Domestic, Ethics, Feature, For-Profit, Friend, Fraud, or Fishy, Recruitment, Required, Retention Rates, Universities & Colleges - Written by on Thursday, August 11, 2011 19:28 - 69 Comments

Inside Ashford University: A former staffer talks to WiredAcademic


by Foxtongue on Flickr under Creative Commons license

By Paul Glader, Managing Editor of WiredAcademic

A former academic advisor at Clinton, Iowa,-based Ashford University recently spoke candidly with WiredAcademic about her experience working for the large for-profit college. Ashford has around 80,000 students and is owned by Bridgepoint Education Inc. Despite a sliding stock price, Bridgepoint’s market capitalization still tops $1 billion. Just last month, a top investor, Warburg Pincus, signaled intention to sell their 65% stake.

Some of the details in this interview are rather shocking…. We publish them because we believe this industry needs transparency to make progress. We’d like to hear from more students, faculty and staff in the for-profit schools on what’s happening inside these companies. We also welcome a response from officials at Ashford University or Bridgepoint Education Inc. if they would like to respond to this or to give an interview. Email me at [email protected].

WA - Tell us about your background at Ashford? 

AA - I was an academic advisor for Ashford University for just under a year. I started looking for a new job about 1 month in when I realized how unethically the admissions department conducted itself and what a scam the university was… but I’ll get in to that. Before I launch in to it I think it may be helpful to break down the role of an academic advisor. First of all, all academic advising happened exclusively over the phone. This makes sense when you consider that the average advisor had between 500-600 students that they were responsible to make regular contact with. I never met any of the students I was responsible to counsel, saw a picture, or had any kind of tangible contact with them. The closest I heard was some students would “friend” academic advisors via facebook, and on a few occasions I heard of academic advisors checking out student’s houses on google maps. Some of that was harmless curiosity, but some academic advisors used that as a tool to see if students excuses for absences checked out. For example if someone said they couldn’t attend class because a pond flooded on their property our job was to check out if that story was true and google maps was a big help for that sort of detective work.

WA - That’s really interesting about Google maps/Google earth. I didn’t think they updated the photos on Google earth in real time? Or would you guys just look to see, for example, if a pond was nearby the house the student described? 
AA - We were trained to treat all student excuses with extreme skepticism so we were encouraged to check local weather reports, obituaries, and finally google maps to see if there was any real possibility that their story could be true. Looking back, it is just so twisted I can’t believe our management encouraged us to go to these extremes.

WA - How did Ashford help and support students in these programs? How effective was the system?

AA - Beyond retention we were responsible to make a minimum of 100 calls a day to check in with students, make sure university policies (especially regarding attendance) were properly understood, and try to offer a personal touch to an otherwise very impersonal university experience…. Our first contact with a student happened around half way through their first class. Admissions coordinators did not collect commission on a student unless the student completed roughly 80% of their first class. On the day that they had completed the minimum percentage of the class the “responsibility” for that student fell on to the academic advisor. There were a few major flaws with this system. First of all, academic advisors are assessed on their retention rates. If you have students dropping out or not attending their classes it would impact your numbers and ultimately it would impact your chances at raises and promotions within the company. But at the end of the day student retention was based 100% on the admissions coordinators that fed in to your student populations.

WA - Explain more about how your job was affected by admissions coordinators at Ashford? 

AA- I had COUNTLESS situations where an admission coordinator would lie to a student about a major/career path/potential salary that Ashford could offer them and when they realized they had been lied to they would want to drop out on the spot. As a result, that first phone call half way through the first class to the student was a really big deal. Most academic advisors (myself included) would go off the suggested script and ask the students point-blank what promises/expectations had their admissions coordinator given them during early enrollment. If there was any hint of a lie/false promise I would encourage the student to consider withdrawing at that time to have a chance to get the story straight from their admissions coordinator. I saw threatening an admissions counselor’s commission as the only way to make them take responsibility for giving accurate and responsible information to new students.

WA - What was your overall feeling about the transparency of the school with its students? 

AA - I was consistently saddened and overwhelmed by the amount of lies that students were told and how the ignorant, poor, or academically incompetent seemed to be preyed upon by admissions coordinators. There were a lot of lofty promises, but I also saw that there are big portions of the American community that either don’t know what they are signing up for when they are recruited for the school or (this is going to sound harsh) are not smart enough to really qualify for legitimate higher education. For example, I had one student that was about to graduate with her Associates degree and on a routine call to her she asked me when she would start her “masseuseing classes.” At first I thought I misunderstood her until I started to dig a little more and realized she thought she was getting her massage therapy degree online (something both she and her angry husband insisted they had been promised by the admissions coordinator.) There was just so much wrong with this. False promises from the admissions coordinator coupled with a student too dense to see how impossible it would be to learn how to give good massages over the internet. Unfortunately there were a lot of stories like this. Another student I recall had totally lost touch with reality was on welfare, living out of her car, over $30k in debt to the school and insisting that she wanted to continue in her coursework because of the promise of a high salary waiting for her once she graduated. … I couldn’t believe what people were told, and how much of it they were open to believing.

WA - Were the students getting an education on par with your college experience? How did the two compare?

AA - Absolutely not. First of all, every test is open booked when you’re teaching online. Secondly, attendance was measured by the number of “clicks” in a classroom. Attending a class just meant that you had clicked on at least 3 links within the classroom, it did not mean that you participated in the class discussion or that you are engaged in any substantial way with the course content. I also saw that all communication skills were seriously lacking with the majority of our students. This went beyond basic grammar (though that was a serious issue) and there was no way to even check that a student was literate, let alone competent at the written English language, prior to admission.

WA - Some in Washington have criticized for-profit schools for saddling students with debt, for having high drop-out rates and for providing degrees that didn’t provide the kinds of jobs students thought they would. What are your views on these criticisms?

AA - Amen Washington! I 100% agree with this criticism! Ultimately I saw too many examples of students racking up debts with little evidence in their grades that they were getting anything meaningful from their education. Also, I think there was a real confusion about what Washington would offer as far as student loans. Most students seemed genuinely shocked when they realized they would have to repay student loans. I also remember that when Obama took office I also noticed a huge surge in the African American community at the school believing that he would “pay for their education” because of education bills he introduced early in his presidency. Ultimately I did not see any way that people who started this school with debt or in serious poverty would ever be eligible for high paying careers let alone be able to pay for tuition and books.

WA — What was it like to work at Bridgepoint? What was the office culture like? What was management like?

AA - Working at Ashford was like working in one giant frat party. The majority of employees were under 30, single, and ready to mingle. Office hook-ups were regular, and it seemed like they were always holding some sort of sexual harassment in the workplace seminar. Keeping “high energy” was also a big part of the culture, ESPECIALLY for the admissions coordinators who made ~500 phone calls a day. Managers would give their employees candy and energy drinks like red bull and monster and they would have drinking contests or do shots at their desks. There was even an outbreak of people snorting coke in the bathroom just so they would be amped-up enough to make a few more phone calls that day. Since it was such a young company, the management was also young. On a few occasions I had students livid that they couldn’t talk to anyone who actually sounded like a grown up. Overall I think they really tried to promote a culture where employees felt like they worked with a bunch of their closest friends (and internal referrals are one of the biggest ways to get hired there so there were a lot of people who WERE working with their closest friends!) But there was always a weird tension when management had to assert their authority. It always turned in to this “bossy big sister/brother” sort of dynamic. It was weird. One thing that may be worth mentioning is the salary/education link at the school. Admissions coordinators were not required to have a college degree or be working towards a higher degree, however their pay started at $50k and with commission and bonuses could make up to 100k. Academic advisors on the other hand were required to have a college degree and salaries started at 30k. Definitely a hard pill to swallow when your employer… a university no less… doesn’t seem to value higher education in its employees.

WA - Did you have a sense that Bridgepoint and other schools were trying to improve student services? Recruiting techniques? Retention? Financial counseling so students wouldn’t obtain too much debt? What were they doing about these respective issues? E.g. any memos to staff to improve on xyz? Any new initiatives? New executives that tried to improve quality or ethics?

AA - I left Ashford right around the time Washington started talking more about their investigations and U of Phoenix had their major settlement with two former enrollment coordinators who said that management forced them to lie to prospective students. Since I was at the beginning of the drama I’m not sure how much that negative attention has impacted how student services are now run. As things were coming up I did ask my management how they wanted us to handle student questions/concerns but they advised to respond “no comment” across the board. I can tell you that every person I worked with in academic advising has now left because of similar issues I had. If only they invested as much in the retention of their employees as they do for their students.

WA - Do you think there is hope that this industry - for-profit and online colleges - can improve and educate a wider swath of people in the U.S.? Or do you think it’s a model that is impossible to fix? 

WA - I think there would need to be a major amount of reform and excruciating accountability for the for-profit model to ever really work. Personally, I think that for-profit education can’t work.  It was just too tempting for those chasing after higher commissions to remember the needs of the students.  I also saw that in an effort to keep costs low they paid their teachers so little there were issues of teachers walking out of classes and not issuing students final grades or in some cases not teaching entire sections of the curriculum.  I don’t know how to build the credibility of the school and the education received there when the bottom line ultimately drives the choices a school makes.

WA - How did you rate the actual interface students used in the school? The course management software? The content delivery software and teaching methods? What can you tell us about these systems at Ashford? 

AA - Personally, I thought the actual interface was pretty intuitive however it was often subject to system crashes which can be a big problem.  The real issue I saw was that some students would be enrolled in the school without any consistent access to a computer or internet or any computer experience.  If I had a dollar every time I taught a student (over the phone) how to create an email account or use Microsoft word I would be a very rich lady.  There were technology requirements, but oftentimes enrollment coordinators would fudge the system so they could meet their enrollment quotas.  Unfortunately, you can have the best system in the world, but unless you can guarantee that students meet the requirements to access that system and have basic computer skills under their belt it’s a waste of a lot of people’s time and money.
Related Articles


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Bob H.
Dec 19, 2011 0:10

Mr Glader,
Great article that has proved many things about my experience with Ashford University. I am interested in finding out how I can make my complaints get to the right person. I plan on contacting the Higher Learning Commission and I plan on finding out who the Senator is conducting this investigation.

I am within 4 classes of completing my BA and now they have dropped an elective they gave me credit for 3 years ago. This adds a class to my schedule that I should not have to take. I am in the Air Force (22+ years) and I have a schedule set and planned to finish this degree by a certain date to assist me in being promoted. Now, my plan may be thrown off if they do not correct this wrong. I have been in contact with my AA numerous times explaining how many classes I have left and then all of a sudden this one shows up with no notice. I have a progress report from 30 November 11 that shows I have 47 of 47 credits for my electives completed. Now it shows I have 43 of 47 complete and a class is now scheduled. For three years I had 47 of 47 complete. I am awaiting a response from my AA but still plan on filing a complaint.

Additionally, I have an Airman that worked for me who had an AA tell her he was going to submit her for a decoration because she had referred many people to AU. He even contacted a supervisor of this Airman. This is highly inappropriate and way out of his lane. My commander and I laughed at the thought. Can you assist me in getting my complaints heard by the proper people.

