I had the unfortunate experience of being assigned a couple of professors at Northcentral University (NCU) who didn't even minimally meet their minimum responsibilities as instructors. In a nutshell, they barely participated at all. The class in question, RSH890A-B, is the first research class that leads up to the doctoral dissertation. This is a critical class that sets the foundation for the final dissertation. The student attrition rate at this point in any doctoral program is high because of the difficulty. Active mentorship is absolutely critical to the success of the student at this point, especially at an online university that has no personal contact between mentor and student.
When my instructor's conduct was brought to the attention of the Dean of the school via the appeals process, she chose not to acknowledge and correct the instructor issues. Dean Turner's decision was to academically dismiss me instead.
I started the RSH890A-B classes as a student in good academic and financial standing. I had a respectable GPA of 3.58. I had also prepaid the complete program.
NCU promises active and engaged instructors, as seen in their marketing materials at http://www.ncu.edu/why_ncu/one-on-one_mentoring.aspx. Here's a quote: "At NCU, online education does not mean working in isolation it means close and frequent interaction". During the latest attempt at RSH890A-B, Dr. Muller initiated contact with me one time on Nov. 5th. One time - out of 16 weeks of class! Does this sound like Dr. Muller worked "to support the adult's active learning role by guiding and stimulating the learning process"? When I responded to Dr. Muller's email that I was having difficulty, he never responded.
The previous attempts at RSH890A-B were similar. The instructor initiated contact no more than a couple of times. As a student, I was not aware of the importance of an active mentor until it was too late and academically dismissed. Afterward, I presented my situation to a group of PhD's and experts in distance education. They suggested that the instructors were not properly equipped to be research mentors, based on the instructor's actions or lack thereof.
Absentee professors and NCU's lack of corrective action resulted in my academic dismissal at NCU. How many other NCU students were either dismissed or just walked away because they too experienced the same situation as I? What about the current students who are not at the research phase yet? In my case, I spent 5 years and $15,000 to get to the first research class. It pains me to think that other students will lose $15,000 to a school that talks about active learning and supportive instructors, but doesn't deliver on their promises.
Check out the stats on the Higher Learning Commission's page about Northcentral University. Link: http://www.ncahlc.org/index.php?Action=s****. />
NCU has also demonstrated bad faith by selectively enforcing and changing their own policies. Section 3 of the Learner's Handbook states "As a matter of policy, faculty mentors are required to maintain frequent and active contact with Learners." This was not enforced during my attempts at RSH890A-B. When I recently extended an olive branch and requested readmission back into NCU, per section 2.13.6 - "Learners who have been dismissed for lack of academic progress will be re admitted as a non degree Learner and must successfully complete 9 credits. After successfully completing 9 credits, the Learner will be admitted to a degree program." NCU's response was to pile on additional criteria beyond that stated in their policy. This smacks as additional bad faith on the part of the NCU towards their students.
If you want to waste time and money, go to Northcentral University. If you want a reasonable chance at getting your degree, go elsewhere. NCU is a glorified correspondence school with a poor mentor-student communication system. You can do better than NCU.
NCU actively markets to the military and veterans. As a US Navy veteran and a Veterans of Foreign Wars member, I urge my military brethren to look elsewhere for their education. We had a term for misspent money in the service. It was called "Fraud, Waste and Abuse". NCU's actions clearly fit into this category. As a taxpayer, it's insulting to know that NCU profits at the expense of our military by making marketing promises that they won't keep.