Please note: this review concerns Penn Foster College in Phoenix, Arizona. Though they are affiliated with Penn Foster High School in Scranton, Pa. that program is not the focus of this article. We have a child in the High School program as well and though there may be some problems there; they are nothing of this magnitude.
One gets the impression Penn Foster College hires part-time, work-from-home individuals who would rather be doing anything other than grading assignments. Perhaps grading for Penn Foster is their second job, maybe they are retired teachers needing to supplement their income or possibly students who themselves were harshly graded. One thing is for sure; the impression you get from the responses of most of these graders (I hesitate to insult the educational community by calling them Teachers) is someone sitting at a computer, angry that while the rest of the world enjoys dinner, their favorite TV show or a good nights sleep they must sit and grade papers from students they consider well beneath their egotistic standard. The frustration and bitterness they seem to have at being forced into such a menial job is transferred to the student by way of their harsh and cruel words. This scenario may not be correct at all, but again, it is certainly the impression one gets from the process.
I have taken many of these graded assignments to local colleges to have them reviewed, thinking perhaps it was just my lack of comprehension. Repeatedly I have been told the comments made by these representatives of Penn Foster do not represent sound teaching principles, nor are they clear and precise in their direction or instruction and in fact; most have referred to them as unintelligible difficult to understand the correction (?) being offered. In each instance, it should be noted, the paper(s) also received a far higher grade than that being given by Penn Foster.
In one particular case, work submitted by an A average student was marked returned ungraded even though the work was not returned. What was sent was a note written in such a manner as to be classified (by many websites, including Penn Fosters Community Website) as inappropriate The Instructors use of the increased size of the font, the color selection (red), the bold-faced type, and the underlining, as well as the use of all capital letters is considered to be offensive by most reputable websites that invite comments from its readers. It is considered yelling, a form of bullying. In fact; on many of the sites I attempted to post the reviewers comments (exactly as they appeared), I was not allowed to do so because of his/her aggressive use of these options. He did not go through the paper highlighting errors, making comments or suggestions; he did not even attach the paper to his arrogant and sarcastic note, he just proceeded to rewrite the instructions given in the study guide, adding and changing them as he went on his tirade. The point of this attack seemed to be that the student should copy two different articles which the student did. That the student should cite the sources which the student did. That these articles should be summarized they were. And then an analysis of the article written which it was. The only comments that remotely applied were that the summary and analysis should be separate items in the essay which the study guide did not specify. Clearly this instructor did not read the material submitted; opting instead to attack the effort without reason.
Other websites that forbid such usage categorize such conduct as Demeaning, demoralizing, and disgraceful. Not at all encouraging and quite distasteful, are words another popular site uses to describe such nonsense in declaring such aggressive tactics as misconduct that will not be tolerated.
Any student who makes an honest, decent attempt at completing an assignment does not deserve to be treated in such a disrespectful manner! To do so not only shows poor judgment but, extremely bad character! While the entire Nation has come to recognize and deal with the negative aspects of bullying, Penn Foster apparently feels such disgusting behavior is a viable teaching tool. This individual should be named, forced to apologize to the student and then be terminated from his/her position. Most legitimate companies would do far more than that to mend the wounds and heal the offended in an attempt to distance themselves from such appalling conduct.
A good rule of thumb to follow when selecting a college is can they accept Pell Grants. If, as in Penn Fosters case they can not there is probably a good reason why and you will most likely discover the degree earned there is not as accepted as you had hoped.
Our family has absolutely no desire to be a part of any organization that allows, condones, and/or supports such inappropriate and malicious conduct as being displayed / practiced by Penn Foster. To allow a bully, of any kind, to hold a position over those they bully is the ultimate offense and should not be accepted by anyone, at any time, for any reason. Therefore; the student has been removed from the program, just two assignments shy of completing the semester.