I believe everything this former AA told you. I look forward to hearing from you and hope you can let me know the right people to talk to. I will also be sending this to your e-mail account in hopes it reaches you.

Best regards,
Bob H.

Amy Dodson
Dec 21, 2011 11:19

While many of the accusations that this AA hurled maybe true, as a former student, I can tell you that (personally) my experience with Ashford was very positive. I don’t feel that my Adviser lied to me in any way and everything that we discussed was point on, as far as my needs and expectations for furthering my education. With the exclusion of one course, my Instructors were knowledgeable,instructive, and interactive with the students and my main complaint with that course is that my instructor had a lot of personal emergencies and was unavailable a lot of the time. My classroom was easy to navigate and the work was strenuous. I can definitely see how anyone without determination, focus, and the willingness to put in the effort required to write all the papers, or who is prone to procrastination might fail; but to me, that is on that person, not the school or the instructors. One can only teach those who are receptive, willing, and eager to be taught.

I believe that, as in any large business, you will probably find that “one bad apple” that will spoil the whole bunch; but on the whole, I would bet that there are more good, honest advisers than bad. My advisers were all very excellent. It sounds to me as if the AA who participated in this article was a disgruntled employee. I am in hopes that more people, like myself, who had a positive experience at Ashford will speak up.

I worked hard, attended classes regularly, handed in my work on time, took my tests without consulting my book for the answers, and made certain that I got all that I could out of my education. I have nothing bad to say about Ashford University and am proud to have finished my B.A. in psychology from Ashford.

Amy P. Dodson

Brett C.
Dec 21, 2011 18:15

You can keep some of the people happy some of the time, but you can’t keep all of the people happy all of the time is applicable at Ashford just like anywhere else. I have been attending for the last year and other than some occasional displeasure and inconvenience with the financial aid office, I have been more than pleased with my enrollment and academic advisors as well as the education I am receiving.

Without the encouragement and support of the great instructors I have had and from my academic advisor, I would not have made it this far. I am 53 years old and not a kid by any means and the other students in my age group and I are having a great experience that we are proud of.

Barbara W.
Dec 21, 2011 23:09

WiredAcademic and Bob H. I have to agree with Amy Dodson and Brett C. I finished my BA in Psychology AND Social & Criminal Justice in Oct 2010. Ashford Univ.(AU) Academic Advisors were extremely helpful and attentive towards my needs. I completed my degree while also stationed in three different countries, without any problems. I personally disagree with anyone saying that online education is a joke! There may be a few Online Colleges that fit this description, but in my experience, Ashford was not one of them.

Amy D. is correct, a student gets what a student puts into their education. I worked my bum off, lugging my computer around the world to ensure that I completed my course work in accordance with each classes requirements. During my 3.5 years at AU I have never been late on an assignment, never relied on anyone else to complete my school work, offered any excuses to get out of assignments, nor allowed anyone to plagiarize any work, to include previous papers I wrote. Just like Amy D. stated, “…every big company has its issues”. AU has never steered me wrong and I asked a lot of questions when I did not understand something. My academic professors were hard but fair; some harder than others, however, I survived them as well as maintained a 3.9 GPA. Not so easy when getting two degrees! I also attended the graduation and enjoyed the experience of walking to receive my degree with honors - Summa Cum laude baby!!!!!

I have had the opportunity to complete a year in the college classroom environment at UMUC and found that it required a lot of personal traveling and dealings with immature students, which for me, as an adult and living overseas, was not always palatable. Shame on students who don’t take their education seriously.

The one complaint that I had about AU was the Financial Aide department, however, this issue was resolved by a very good AA who contacted the manager in that division. Problem solved. I would have to say, that if you have a problem keep going up the chain until it is resolved. Persistence and patience is a wonderful tool to possess.

I will close with this - it takes a persistent, focused, and disciplined student to pursue a college degree via the online route. I am very proud to have had my online experience with Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa.

Barbara W. - Class of 2010!

Bob H.
Dec 22, 2011 15:57

@ Barbara…I have a 4.0 through 10 classes with Ashford, currently a 97 in the class I am in now, and only have 3 classes left. I put the work in. My problem is with Ashford is that it has moved away from what made it attractive in the first place. They are no longer the same military friendly school they used to be. They appear to be more interested in sheer numbers more than anything else. I have attended off and on since 2008. When I started I was the only military person in my classes, now, military members are everywhere…which is a great thing. However, I believe AU found out the advantages of seeking out military students (military friendly=$$$$) and they have agressively pursued them to become the 3rd largest school for the military.

When AA’s begin trying to write decorations for an Airman First Class (E-3), or anyone, then a line has been crossed. This is not second hand gossip I am passing around. This situation actually came to me and I shut it down. I pulled the Airman in my office and let them know it would not happen and that it was inappropriate for the individual to even mention a decoration. Anyone remember taking ethics?

Further, I do not have many issues with my AA. I am firm and direct with her and she knows she will not get anything by me. She knows of my unhappiness with the University and we do not communicate much becuase there is no need.

As far as instructors go, you get what you get. I would think that in my 400 level classes I would have professors but that is not always the case. Also, in my current class my instructor cited WIKIPEDIA in the discussion forum. Really? Further, he has terrible grammar and must not use spell check. Where is his credibility when it comes to grading me? He has none. He gave me a 3.74 out of 4.0 on my last discussion board post. When I asked what I did wrong he said he would check and get back with me. 2 weeks later and I have heard nothing. He makes maybe, 2 posts a week that do not contribute to any type of learning. In my last class, the instructor did not post week 2 grades until the day before the class ended (Week 5). She would not answer student posts requesting answers to why there were no grades posted. I contacted “Instructor Issues” and the e-mail I got stated something to the effect of, “I am so-and-so, appointed to assist Instructor so-and-so.” I e-mailed back asking if he was working for me or the instructor I had issues with. His response was terse and basically told me it was the instructor without being overt about it.

These issues are always in my end of course critiques and I tell them to please contact me for more information. There is never a call because they do not truly care. I have 4 classes left so they know I am pretty much going to stick it out. Transferring now would be stupid of me and they know it.

Ashford used to be a great little secret but is now nothing more than a college that got too big, too fast. They don’t know how to handle it and they are losing credibility. They have turned into the University of Phoenix!

Bob H.

Jan 27, 2012 16:40

I have one class left at Ashford and they dropped me from the class and withdrew me from Ashford, without my knowledge. I had posted in my new class and they claimed I hadn’t and now they say my financial aid may be in jeopardy. It seems very convenient for them that all of a sudden I can not graduate. Up until this issue, things have be relatively good.

Feb 15, 2012 14:59

I’ve been at Ashford for about 2.5 years and have about 10 months left to go to finish my degree. I started college in a traditional fashion, got a couple A.A. degrees but then entered the working world. A couple of years ago (well 2.5 to be exact) I decided to change careers and became suddenly aware that I would need a Bachelors degree, at least, to move through the ranks. Fortunately I had a great opportunity to move into my desired career field with the understanding from my new boss that I finish my degree. This, he explained, was for my own good and I can’t thank him enough for that advice.

Ashford has proven to be a great place to attend school for me. I find the coursework challenging and interesting, the instructors to be pretty good and responsive and the other students to be engaging. It allows me the ability to travel for work and pleasure and still keep up with my school work. As a busy 30 something professional I spend 50 hours a week working, have a house that needs constant maintenance and am active in my community. Ashford’s format allows for all of these activities to take place without requiring me to be at a certain place at a specific time.

Of course it’s not Harvard or Berkley, but it is pretty comparable to a State school from an education perspective. Again, I’ve attended both. The academic counselors can be a pain to deal with at times, but I’ve never had an issue go unresolved for too long. I do not use financial aide so I have no experience with that personally. However, I have read some scathing articles (such as this one) about that side of the business. I find it disappointing and hope that the school gets some well deserved government oversight. To me, this would only help to legitimize the school and its academic offerings.

We should make sure to separate the academic experience and the recruitment tactics when we talk about Ashford, and other for-profits. The academics do not seem to get positive (or any) attention while much of the attention is negative and spotlights the recruitment aspects. The distinction can be tough to identify, but there definitely is one. Hopefully the department of education will force for-profits to have better corporate manners and allow for the academic programs to get more of that spotlight.

Feb 19, 2012 16:33

I have been attending AU online for about 2.5 years and have had nothing but a positive experience. I do not go through the financial aid so I can’t speak about that, but always have been helped by my advisor if there was an issue within a 24 hour period. I can see where the former AA is getting at with it being a young company with younger workers. The lack of education required for staffers would sound disappointing, but at the coordinator level would not be needed. Any AA or staffer I ever dealt with was completely professional and helpful.
I take pride in all of the papers, tests, course work, and discussion post I do weekly online. All papers are graded by an assistant to the course professor and done in APA 6th edition format. There are new requirements for attendance and you can no longer just click away at a few links. To fulfill attendance requirements you must post a topic, post a discussion, conduct research, submit a paper, or do some legitimate course work.
AU is definitely not Harvard or any other top University in the country like another poster replied, but is a good education that serves a purpose for many people who find it difficult to attend college classes in the evening due to a busy schedule.


Feb 28, 2012 2:45

Ashford is laughable and money hungry.. I have attended ashford for three classes now let me tell you two of the classes are not transferable. They never required me to send in my transcripts first off. Then I wouldn’t sign the loan paper ,because I had a grant and my the rest would be covered by fasfa. They then made me sign the loan paper and said I could cancel the loans before they would be charged to me just to get me started. I have had financial and student advisors not return my calls or emails for over weeks repeatedly. Apparently I owe 4,800 in loans now for three classes. My books were covered since I’m military. My grant which was approved for these classes said it was used also, so 3,000 from them just disapeared. They refuse to answer me where this money has gone or give me any receipts or answer emails. The last time my student advisor wrote me she was upset that I needed forms to stop any future loans.. rediculous I am going to Jag this week and going to get this school blacklisted for scam to help any future military personnel.

Jason H.
Mar 2, 2012 7:39

Ok, I attended Ashford for a year and while there are some things in the article I can agree with, my experience at Ashford was not a bad one. I didn’t complete my degree at Ashford simply because the format was not for me… I prefer some personal interaction over all online, 5 week courses. But that being said, I don’t feel like I was lied to or misled in any way upon enrolling.

Although the former adviser in the article does make a valid point about how they can be predatory with their recruitement of students, I believe people have to accountable for their choices as well. The example used regarding the young lady that was upset because she thought she was getting a massage therapy degree… you mean to tell me she nearly completed an associates program and had no idea what she was getting her degree in? How do you do that??? I don’t care what the advisor tries to sell you, you have to do your own research, at very least about the degree your attempting to pursue.

Again, some valid points made, but also some wild accusations. As a previous poster stated, you make of it what you will. Online education is not for everyone, but if you do your research prior to enrolling, you’ll know what to expect. Its the same as if you go to the dealership to purchase a new vehicle, the salesman’s job is to sell you the vehicle, its YOUR job to do the work to ensure that what he says matches reality… meaning make sure your getting the best value, get Carfax reports, etc. The same goes with one of the largest investments many of us make, a collegiate education. No matter what dreams the academic advisor is selling, do your research on the school, the cost, compare other options. And even with the degree you pursue, do your research beforehand to make sure the career you choose is right for you. No degree guarantees a job… to get your return investment with a college education, you have to make yourself marketable to employers. A degree is a piece that can help you get a better job, but its how you present yourself, your skills, and your experience that for the most part seal the deal.

