attempts to make college more “affordable,” because they don’t work–not to make things more affordable, and not to educate people.


      • I don’t know anything about WGU specifically; I know that in for-profits that there is a lot of variation among them, including variation among the kinds of work graduates are able to secure, and variation among placement for students who pursue different paths (e.g. nursing versus criminal justice). I agree that cutting faculty as a way to make education more affordable is bad policy no matter what kind of school you are. Is that your larger point?

        I’m not sure I see a problem with someone demonstrating their competency and therefore receiving a degree. Isn’t competency what we are looking for, at least in some professions? I was in an education PhD program and competency-based education is a very progressive trend because it’s based on, you know, actually doing something instead of doing worksheets or whatever. If a program meets the clinical standards established by the profession or state (or whomever sets those things), and the students meet those requirements, is it open to critique? Or should the standards themselves be raised?


  2. I want to clarify that I agree that a college degree’s worth is questionable. I mean, it’s not that different from the grifting that happens with grad students. Maybe I’m getting bogged down in the for-profit issue, I just couldn’t see the connection among the points you were making and wasn’t sure exactly what you were critiquing.


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