Mar 2, 2012 18:47

I have been a student at Ashford since October 2008. I have completed my BA, and am 4 classes from finishing my Masters. I have not had any issues at all with Ashford. I do know that their recruiters are a bit pushy, but that is true of almost anyone who works in sales and makes their living off of commissions.

I do have to wonder about the two students the advisor speaks of. How do you almost complete your AA and not know what your degree will be in? Also, if a student has “lost touch with reality” how have they accumulated 30,000 in debt? That would mean they are in their third year of school. I have a hard time believing that someone living in their car is able to have internet access necessary to complete 3 years of school. The whole story sounds embellished.

The attendance issue was changed in July of 2011, interesting that this story was written in August, 2011, but the “advisor ” did not know about the change in attendance, which requires more than “clicking on three links” to be considered “present” in class. A student must either post a discussion, take a test, post a final paper, or post a response to a classmate in order to have their attendance count for that day.

To have a balanced story, the author should have tried to interview a real employee from the school, or perhaps students who attend. Protecting the identity of the “advisor” and allowing them to make such accusations really amounts to sour grapes, and becomes meaningless.

it support
Mar 8, 2012 11:53

it support…

[...]Inside Ashford University: A former staffer talks to WiredAcademic | WiredAcademic[...]…

Mar 13, 2012 19:18

I am a Senior with Ashford University. I have been in attendance since 2008. I have never heard of such a thing. I have had issues with too many classes being schedued at one time, or my financial aid coming in late. But, they took responsibility for it. I have learned a lot at the convience of myself. I had the choice of choosing Pheonix, Liberty, Waden, etc…, I decided to go with what was best for myself.

Mar 15, 2012 17:18

I have been a student at Ashford for 2 years and have not had any problems. My financial aid officer and my student advisor did a great job. Now, Ashford has combined that poisition into one but I have not had any problems. I have always received my stipends on time. I have 3 classes to graduate with my MBA and have already landed my dream job with almost double the salary of what I was making.

My wife is getting her BA and hasn’t had any troubles either.

As far as all of the classes being easy, that simply isnt true. Furthermore, it is the same or harder than my BA was from a traditional brick and mortar school. Some profs grade harder then others but overall I am extremely happy with my experience.

Charles Edgerton
Mar 23, 2012 14:41

Sounds like a poor employee crying over spilt milk. How could anyone going into a for-profit organization not realize there are quotas and expectations. I am a very satisfied student of Ashford, but after my last Student Advisor left, I realized I was given misinformation. Perhaps its from the initial poster who was not satisfied with her employment.

Apr 11, 2012 11:53

I graduated Ashford with both a degree in Organizational management and Business Administration. I also had some road bumps to deal with, but I did exactly that-deal with them. Things were difficult when I felt entitled at first, such as a customer might feel, but I persisted and found the right person to deal with the first situation. After that, I made sure to be in control. In each situation, it was usually some form of human error or a simple misunderstanding.

Afterall, this is college. I have heard complaints here that fall far short of reasonable, or are perhaps extremes that fall far out of the norm. I could have easily given up and complained rather than be assertive and find a solution. The entire experience of online education is certainly not about hand holding, like I saw occur during some courses at a local community college. My professors and instructors had amazing accomplishments in their life, and each was more than willing to go the extra mile and answer my questions, but I had to take that extra step. In a few cases, I had email discussions with instructors that went into great depths about their occupational experiences, such as being on the team of one of the largest land deals in Nevada history, or being part of the launching and marketing of well-known, successful products with companies such as Disney. Admittedly, I did change an advisor at one point because of a lack of communication. That request was honored, and I got what I considered a better advisor that was immediately able to help me with my needs.

As far as administrative issues, when I attended the University of Illinois, Chicago, I ran into a similar problem of human error. Interestingly, if one wants to experience impersonal service, then a major university is one way to experience it. At least Ashford has a system that is highly supportive of a student to increase his or her academic success. One simply needs to be assertive and take control of his/ her situation and keep everything in perspective.

I have to wonder: If a student is willing to rest their academic success solely on the administration of a university, then what are they going to do with difficult situations in their careers? I personally do not identify with any part of the article above. My guess it was disgruntled employee that wanted to get back on his/her formal employer. Perhaps that former employee may not have agreed with that academic system and preferred the more familiar academic system of a public university. Likewise, there are people on both sides of the issue of abortion. I would expect the same type of negativity from an employee that was against abortion and who worked for a doctor who performed many abortions. However, I have no context for that theory aside from the article. I also agree that the article is one-sided with no other point of view, which, given my experiences as an Ashford student, makes the article suspect. If one does not do well with the independence required of an online student, then an online degree is simply not for them. For me, for example, classroom study was much easier, at both the University of Illinois and a local community college, than it was online. It is a personal choice.

Apr 12, 2012 19:41

It looks to me that the Ashford University Alumni and current students who bothered to comment are literate. Their writing skills are at least college level. Why on Earth would this former employee call say otherwise?

Seriously, I am currently about to finish my Bachelor’s at Ashford University as well. Even without a Bachelors’ degree, I am already making 40k; so I can see why this employee is bad mouthing her former employer. Another thing I would like to point out is that this disgruntled employee should have called the police, OSHA, or the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement if anything inappropriate or illegal took place at her place of work. Bad mouthing your ex-employer is not just unprofessional; it is quite petty as well. Do you think she learned that in her traditional university?

I, too, attended a traditional university. I can tell you that most of my former classmates need to take English 101 again and again. One of the reasons I decided to ditch the traditional classroom setting is because I didn’t have the time to listen to my classmates ask stupid questions. I know it’s a bit harsh but I am at work all day and at school most afternoons and nights. I did not see a point on continuing this classroom arrangement if I end up preferring to study at home by myself anyway. So you see: illiterate and/or intellectually-challenged students are present in any school regardless of their classroom setting. If some Ashford University students did not even know that they have to pay back their student loans, it’s like referring to half the 20-somethings who does not know the mechanics of the credit card system.

It doesn’t take an enrollment coordinator to lie to a prospective student to make said student believe that he or she will get a good paying job after he or she graduates. It’s a common belief shared by all. This ex-employee who holds a degree was making less than me (who has yet to acquire a degree). So it seems that she was expecting a good paying job when she graduated as well. Shocker: she did not have to attend Ashford University to be making less than she thought she would be making.

By the way, my experience with my enrollment coordinator and academic advisors are positive.

Apr 23, 2012 2:59

I am currently enrolled in Ashford and I have yet to have a negative experience with the school. All of my credits from my traditional brick and mortar school has transferred over along with my CLEPs and my military credits. I guess I have been lucky, because my academic advisors have are knowledgeable in my goals and have been a tremendous help in helping me pursue them. In contrast with this article as my academic career progress, the course work become increasingly challenging, which I enjoy instead of the standard “diploma mill” that many online school appears to offer.

It seems strange that there is an individual who say they were not required to send in their transcripts, I was not required either, but I let my academic advisor know that I had previously taken classes at a brick and mortar school, online classes and I was in the military, and like I stated above all of my classes were transferred which is allowing me to obtain my degree faster. Also I was never required to sign any loans (though it was discuss with me) both my financial advisor and academic advisor know that is not the way I want to go in regards for paying for my education.

I find many of the claims in this article fabricated and highly improbable.

Apr 24, 2012 5:24

Paul Glader, Managing Editor of WiredAcademic. I like that your source is anonymous. I would like to ask him or her if they are saying that I’m a a poor, academically incompetent student? I am offended by the accusation directed at the Ashford staff. My education at Ashford has been the same (if not better) quality, although different in the online environment, than I’ve had in an on campus education. I’ve had quality professors and some who lacked the skills to teach, just as I’ve had on campus.
I’ve had one issue with an academic advisor that was not interested in their job, perhaps that was you, anonymous? I requested another one and received an exceptional replacement. Thank you Steve R and Michelle P.! I thank so many others who have been there throughout my education at Ashford, including my Admission Advisor, William R. You have been an inspiration for me and have supported me throughout my education. I am completing my last class as Ashford and I’m pleased wirh my education. Please don’t believe everything you hear and only half of what you see.

Ronald Smith
Apr 27, 2012 17:04

This was a well-written article by an insider at Ashford University regarding their experiences there as an employee. Although I respect the alleged students that responded. The majority of the responses appear to be coming from BridgePoint’s Public Relations Dept. in an attempt to skew the results. The fact is that Ashford University is in fact a diploma mill. No one is disputing the fact that lots of students are working hard towards their degrees. What is being questioned here is BridgePoint Education’s unethical company recruitment and retention principles in terms of what is and what is not acceptable at a higher Academic accredited Institution. Bonuses for signing up additional students??? 100 plus required calls a day, but never get to see student face to face as an academic advisor? The pressure to work in such a fast-paced environment causes it to have a very high employee turnover…. especially in terms of enrollment advisors and/or academic advisors. The company’s stock price is plunging as more and more federal and military funding is removed due to their questionable practices. A major change underway is their attempt at accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). While this accreditation will add some initial temporary value to the diploma mill that it is….. WASC’s visits and accreditation standards will keep a close eye on what is actually happening inside Ashford U. I suspect that major changes are under way to get the university on par with reputable places such as University of Phoenix. There is a news article on how President Obama just took it upon himself to pass an order requiring places like Ashford U to instill pre-screening guidelines requiring them to inform students of the actual costs, academic rigor, etc. Ashford U will no longer be allowed to operate “fishing” websites that have a military look or appear to represent the government in an effort to lure military staff to enroll using their GI Bill and student loans. Look up article on Associate Press site. I have a feeling BPI’s stock price will begin to fall again as new WASC regulations and the presidential restrictions kick in.

Apr 27, 2012 17:15

Reading many of the above manicured responses from alleged students and graduates begs the suspicion that they may in fact be published as “damage control” tactics using Social Media - a known tactic well developed and implemented at Ashford University. None of their employees are allowed to freely talk to the media! Only PR staff is allowed to give any statements or make comments. I would be curious to interview some of the staff that was laid off from the company in early 2012 as part of their labor staff reduction efforts. 6,000 plus employees work for Ashford U both in Clinton Iowa and in San Diego California.

John Doe
Apr 29, 2012 2:30


I am a student advisor at Ashford University. The academic advisor and financial services provider positions have since merged since this article was written to create the student advisor position. I can say in all honesty that this article is an accurate description of Ashford University. There are numerous issues with Ashford that will not get resolved unless the government regulates the company and the industry. Due to government regulations the admissions department has gotten better, however the entire company is completely flawed. I could go on and on about issues at Ashford. Point blank: If you are a student attending Ashford University, you should probably reconsider your choice of college. Please remember, this post is coming from an employee of the university who understands how and why things are done. Everything at AU is done with profits being the motivator.

Apr 30, 2012 11:37

@Richard Smith I do not work for Ashford University. Why don’t you interview each one of us who responded here? Why can’t you accept the fact that students who attend Ashford University are not dumb? Is this response manicured enough for you?

So the people who work for Ashford University are not happy with their jobs. It does not make the students any dumber. If the Ashford staff is unhappy, go get another J-O-B!

May 12, 2012 15:16

I am working on my Masters @ Ashford. I am overall pleased with my program. I have noticed that there were a few corners cut for me so I can start school that would not have been cut if I was attending a non-profit school. But to be honest, I really don’t care. I do get 2 or 3 calls a week from various advisors who probably are filling some type of quota, but it is nice to have the interaction. I surely didn’t get that type of interaction when I got my undergraduate degree from one of the largest colleges in the country.

I don’t want to put forth the impression that I feel it is okay for companies to treat their staff inappropriately, but if Ashford is doing this, they need to be reported to the correct people, not blasted on a blog. Just saying…

May 22, 2012 21:23

I just recently applied for fasfa and just signed the Transcript Request only a couple hours ago. I have been pushing college aside for a while and now finally am ready to fulfill it. I loved the program that the lady I chatted with on the phone explained to me about, but am very scared now after reading these, if I am in for a scam or not? I would appreciate any advice at all before going too far * if I haven’t already * this is all very new to me and really can’t afford to be scammed * as I know most of us can’t * thank you to any who may be able to help me.

May 29, 2012 20:32

Seriously, this place is like a Cult - look at the comments saying that this article is untrue - it’s like they didn’t even try to make it sound like they aren’t ashford employees.

An “admissions counselor” came to a retail store i worked at a few years ago. i made the mistake of giving them my email and phone, which they used 2x a week each, often with calls and emails that were borderline agressive. I asked them repeatedly to stop contacting me, my requests were ignored. I blocked the guy’s email address and had to change phone #s for work, so i had almost forgot about them until another email came in today from them, from a different employee. I linked them to this article and blocked the domain altogether.

Jun 9, 2012 15:58

I am about to start my third year at Ashford. I am currently working towards getting my BA in criminal and social justice as well as a BA in psychology. I have had an instructor and TA who refused to help me, so I withdrew from the class. Because I didn’t want my GPA to be affected. I have had classes that were easy for me in the beginning but now I am challenged beyond belief to maintain my GPA. When I started you just had to log into class three times but they have changed that. My advisor always returns my calls and if he isn’t sure about something he finds out and lets me know. My financial aide has been slow in coming to me at times. But overall I am happy with the school.

Jun 10, 2012 23:33

This article was very well written, and I would recommend prospective students read this, and do your research on the university, and on student loans. I am almost done with my Associates degree in Early Childhood Education. I have had nothing but a positive experience with the university. Attending online classes has given me the time I need to get my work done, focus on one class at a time, and beable to be there for my kids. I had a minor issue where I needed to use financial aid funds due to my husband being out of work, and financial aid was quick with issuing a stipend. I have not had any major issues where I needed to contact my AA. If people just go along and do their work as assigned and contact their instructor when necessary, all experiences can be pleasant. I agree completely with what has been mentioned a few times in comment here: you only get out of your education what you put into it. So again, I repeat my advice. Do your research on the school, student loans, and financial aid. Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.

Jun 12, 2012 3:35

I graduated from Ashford University in April of this year with my Bachelors in Social and Criminal Justice and I paid my graduation fee; however, because the Financial Aid Department neglected to pay for one of my e-books BEFORE they sent me my stipend, my transcripts and degree are on hold which is delaying me from receiving a raise at my job. When I contacted my student adviser and explained the situation to her, I was told that I should have been checking my account to make sure everything was in order. This may be well and true, and considering the fact that I have a full-time job and was diligently working on my homework, when would I have had the time to do this? And if I was checking on my Financial Aid account, what did I need them for? I asked to have this unexpected additional fee waived, but was told no. That it was my responsibility. Now, because of other financial obligations, I don’t know when I will receive my transcripts or my degree. I worked too hard for 18 long months not to get them. There was no compassion or empathy shown. And they wanted me to come back for my Masters. I was considering it, but after I thought about how I was treated, I told them, “Thanks, but no thanks, “

Erin Moore
Jun 13, 2012 22:58

I have been a student with Ashford for almost four months now, and I am going to be withdrawing. I knew something was wrong when I had to find out that there was going to be a technology fee of $1,247.00 from another student on the University’s facebook page. This fee was going to be taken from my first stipend check, and my financial aid adviser did not tell me about it at all. I asked at least two times if there were going to be any fees for anything at all and I was told NO.

I made a total of four calls and 3 emails to my financial aid adviser about the fee. After 2 1/2 weeks, I finally get a call. When I asked why I was not told about the technology fee, I was told, “This is outlined in the student handbook”. My jaw just about dropped. Well, of course, I should have sat down and read the entirety of the handbook, however, when I asked if there were going to be any fees, the FA’s job IS to inform me of any and all fees. Period. Regardless of where they put it in writing, the FA should have told me. So after that issue, I didn’t feel like I could trust Ashford, and since then I have had a gnawing feeling in my stomach about going to school here.

When I posed a complaint on the Ashford facebook page, I was told by a group of “regulars” that post there every day that it was MY problem that I didn’t know there was a tech fee, and that it was in the student handbook. I was quite curious about the fact that these 3 posters on facebook were parroting exactly what the FA had told me on the phone. So I started to watch the page a little, and I noticed something fishy. That these 3 posters claimed to be students, all having gotten their Bachelor’s and were all working toward a Masters but they seemed to have time to post and field complaints such as mine all day long. This is not an exaggeration. Any time a student posted a complaint about FA, they were were right there, answering the question and defending Ashford’s policies. I have seen these people out and out BLAME the student who complained in the first place. The other day I noted a woman who said she started in March 2012, and that as of June 2012, still has not received a stipend on the 100% plan. She stated she needed the money to get a laptop for school. Shortly after, the group of 3 chime in and start accusing her that she’s in school just for the stipend checks. It was awful. After watching these 3 for sometime, I have come to the conclusion that they are NOT Ashford students. They are hired employees to pose as students on the facebook site to answer and defend Ashford’s policies. It’s just uncanny, and it’s so obvious what is taking place.

Aside from this, I’m withdrawing and going to a brick and mortar school. I’m done with the ridiculous discussion posting assignments each week, where I have to post among students who are genuinely illiterate and can barely spell and write in complete sentences. In my ENG121 course, my instructor teaches students in her “guidance” with a sock monkey puppet on youtube video with her or her husband making a “muppet voice”.

I’m done with the dishonesty and the silliness.

Jun 19, 2012 16:01

Really do not know where to start this because I was reading the posts for a reason different than most. The reason is that I have started a complaint with the Iowa Attorney General’s consumer fraud division. They have taken the case on and opened an investigation concerning the misuse of federal monies (financial aid). As a couple of individuals posted, a school’s financial aid office does have an obligation through professional judgment to verify a student’s loan and stipend status. Also, a school is obligated to deduct fees and tuition prior to issuing a disbursement (stipend check). Much of this is covered under 34 CFR 685 and other federal regulations. In my case Ashford issued an account statement at graduation that I had a zero balance and needed only to pay the graduation fee. Then a few months later they issued a new account statement saying I owed them over $ 8, 000.00 because they had to refund the alleged amount. None of this levels out with the records I have kept, obtained from lenders, and data on the NSLDS website. The reason Ashford claims for this balance is that they had originated loans in excess of the aggregate loan limits which violates federal restrictions. “Schools that certify/originate loans for ineligible borrowers, or for loan amounts that exceed loan limits or the borrower’s need, are subject to administrative sanctions such as fines, limitations, suspension, and termination, as well as liabilities such as repayment to the government of interest and special allowance costs it has paid on the ineligible loans.”
If you have a similar situation existing with Ashford then please email at [email protected] and I will forward your email to the Department of Justice investigator who is investigating my case. It will not only help support mine and many others claims but will expose further the fraudulent practices of Ashford University. This issue is also on the table of the U.S. Department of Education’s Inspector General and others. Being a former advocate I am preparing articles for a couple newsletters in which I have a history to publicize many of the issues existing with Ashford. Again, please contact me if Ashford is holding your transcripts or diploma, because of alleged fees. Also, if you have seen weird activities taking place with your financial aid then please email me.

Matt C.
Jun 21, 2012 20:24

A friend of mine just finished her MA at Ashford, and as it turns out the thing really isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. They strung her along, and now that she’s finished they are not returning her calls or answering her questions. The state licensing board for her chosen profession isn’t accepting her degree, and she’s essentially wasted her time and money. Every person I’ve ever known who has attended a for-profit university has ended up getting the shaft. Avoid them at all costs.

Jun 25, 2012 13:36

I was an Enrollment Advisor (now called an Enrollment Counselor) when this article was written. There is at least one huge inaccuracy in this article. We were paid a salary, and there was no commission received when a student enrolled. My success was definitely determined by the number of students I enrolled, but it was not a commission structure.

I also did not (and do not) fit the demographic (young) of those described in the article; nor did a number of those on my team. A number of co-workers were definitely young enough to be my children for sure…but there were enough in my age group to where I didn’t feel completely out of place.

I was laid off from my career and took a 60% pay cut to join Ashford-and at the beginning of 2009, was thankful to get it. I’ve been able to return to my former career but when I left Ashford, I was doing very well. The person interviewed for this article probably was not doing well, which is why he/she included false information along with facts.

Jul 3, 2012 16:56

To the military people who feel takin advantage of please go to IAVA website and share your story about this college to help warn other vets and military not to attend. Dont let these coorporations take advantage of your TA, and GI Bills.

Ashford Employee
Jul 5, 2012 23:41

I recently worked for Ashford as an Admissions Counselor. I started working there after the new government regulations that said you couldn’t get commission for “selling” education. It is still blatantly obvious that this is what is going on at the company. They actually say not to call it “the company” even though it is a company. I had researched the company and the position when I started working there (including this post), but I just couldn’t handle it in reality. Basically, if you ever requested information on the internet about going back to school, or even if you didn’t and Ashford buys your info somehow, you won’t get out of their database unless you specifically say the words “remove me from the database.” In my hiring interview I asked whether if people said they weren’t interested we had to call them again and the answer was “no.” Well, that was a lie. ACs keep notes on every phone call with students and some of the notes go back to 2007! That’s five years of these people getting calls. Nothing is a good enough excuse for why a student doesn’t want to go back to school - your wife had a heart attack and you have to look after her? Your friend/son/daughter/loved one was murdered? You are already enrolled in a different school? You don’t have a computer? You didn’t mean to request information? You have already been fielding calls for over a year and been telling them you’re not interested? Too bad, the expectation is that as an Admissions Counselor you should talk to these people and somehow get them to see that school is the answer to all of their problems. I just don’t buy it. A BA from a well-renowned and reputable university is not guaranteed to get you a good or high-paying job. Think about how much this company charges in tution, then think about the high wages they pay Admissions Counselors and how many ACs there are, all trying to harass unwilling people into going to school every day. Why pay your good money for an inferior education to pay salespeople’s salaries? They say they’re not salespeople but really they are, and if you don’t “sell” to enough students you get fired, not right away maybe, but if you’re not getting students you’re not making money for the company and they won’t keep you around. I also looked at some of their own online textbooks and I found 5 grammatical mistakes in the introductory paragraph of one of them. Plus the courses are 5 weeks long and nowhere near comparable to the amount of work a BA takes at a regular university or college. I just could not in good conscience continue to work at this place. I didn’t even want to enroll students and if you can’t do that you don’t belong there. The language has changed since the government investigation and new laws, but the premise is still the same, make money of off unsuspecting people who probably shouldn’t go to college in the first place. This is in no way to denigrate the many Ashford students who work hard to get their degree around work/family committments and are justly proud of their achievements, but such self-starter students are few and far between I feel. It seems like most students have to be cajoled and called often just to keep them posting in class. If they can’t be bothered to do it on their own maybe they shouldn’t be in school, and maybe a “university” who accepts anyone with a GED and a computer isn’t really worth a whole lot. Maybe the government should take a second look at schools like this. Aren’t they just taking taxpayers’ hard-earned money in the form of student loans, making a profit from those loans, and saddling people who really can’t afford it with more debt than they can ever pay back? A degree from a community college would be much cheaper and worth just as much in the real world.

Ashford Employee
Jul 5, 2012 23:44

And to Matt C. On the Ashford website it says that none of the degrees prepare or qualify a student for licensure in any profession. You have to do that yourself separately. They have a BA in Real Estate Studies, but you can just study for and take the Realtor exam, you don’t need a college degree for that. It seems like this school has degress in things that you don’t even need a degree for really. It’s weird.

Jul 13, 2012 5:53

I’m really not sure of the validity of this article. First off the AA is anonymous, not exactly credible. And well some of the details are accurate, there are inaccuracies and certain terms are just wrong. Admission Coordinators? As a former AC, I know that was never a title used by the company. Commission wasn’t paid as you would normally think of the term. AU used a steps program called the “matrix” and evaluated performance every 6 months. The matrix was gone before I started, but starting wages were determined based on education achievement. No you didn’t need a college degree, but you would make less if you didn’t. When I started in August 2011 the starting pay was 41k/year with a bachelor degree. Not sure what it was under the matrix. I just have trouble taking this article seriously with some of these mistakes, even though I agree with the general position of the piece.

Jul 14, 2012 0:08

All I have to say is “WOW!” I am currently a student at AU and graduated with a BA in psychology from this school. When I first started I was excited about the whole process of going back to school. I have since changed my outlook now that I am in a Masters program . I am having a current serious issue with an instructor and I have made the decision to look for another school to transfer to. This will be effective immediately. All of the posts have been very helpful, but especially those posts made by former staff members. It all makes sense now about the few things I have questioned yet got the dance around reply to. I often wondered how it is that most other schools I have talked to either discussed setting me up with information on testing in order to get certified/licensed for a specific program, but Ashford didn’t. An example of this would be of course psychology (you must take the GRE). Why offer a program that you really can’t do anything with but are going to pay thousands for? I am partly to blame since I was sold the BS after I graduated with my associates from a local community college, and let my excitement about getting back into school for a higher education blind my judgement for awhile. Now after this instructor has bought light to my eyes, I have to thank her instead of wanting to cuss her out. I am glad I just completed only 2 of my so called Masters curriculum. When I do find a new school I am curious to see how many credits will transfer from this school. This has been a learning experience for sure! Thank you AU for teaching about fraud. Best wishes truly to those students who were scammed as well!

Jul 27, 2012 3:58

Ashford is a joke, they care nothing about you just how much money they can suck out of you! I must admit their little “pitch” to get you signed up is pretty good, I’m a pretty good judge of things and even I was suckered. I took five classes and even though I found many things I didn’t like I stuck it out wanting to better my kids future and my own. I thought the classes were pathetic and the teachers even more so, I’m pretty sure they got their teaching degrees out of a cereal box! And then it got worse, I failed one class and shouldn’t have, I had an A and over the weeks I noticed I was getting underscored on assignments but once again I let it pass and then I failed another class and this time I disagreed with the teacher on a discussion question so she decided to not grade my final assignment. I pitched the biggest fit but of course nothing was done about it. So my therory is they fail students just to make more money, so I quit and am now attending another school I’m quite pleased with. So my advice is don’t attend this school and if your already a student get out asap or you will have nothing to show for it and I mean absolutely nothing! Btw great article, this person was very accurate about this school!

Jul 27, 2012 21:38

@Mel, Are you still getting financial aid for your new school and did you get it right away or was there a wait? Who all did you contact to withdraw? Thanks

Former Denver Employee
Aug 2, 2012 11:31

The place is a scam and nothing more. Any company with a reasonable appreciation for education will treat a degree from Ashford University the same as they would a GED. Basically, you’re going to pay a VERY high price for a degree that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
My experience as an Admissions Counselor was the REAL learning experience. I figured out rather quickly that their “instructors” were far from the educated professionals they tried to sell on us during training. I took the required “Student Success Orientation” class meant to make us familiar with the online classes our students would be taking so that we could better service them. What a joke! First of all, I turned in all required assignments and posted on all required discussions, but was told I failed the class. I emailed my instructor asking for an explanation and was told I didn’t turn in one assignment. I looked up the “missing” assignment and emailed my instructor not only the assignment, but the date and time it was sent. I got an email a few days later saying “Oh, when I went back and looked I found it”. I was then given credit for the assignment. The rest of the email was full of grammatical errors and the sentence structure was atrocious. I was beyond shocked that THIS was the type of “highly qualified” instructors I had heard so much about during training.
As an AC, you are expected to enroll any student that qualifies for financial aid and never take “no” for an answer. “Oh, your father/brother/son just died? Well, don’t you think he’d want you to go back to school?”, “You don’t have a computer? I’m sure there’s a library near you, or maybe you could borrow one from a friend or family member”, “Oh dear, you’re dying of cancer? Well heck, why not have something positive to focus on”, “you want to become a nurse? Well, I hope you like cleaning up vomit and changing bedpans”. No, this is NOT an exaggeration, these things (and much more) were actually said.
You’re encouraged to build rapport and trust, highlight motivation. The sad truth is, 90% of these prospective students have a very poor vocabulary and undesirable communication skills. A high majority are former drug addicts and ex-cons. An even sadder truth is that most of them will NEVER be able to pay back the loans, so who does that fall on? The taxpayer, of course! Ashford does have a seperate military department which is reserved for the more intelligent student population.
I could go on and on about the problems at Ashford, but I’m currently involved in a class-action lawsuit with other former employees (30-40% of the Denver staff was fired on July 10th, 2012, after AU was denied its WASC accreditation). Their remaining accreditation is also at risk so if you’re currently attending you might want to consider changing schools before their Title IV funding is revoked.
Don’t let their new cutesy commercials about how “technology changes everything” fool you. The only change you can expect from Ashford is a change in your debt. Before you know it you’ll be so deep into debt from student loans you won’t be able to finance a pack of gum.
When Ashford calls, do yourself a HUGE favor….tell them “remove me from your calling list”. It’s actually the smartest thing you CAN do.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an article about Bridgepoints CEO, named “The Greediest Man of 2010″.

Aug 5, 2012 23:52

This article is pretty much a smack in the face to those who hold pride in their position and have passion for their students. I’ve been working at Ashford IN admissions (the enemy according to article) for well over a year now and I’m pretty much calling this article nonsense. It wasn’t a magic carpet ride but this is too much. There is way too much to touch base upon but I’ll try to start at the top. First off, financial aid… I do my best to talk my students all about financial aid and let them know the ins and outs of how it works. The Pell aspect, the loan aspect, etc. I even encourage them to use their remaining pell that gets dispersed to them to put towards their loans if they year is paid off. We work with our students best interest at heart! It is up to them to go from there. Because a student decides to take their pell grant funds and put it towards non-education related things, doesn’t put Ashford at fault. Also, though you take one class at a time and for 5 weeks, we can’t just pull 5 weeks worth of loans or pell money from financial aid. It’s paid out with the idea that you are going for a full semester (4-5 classes) because that’s how semesters run.We’re not trying to put the student more in debt just because. Ask questions and you will get answers!!
In regards to retention, yes it’s huge for any school, profit or non- profit. It looks poorly on a school should they have students dropping from left to right so yes, we do call our students to ensure that they remember to post their assignments and it does not stop at this 80% mark. I honestly have never even heard of that so that’s inaccurate.
If there’s a program that they want and we don’t have it, I HELP them find a school that does and is accredited (just like Ashford by the way), that offers great grants for service members and that has a format that would work for them. Nor I or any other ACs (admissions counselors) I work beside make empty promises, especially to our military members.
I know one student mentioned a grievance about one extra class he was told he had to take out of the blue, I know it’s frustrating and it seems like you were misled but by no means think that it’s been done on purpose. The reason it was done is because requirements and standards are changed on a yearly basis just about by the DOE, stating that these are the requirements for these specific degrees, one year a class can fill that requirement the next it won’t. This DOES NOT just happen at Ashford but schools all over, it happened to me when I attended a state school back in NY. Was I frustrated?! Heck yes I was! But it’s not the school that determines what fulfills what requirement all the time, they change to the standards of the DOE to keep their accreditation.
Work load- the number of clicks you make in a class? Somewhat of a lie. A student needs to post a homework assignment to make attendance, it’s not just logging and clicking around (this former AA is just annoying me now). Even then, if they don’t complete all of their assignments or submit them on time, they can log in all they want but they won’t pass the course. As for the quizzes, yes they can make it more challenging that’s true but then again I’ve had college classes that were just about the same level of difficulty so there goes that.
Finally, oh sweet goodness!!!! Really with the work place behavior? Coke in the bathrooms? As an earlier comment said, where was her ethics and “do- good” persona when she saw this? Call the cops! The energy drinks…yea that tends to be the case sometimes because the position can be monotonous, you’re at a desk, hearing dial tones all day and watching a screen, so do you need a burst of energy? Yes you do (and no, not coke or speed etc.) get a grip.
On a final note, I truly enjoy working at Ashford, though other departments can get frustrating (Academic Advisors being one…go figure) that’s the case many places. We do not get paid on a matrix or commission based though we do have to meet goals they are totally within reach and reasonable (it’s a job, there are expectations, get over it). I am proud to say that I work alongside ethical ACs who truly do want the best for their students as we all are military affiliated as well. I like to consider myself a person of high ethics, morale and integrity, I would not be able to sleep at night knowing I misguided a student or lied to them, I wouldn’t work here if it was a requirement of success. In all honesty, this person interviewed had not one positive thing to say about Ashford and was clearly a disgruntled employee for whatever reason (laid off for laziness? lack of passion? who knows), I hope her next position is more fitting for her for both her sake and for her employers, if not they can expect a similar article about them upon her departure.

Ashford U student
Aug 21, 2012 9:28

@former Denver employee: Why would Ashford U loose their remaining accreditation?
@Anonymous Ashford Employee is it ideal for Ashford students to set aside money to pay costs that may occur at end of a semester due to changes in DOE requirements? I am not speaking of federal financial aid Grants. I am using G.I. Bill benefits.

Don Bishop
Aug 21, 2012 15:44


i have to agree with you. The school is not perfect by any means, but the intention is to help students actually succeed. I do not approve of the processes for keeping or letting go of employees but if you do your work and do your best you are fine. There are no commissions and the Department Of Education is all over the for profit schools so they do walk a fine line. The for profit schools take the most heat because the government wants more money in their pockets. The people that post the negativity are those that did not succeed as an employee or had issues with their financial aid. For those of you that were not successful, I feel some empathy for you. I will say, however, that taking responsibility for your part would be a good step.

Aug 21, 2012 17:49

I have been tutoring a student from AU and all I can say is that the standards are so low the school should be shut down pronto!!!!

Aug 24, 2012 15:23

That sounds like a bunch of the normal rhetoric….That is blaming the government for the illegal practices of a for-profit corporation….I personally have seen their misuse of federal funds and have pursued actions to have sanctions placed on them…..Ashford acts like a diploma mill and hands out degrees to anyone…..I know because I made straight As on the master level for three master programs…..Degrees that are generally worthless in comparison to a legit university….

Cuddle Collars
Aug 24, 2012 17:20

Dear Don Bishop that posted on August 21, 2012.

I could not disagree with your statement more. “The people that post negativity are those that did not succeed as an employee or had issues with their financial aid”

The people that are having problems with the financial aid with Ashford University are stating a fact. The enrollment counselors will testify as to the misrepresentation that is given to new students to only get that person enrolled. It is an injustice and I am sure it will come to an end soon. It is in plain sight robbery of funds given from the Federal Government. The school uses many address to avoid problems with the government loan process and the lack of Accreditation. They have been denied Regional, and only the campus is accredited, so they use that address to obtain funding. The online school has been denied.

Aug 30, 2012 13:19

I, personally, have had a positive experience with Ashford University. One thing I would like to put out there that not many people think about is the fact that you cannot expect the advisors and counselors to do all the work. As an adult and student, you need to take it upon yourself to do the required research before enrolling in ANY college or university. I did that research. I knew the pros and cons before I even enrolled for my Associate’s. I recently graduated at the beginning of August ’12 and was planning on returing for my Bachelor’s. I found out about the accredidation stuff and it scared me. What did I do? I researched and made lots of phone calls, not only to the school, but to the people who have accredited Ashford and the people who recently denied them. I realized that continuing my education with them was still the right thing to do. They are doing their best to comply with the requirements and will continue to be accredited at least until 2014. I would also like to add that they have not lost this accredidation since the 50′s. Look, yes, they are a for-profit university, but people have to make money. Fact of life. And yes, they have a lot to do considering they have grown so much in the last few decades, especially with the addition to the online courses, but they are a good school. I have been challeneged by the school work and my teachers. While not every experience with my teachers have been positive, the majority have been. Also, my advisors and counselors have always been there when I needed them. If they don’t answer right away, they always return my calls or my emails in a timely fashion. No college or university is going to be perfect and to expect that is ridiculous. What I find the most amusing is that a lot of the complaints come from the employees rather than the students. Those students who do complain did not do their own research before enrolling or were expecting to skate through the classes with ease- well, it doesn’t happen that way. College is hard work, as it should be. I just wish people would stop complaining so much. If you don’t like them, take your money and yourself somewhere else. Easy as that. Not everyone has horrible experiences, and those that do- they could have those same experiences at any other college or university as well.

Rhonda Tuman
Sep 5, 2012 14:57

I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ashford’s online program. I found the work challenging and interesting. Sure, there were ways that could have improved the educational experience, but I come from a state that is so far behind in online education that just the availablity of accredited programs was a blessing.

My bachelor’s experience was ideal; I had a wonderful enrollment coordinator and academic counselor. He was attentive, seemed really interested in me and my success. He checked in with me from time to time and when I moved on to the next person, he remained a resource.

My master’s experience wasn’t as ideal; I had a serries of awful academic counselors, one who left the country for three weeks and every time I called his colleagues covered for him (he’s away from his desk, on the telephone, etc.). Since I work in higher education I am familiar with the roles people play in dealing with students, who, what, etc. I had a series of family tragedies in a short space of time and my GPA fell below 3.0 (barely) and I was thrown out of the program without any notice (as I was supposed to have according to the student handbook). I fell asleep at the computer working on my last paper for a class, the day before my father’s funeral. I didn’t know I could ask for an extension considering the situation. I failed the class by one point. What appalled me the most was that I was notified via email several days later that I was thrown out of the master’s program (on the way home from putting my dog down, she was 16 years old and the most important part of my life. When I contacted the school, the financial aid counselor, who was now also the academic counselor, referred me to the student handbook. I contacted the President of the university and pointed out that if I were an on site student I would have access to the dean of students, dean of instruction, and a whole host of people face to face that I could discuss my situation. I pointed out that distance education students should have equal access to the services and personnel that on site students have access to.

Within two hours the Dean of Students called me, that was 6 p.m. EST on Friday, and he was wonderful. He listened to me, took my case to the committee for readmission, and followed through several days later to tell me that I was granted readmission. Mr. Nolan, Kevin Nolan, acted like a real dean of students, who is the advocate for students on campus.

I graduated this past spring and while there are ways that the delviery of education to distance learning students can be improved; it is also the responsiblity of the student to advocate for themselves; and to rattle chains when necessary. The adjunct faculty that I had as professors where competent and experienced in the field; they were accessible; responded within 24 hours. I don’t believe the fulltime faculty issue is of a high priority for distance education students, as long as the faculty are qualified. A greater use of technology to provide face to face learning and discussions would have enhanced my experience; however, when I tried to set up chat sessions with some of my classmates, they felt that discussion groups worked for them.

I can go on how to make Ashford University more user-friendly for distance education students, how the casse loads of advisiors and selection of advisors can be improved; however, the bottom line is that the educational staff was almost flawless, and isn’t that what’s more important? All of the rest is technical issues and customer service training.

Rhonda Tuman
MAMO 2012

Sep 10, 2012 10:01

1st if you had such a wonderful time at Ashford and got all A’s bla bla, why would we want to hear about it? This article and comments have been about issues about improvement/problems, and reality checks for those that have not looked outside of their own box(who have not had problems, or those who may be future students.
I had only 1 class with them so far, so does my experience pale in front of those who laud their 25? I will bullet note things I factually encountered;

-My Admissions Counselor claimed multiple times that he is on commission
-My AC would use every reason he could to make me take classes despite serious demands in my life. Unemployment, new job, death of a family member, and yes even lines of “If your unemployed at least you can be doing something positive in your life school, then you could get a job” How could I pay to go to school when I barely can support myself?
-The AC would pursue me no matter how much I told him when or not to call. IE, During work hours!!!!
-After I’ve taken the one class I’ve yet to hear anything from anyone ever again now that they have some of my money apparently.
-The Instructor I had, had serious problems with keeping students from plagiarizing. Mostly because every time I made him aware of the problem he simply retorted that he didn’t see anything wrong or unethical. Despite the fact that people were blatantly copying and pasting others work as their own.
-The Instructor and their assistant had very different grading structures and expectations, making it almost impossible to coordinate what was required for an accurate assignment.
-The Instructor would post discussions and the assistant would grade, and that was the only way it went down the whole time.
-And yes it is TRUE, that most the students in my class could barely communicate, and most of the discussion assignments looked like it had been typed in code by a texting 13yr old girl, or a hamster penned up on a keyboard. And worse yet the instructor would respond by perceivingly copy and pasted comments from past classes to such posts?????
-The Assistant poorly graded one of my papers because I used a source that was invalid and inaccurate…Although the Instructor Himself wrote the book for the class itself that I sourced???

So with these notes on the board I will say this. Yes its an online college and you get what you put into it, but if those people(Instructors/staff) don’t care about you, you will only get what they allow. And unfortunately since it is distance learning you have to wage war and siege against the system to get anything done about wrongdoings. And even then they disregard and dissuade your complaints. It’s like dealing with the mafia, if they happen to like you your golden, but if you have a problem they saw “what problem?” and “ahhh forget about it”.

Now I have only one class invested, but these are some serious education issues to deal with If I continue. I believe my best advice is to either attend a physical school, or make sure you attend a online school that is short driving from your home. So that way you can physically content with issues that may arise and keep the people in control with your money and education Honest and fair.

Current Teaching Assistant
Sep 21, 2012 3:28

I am currently an adjunct teaching assistant at Ashford, and I would like to share my perspective on the university from the position of someone that grades writing assignments and deals regularly with the students.

As a TA, I am almost always assigned to what Ashford refers to as an “entry point” class. As the name implies, these classes are ones that are among the first that a student might take at the institution. Thus, my report may not reflect every instructor’s experience.

When I refer to myself as an instructor, I do mean just that. TAs are paid $1000 per five-week class, compared to the $1200 that “associate faculty” members are paid. We are almost on equal footing, and we operate as co-instructors that present a united front to classrooms of 40-60 students. Most “associate faculty” either hold a master’s degree in their field, along with considerable teaching experience, or are ABD at another school. Instructional Design, rather than English, tends to be the most common degree that an ABD adjunct holds.

Instructor quality tends to vary. The best associate faculty members I’ve worked with have all been trained in traditional English master’s programs. Since they tend to actually know the content that they are teaching, their expertise comes through. I’ve also worked with many clueless instructors. Like all people, they are a mixed bag. I’ve yet to work with anyone that has actually completed a PhD program, however.

The quality of the students varies considerably. I have encountered a few brilliant students, and I’ve encountered ones that couldn’t figure out how to punctuate sentences or turn off the caps lock. This is what one has to expect at an open-enrollment institution. The students that ultimately succeed in these classes, however, are the ones that are willing to unlearn their bad habits. These are the students that would have succeeded in a traditional classroom, or would have had a good chance of success at a smaller institution where they receive more one-on-one attention. Yes, there are many former drug addicts and ex-cons among the students, but there are a few that actually succeed. If they put the effort in, they will get the grade.

The curriculum in the English courses, at least, is surprisingly well thought out. The assignments in Intro to Literature, for example, require that the students do extensive research, synthesize complex ideas, and make sophisticated connections between written works. Many of the students simply don’t get what is being asked of them, and those are the ones that will ultimately fail, despite our best efforts to coach them towards a more complete understanding. Grades usually reflect an inverted bell curve.

Regarding the incomprehensibility of discussion board postings:
Teaching Assistants are required to provide a certain level of feedback within papers, and grammar is considered to be a “minor concern,” below even the enforcement of APA 6th edition formatting. Thus, while poor grammar is a common issue, the focused instruction needed to encourage students to follow proper conventions is not offered. This is a major weakness of the overall focus of the Writing Services department.

Ashford also has a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism on written assignments, although I have encountered some associate faculty members that are “wet noodles” regarding this policy. However, this is the area in which I have the most difficulty with students as a TA, as I am the one that has to do the cross-checking. Some will go so far as to file administrative action against the instructors, despite the evidence that we have through Turnitin and a little Google-Fu that a student’s submission is copypasta from a paper mill. (And, by the way, Ashford is great about backing its instructors up on this. Administration knows that many of the non-traditional students suffer from a persecution complex, and will often think that the instructors are targeting them specifically. The truth is that we have so many students that it’s difficult to remember names, let alone target them.)

It’s true that the classes are large and impersonal, but students that reach out for help almost always get it… provided that they don’t just put up the verbal equivalent of an SOS. Those that feel that instructors aren’t responding to their concerns often don’t communicate them in a clear way, which is ultimately related to the root of the problem. Again, the quality and personal investment of the instructors differs, but most of us genuinely want the students to succeed. Remember that we have 60-120 students at any given time, and part of the way that we respond to students is developed out of self-preservation.

Sep 29, 2012 1:22

Wow… Just look at all the supposed Ashford students and graduates who came out of the woodwork on this… FISHY. Smells like paid PR spamming the article to cover Ashford and the parent’s company’s behind.

Sep 29, 2012 20:31

I am halfway through my Masters program at Ashford. After reading all these comments, I want to say that when I accepted my Master’s Program, I knew what was expected of me. I have to commit myself to participating in weekly discussions, reading the material and turning in weekly assignments plus a 10-15 page paper at the end of every six weeks.

I’m confused at some of the replies here that complain about communicating with the AA and phone calls, etc. I was clearly informed of what was expected of me at the beginning and have never even needed to talk to anybody. My financial aid is running as planned and so are my courses. I know what I have to do and I do it. We are all adults here and should know what is expected of us….then do it.

Lionel Harris
Sep 29, 2012 23:40

I attended Ashford University for 5 years, receiving first my BA, followed by my Masters Degree. It is an Online University; therefore, I do not know or understand how the AA questioned would think they would be seeing the students. I not only had communication from the time I started, but after completion I called the first AA I had assigned to me and although I had to leave a message, she returned the call, remembered me, and congratulated me. My Masters is in education and I am employed in Education. I am quite satisfied with them as a College. Was the University perfect? NO. However, I wasn’t the perfect student, but I tried, and in every situation situation they helped me work through the problem.

Lionel Harris
Sep 29, 2012 23:52

I take offense to being called someone getting paid and coming out the woodwork for PR. No one from Ashford knows I am writing these statements. I am a past student, not now or never was on their payroll, and wonder why so many negative statements are being made.
Check out complaints about Harvard or Yale or any other University. You don’t here anything about the famous ones. Do your homework.

Paul Glader
Oct 1, 2012 14:36

Some of you may be interested in this post we just put up today. More to come.

In response to our popular post (Inside Ashford University: A Former Staffer Talks to WiredAcademic), we received this note from a former Admissions Counselor at Ashford University. The person shared some other internal documents to back up her explanation of new lead generation quotas at the school. Bottom line: The idea of quotas for staff at a for-profit school doesn’t lend itself to good ethics or long-term success in recruiting and retaining students. It’s an incentive that can encourage staff to pressure or deceive students to meet numbers requirements. It lends itself to the bottom line of Wall Street … maximizing shareholder value (and shareholders tend to care about the stock price and fundamentals growth rather than the success of students). Instead, Ashford should lend itself to the bottom line of creating a long-term valuable institution that values students and their education more than profit-hungry investors…

Oct 13, 2012 15:25

As a current student at Ashford, I can say that the school is a joke. I had signed on the get my A.A. in Registered Nursing, and a number of the classes that I have taken had nothing to do with becoming an R.N. I should have known from the start that something was not right about this school. This article and the numerous emails and phone calls from my “academic advisor” just proved it for me (one of those emails concerning a “payment plan” we both agreed with). I will be transferring to an actual college on Monday.

Leilani Luia
Nov 7, 2012 20:01

I have been attending Ashford for over a year. I was not promised anything. I would like to say that I was offended by one of your responses regarding a student that was homeless and on welfare not being able to succeed or continue their coursework. However, I started in October of 2012, I was homeless at the time and on welfare. Currently, I am 4 classes away from my Master’s in Public Administration. I know I have succeeded and have a future that includes having my own non profit organization soon. I have enjoyed my classes and instructors while at Ashford and I have no regrets. There are a lot of people who are.motivated and have the strength to overcome obstacles of any caliber and have succeeded. It is unfair to judge and dismiss people because of their circumstances.

Dec 1, 2012 1:15

So, does this mean that as a company they are failing within the employees or that of the students? I have been going since May of this year, but have yet to have any issues. I really dont know how to take all this information. Along with this article I read another one saying that AU had gathered thousands of students identification and used it to commit fraud. Identity theft and other legalities are under way, is this still relevant to today or is now just the internal issues and disgruntled employees?

My current professor seems to really love his job and is very interactive. I have not witnessed any red flags, and also agree with the homeless welfare student statement. Not cool, everybody has the potential to succeed and trust me it hasnt been a walk in the park for me. I choose to be successful and have self control to finish my assignments. I am praying to God that it isn’t going to blow up in my face!

Dec 1, 2012 17:12

@Lisa As students, we shouldn’t concern ourselves with disgruntled employees. Of course, they have documents or testimonies to back up their bad experience. They should file grievances or whatever complaint they have to the proper agencies that oversee these things. We don’t work for said agencies so why bother? As students, our concern falls on whether our degree from AU is credible to potential employers. I graduated with a BA in Business Administration just this October and have taken my degree for a test run in the job market. One out of four, would offer me a job. Eight out of ten would call me for an interview- on the phone or face to face. Ok, so I graduated Suma Cum Laude- this probably is my selling point. I didn’t accept the job offers because I am currently fully employed and is in line for a promotion. I have been with this company for 6 years and, with my degree, my boss thought it is about time I move up. Bottom line is: who cares if AU employees do crack or has quotas? They should get a new J-O-B!!!

Dec 2, 2012 15:23

I have been with Ashford now for about 2.5 years. SO far, I have found my experience to be positive and a great asset in helping to provide me with the instruction and knowledge needed to further my education. What I think that most people have to remember is that ONLINE LEARNING is NOT for everyone! While I understand that admissions counselors tend to try and target the majority for the sake of commission and numbers, ultimately WE ARE ALL GROWN HERE so I would assume that we have all finished high school and have at least a high school diploma. I think the fact that some people are not reading and/or writing on the appropriate level has more to do with their grades k-12 education. If you have a high school diploma than there is an expectation that you know the basic things necessary to function and achieve a higher education which includes reading on a college level. Did it also ever occur to any of you that prospective students may lie or have false motives for attending (in fact, I know of several individuals who signed up to go to school online because they heard of the potential “free money”) which is really loan money that u HAVE TO PAY BACK (smh). I think that the online learning format comes with faults as any system does but, if it fits you than you are in it to recieve the education that you are paying for. In response to the argument that the education is not meeting the standards or that students are meeting enrollment simply by a few clicks, consider the number of ON CAMPUS students who enroll and parents pay for their education but, end up failing or dropping out? Or who go but, don’t get anything out of it except the “party/frat experience”. College is an option and although people try to impress upon us that it is necessary IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT., If you are dedicated enough to want to put value into the dollar that you are spending on campus or online than your results will be positive for the most part. I can not say that it is entirely a positive experience always, as there as faults as I stated before. I do think that disgruntled former employees or bad experiences where students have to bear some responsibility should NOT be construed as discrediting this school! Potential students and current students who have come here to research or find information on this school I urge you not to be swayed by a few opinions of those who have maybe not fully owned their responsibility or accountability in the situation. Make an informed choice that is based on your own research, experiences, and knowledge. Again, the convenience and felxibility of online learning may sometimes mean that certain things will be less than satisactory such as the communication between you and advisors and instruictors. There is little or no personalization or “one-on-one contact so i you are in need of that than I would suggest the on-campus experience. Online learning is marketed for those who enjoy and are competent enough to participate in an independent study-type situation. If you are struggling or find that you are not able to keep up than seek other alternatives PLEASE. Any college education is expensive, however, online learning is said to be less expensive than a traditional college education, when you compare it based on the program you select, for example, i you are enrolled in a Bachelors degree program than do not expect it to be comparable to the amount of a Associates degree program. Do your research! The tuition of a four year program will be much higher no matter what format (online or on campus) that you choose. If you want to save on cost than consider an Associates degree that you can save up and return to complete additional years toward a Bachelors degree. By all means always do your research!

Dec 2, 2012 16:25

@Mabelle so with that being said, do you feel as though Ashford DOES have a credible stand point in the job field? I am not really concerned with the employees view, but I would like conformation that my degree holds some weight at the end of the day!!!

Ann H.
Dec 2, 2012 20:12

I am planning to attend Ashford University in the Spring of 2013. I am doing my diligence researching the school before I invest in a Masters in healthcare Administration, that wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s printed on after 18 months and 30K plus. I am reading a lot of negative posting about Ashford Univeristy. I am also aware of the in June 15, 2012, the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) acted to deny initial accreditation to Ashford University. Now Ashford is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the HLC’s North Central Association through 2015. What happen if they are denied after re-applying with (WASC)? Does you one have any advice for me.

Ann H.
Dec 2, 2012 20:23

Lisa, I am also concerned about the credibility of a Masters Degree from Ashford University in the heathcare field.

Dec 3, 2012 14:12

@Lisa I guess it all depends on the indusrty, type of job you intend to apply to, and how your potential employer percieves this new way of learning. Some still think that getting our degree online is like getting a degree at a diploma mill. I live in California near the Silicon Valley. Many employers here do not care how I got my degree as they are, of course, familiar with the power of technology. Besides, I have credible employment history to back it up. I don’t know what your case is. But many University of Califronia graduates here still deliver pizzas. It seem slike nobody would hire anyone, even with a degree from a traditional University, without a solid employment record.
What degree are your pursuing? I know that some degrees should not be pursued online- like nursing.
This is just my two cents. I am not an expert on these things. I am just sharing my recent experience in the job market. I do know that employers assume that I am resourceful and that my writing skills should be in order because I went online for a degree.

tyrone minnieweather
Dec 9, 2012 14:51

To whom it may concern,
My name is Tyrone Minnieweather, I’m a former bachelor’s student of Ashford University for social and criminal justice whom finished with an overall 3.11 GPA. I go by the nickname of either “T- Bone or Bone”. I have a background that includes gang affiliations, being kicked out of every high school that I went to, crack addiction, going to prison on a 4yr bit for drugs, being homeless, shot at a few times and a few other things, anyway. As it stands right now I have an associate’s degree in Collision Automotive Repair, I’ve completed my bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and was in my 3rd Master’s class for psychology. Because of my background I’ve personally lived a life that contradicts some of the stuff that was in some of our textbooks, and it’s due to me expressing those contradictions that I have had to endure 3 separate cases of institutionalized discrimination from 3 separate instructors at the for-profit Ashford University.
According to Ashford’s “Student Resolution Center” Ashford University’s faculty and staff does not practice discrimination. Well if that’s the case then it appears that the school changed a grade back to an A from a C- because I put in an Instructor’s Issues form against one Jacqueline Brook’s that taught SOC 101 for no apparent reason. Fortunately I still have emails from students that I have had debates with that complained about her teaching methods as well as was in defense of me despite the fact that I was debating against them, what does that say about Ashford’s discrimination policy? All of my classes were online, so regardless whomever I was debating with I never used a mean tone, expressed aggression, nor disrespected no one that I was in class with or that I was debating against. Saying that, if and when we students either say and/or demonstrates inappropriate behaviors we are disciplined, well why should faculty and staff of a university that is on the verge of losing its accreditation status as well as its federal financial funding be any different?
When I do all of my introductions regardless of the class I tell about myself the same way that I did to you all. Prior to the Brook’s discrimination issues I had a discrimination issue against one Jonathan Sperling. Because Sperling was the 1st instructor that I had issues with I didn’t know better plus I didn’t get my paperwork in on time and ended up getting stuck with a C-. Unfortunately I erased the emails that could’ve proved Mr. Sperling discriminated against me, but I do have one from the school saying that I did submit an instructor’s issues form that never made it to the appropriate people. And finally we come to one Brian Robinson. I believe it was in either weeks 1 or 2 that we had to submit a paper topic for our final paper which had to be 20pgs long. Mr. Robinson had put a list of topics for us to choose from with one of the topics being “other”, so I went with other.
The topic that I chose was a domino effect on how the CIA started the crack epidemic, how the crack epidemic led to the war on drugs and how the war on drugs caused disparities amongst blacks and Latinos in prison, Brian told me that he did not feel that my topic was an appropriate topic. I believe that it is safe for me to say that if it were not for the war on drugs we would not have as many minorities in prison today. My paper was a matter of a few hours late and he would not accept it, that 1 paper was worth 55% of my grade. If Mr. Robinson would have deducted every possible point that he could have deducted I still would have passed his class. I feel as if I would have changed my paper to appease Brian that he would have accepted my paper and I would still be continuing in my master’s classes, but instead I’m fighting for my transcripts and my future. Ashford University proved that discrimination happened to me by awarding me my A back in Jacqueline Brook’s class. Would that be a safe assumption to make?
I can send you all of the emails that I have in which I tried to settle this matter with Ashford; emails from other student’s supporting me and my debates, emails from other students voicing their dissatisfaction with the instructors that I’m complaining about as well as an email that I sent to one Senator Dick Durbin that voiced his dissatisfaction with Ashford that has gotten me nowhere. I will continue to utilize every able and available resource that I can find to help me fight for my transcripts and my future. My dream job is to be a writer, but because of my troubled past my ideal job as well as a dream job of sort is to start my own nonprofit juvenile organization that works with troubled kids. Ashford proved that they discriminated against me just by them awarding me my deserved grade back, but they act like they did nothing wrong. What Ashford has done is to try to destroy my future. All I want is my transcripts so that I can continue my education and possibly live the American dream for once in my life.
Tyrone “T- Bone” Minnieweather

Dec 14, 2012 4:04

Those of you in San Diego, CA who may or may not be part of a class-list action lawsuit.go to their corporate office there in San Diego and protest.Get attentionput on the situation.Take your own action. If you anything it will bring the issues to light and get covered by the news.Sometimes you have to take action to get results…at least faster results! Get some friends and make signs that say ” financial Aid Fraud” ” FRAUD” ” Misleading” and” SCAM”.Hope for those of you there you will take a stand.I am not in Cali ., but have contacted Senator Tom Harkin and have got in touch with reps. In the class action lawsuit.lets speed up this process.Goodluck!

Jan 3, 2013 20:55

I thought about not commenting on this ridiculous article, but with all of the negative aspects of it, I felt I had to just in case someone was researching on whether or not to attend Ashford. Let me just say, @Brandi, I agree with you 100%. Almost everyone here who has commented on the article in a negative connotation, complaining about something, had a solution to their problem and would have had it taken care of by Ashford had they asked questions and not let up until they got their answers.

I’ve been attending Ashford fulltime since Nov 2011 and am 4 courses away from finishing my BA and have had nothing but a positive experience with them. I have an admission counselor, and a combination student/financial aid counselor (the merge happened this past summer). When I began to look into Ashford, I made sure to look at EVERY aspect possible, namely money and accredidation as those would be the top things to affect the outcome of my degree. Is it expensive? Hell yes, but going online is a choice I made and they are not the only for-profit online university, although they are one of the most affordable. I use two forms of financial aid and go solely on that. I get the Pell grant from federal aid and also a military grant provided to me by Ashford since I am a spouse of an active duty military member. This grant takes off $750 of my tuition and pays for my books. I have never had an issue with the financial aid office. Did I have questions about things I thought were wrong or misleading? Yes. What did I do? I called or emailed my advisors and asked and did not let up till someone gave me an answer. When my first allotment of the Pell grant was about to be used up, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to continue going to school till the second allotment went in. I called my student advisor and he never called me back (I had numerous problems with this guy which I will go over later) so what’d I do? I called my ADMISSIONS advisor, Kyle. This guy was amazing. When I enrolled, he called me once a week to make sure everything was working out alright and I was having no problems with the online interface or my first course or financial aid. He continued to do so until I had finished my second course and then he turned me over to my student advisor. When I had the financial aid question and I called him, he immediately sent me over to the financial aid office, flagged as high priority. I then was connected with my secondary financial aid advisor, Bailey. She immediately answered my questions and sorted everything out for me with no issues. When I had problems with my student advisor not returning my calls or emails or taking too long (they are required to respond within 48-72 hrs) or not helping me in the way I expected, I called Kyle and complained. He sent correspondence up the chain to his supervisor about Keddy (the student advisor) and I was given a new student advisor within a week or two. Sydney is amazing and usually answers my emails or calls me back within 24hrs.

You, as the student, are responsible for your money, your degree progress, what degree program you choose, everything. You have to do your research. You can chat online or call an admissions counselor before even applying to ask questions. And don’t take what they say as law! If something sounds weird to you, look it up! There are sites where you can check if the college is legit and what their accredidations are and from who. As for people complaining about things not transferring, they never say that they will all transfer. No college says that. You will lose credits when transferring schools if they do not have an equivalent. I lost credits when I tried to transfer from a North Carolina school to a Hawaii school. If you don’t agree with that decision, you need to complain and provide a past syllabus or something that proves the courses are the same. You also always have the chance to “test-out.” You can take the final for that course and receive credit for it without having to take the entire course. Yes, you will have to pay for it, but your time is not lost. You also will probably lose credits if the accredidation between the schools you are transferring between are not the same. That’s yet another thing you need to check on before applying. Ashford’s student home page, once you log-in, has a My Degree tab. You can go on there and see exactly what has transferred, what you still lack to complete, what you have completed, and what you’re currently scheduled for. It is your responsibility to keep up with that. Your student advisor will schedule you for courses automatically, but if you want it in a certain order or if they have incorrectly scheduled you for something, you need to bring it to their attention! As far as the person who said that their advisor MADE them take a course not in their program, I seriously doubt that. I think what happened is a mistake was made by accident and the student never noticed and never complained so it was never brought up to the advisor. On that same home page, it shows your scheduled and current courses. It’s not hard to look at or understand. You can see what you’re getting ready to start. If you’re an English major and you’re scheduled for Advanced Microbiology, that’s probably not right and you should say something to get it fixed. :-/ And also, it is your responsibility to research your degree program, its requirements, and just FYI people, you NEVER EVER EVER will receive licensure to practice ANYTHING along with your degree. It is not a BOGO deal. That is separate and must be done through other institutions and is out of pocket. An example is the person who complained that they had to get licensure to practice psychology. You are required, for a therapy job like that, to have your degree and then a separate license to practice in your state. Every state has different requirements and tests. You are required to pay for that yourself. Teaching is the same way.

You are responsible to know how the financial aid process works. I have done the process at a state university that I physically attended and through Ashford. They are both very similar and are not hard to understand. Again, ask questions! I don’t use loans, so maybe that part is different since you have to work through the lender and make payments, but using the military grant and Pell grant, it’s not hard. You fill out the current year’s FAFSA and in the form, you put which school you want it to go to. It is sent ASAP to the school. The school looks at it and determines your eligibility. The funds are deposited into your account. At Ashford, they now schedule and charge you for 3 courses at a time. It will come directly out of your account. Any additional fees (which are in the student handbook and online!) will be applied to your account and taken out automatically. My military grant is applied to each course’s cost automatically by my student advisor and are credited back to my account. When I order books through EdMap, my student advisor has to send in the request for the books and show that they’re paid for through the grant. I always receive a reminder to order my books for my next course 3 weeks out.

This article, along with the majority of the disgruntled commentors, seem to consist of people who didn’t know how to make the system work for them or are not comfortable in the online education setting. It’s not for everyone and it’s not easy. Ashford, or any school for that matter, is not there to hold your hand and show you every single step to get your degree. Assuming you got into college, you should be mature enough and smart enough to take charge of your education and know what you’re doing and what you’re paying. I hope my comments help someone else looking to attend Ashford. I’ve recommended it to my military wife friends because it is a great school and it’s great for the military community to where they can use financial aid and it pay almost for everything and take courses wherever they may be, overseas or stateside. Your courses are 5wks long and are intense but positively challenging and worth it.

Jan 7, 2013 19:01

@Bob H, To get your issues resolved, contact me and I can give you a POC who will be of great help to you. I do not work for AU but I happen to know the head of the Military Programs department who is great and has some pull to fix your issues. I never deal with my AA because I feel like she is incompetent (especially since I work for another school and know what competence is:)). I go directly to my outreach director and her boss. You can reach me at [email protected]

Leave a Reply


Campus Buzz

We welcome Tips & Pitches

Latest WA Original Features

  • Twitter feed loading

APEI37.46  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
APOL20.36  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
AAPL485.92  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
BPI10.37  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
CAST0.061  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
CECO3.51  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
COCO2.63  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
CPLA28.14  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
DV24.39  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
EDMC3.79  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
ESI14.74  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
GOOG724.93  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
LINC5.19  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
LOPE23.13  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
PEDH0.45  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
PSO19.65  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
SABA9.27  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
SCHL28.97  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
STRA54.56  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
WPO376.78  chart0.00  chart +0.00%
2013-01-15 16:00

Domestic, Education Quality, For-Profit, Friend, Fraud, or Fishy, Graduate, International, Private, Public, Regulatory, Required, Universities & Colleges - Jan 14, 2013 6:00 - 0 Comments

Ryan Craig: American Clampdown Forcing Forlorn For-Profit Colleges To Look Abroad

More In For-Profit

Infographics, Open Source Education, Required, Technology - Jan 12, 2013 9:25 - 0 Comments

Infographic: How to Search for Free Open Education Resources Online

More In Technology

Domestic, Education Quality, For-Profit, Friend, Fraud, or Fishy, Graduate, International, Private, Public, Regulatory, Required, Universities & Colleges - Jan 14, 2013 6:00 - 0 Comments

Ryan Craig: American Clampdown Forcing Forlorn For-Profit Colleges To Look Abroad

More In Friend, Fraud, or Fishy