Walden University Reviews
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"Walden University, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"
Based on a very good friend’s recommendation I enrolled in Walden’s online (e college) masters in education program (curriculum, design, and assessment). My friend told me that she had a great experience with the program, I valued her thoughts and opinions. She also told me it was tough, but very doable. Without really looking around too much, I dove right into program. I am set to finish my masters at Walden in 2008 My intention of this review is to give an honest and thoughtful critique of this program. Therefore, I will present both the upside and downside of Walden based on my experience and opinion, so that there are no surprises should you decide to take this route to earn your master’s degree. From the onset let me point out that this is program is very different from anything out there, and might not be a good fit for some, but not for everyone. The online environment presents its own issues that are very unlike what you would experience in a “brick and mortar” college. Walden promotes the idea of building an online community, but the reality is that you are “pretty much” on your own, so before you even think about going this route, you better be a somewhat self motivated person or “forget about it!” Below I have listed both the positive and the negatives aspects of this online program. First the positive: 1. The DVD for each course does have a number top-notch speakers who present the information well. 2. There is not an overwhelming of material to read, and much of it is very interesting. 3. Their online situation means you do not have to waste lot of time and gas driving to school. You have the convenience of accessing your classroom at anytime 4. Most of the teachers are very fair and reasonable 5. The support staff seems to be very patient and friendly. 6. The cost is comparable to most master’s programs Now the downside or real “skinny” on the program 1. Unlike many programs, Walden does not require a thesis project. However, before you jump for joy, and say “what’s wrong with that?” let me tell you that you “will” do a 30 to 40 plus page collaborative action research paper. This paper must be completed in 8 weeks, and it is every bit as rigorous and demanding as a thesis paper. However, a final project is due and consists of a portfolio that you must submit at the end of your 20 months of classes that focuses on meeting 18 different outcomes. Essentially you have to match these 18 different outcomes (or standards) with different papers you have written through your tenure in the program. Sounds confusing, it is! 2. As a student enrolled in this program you are required to write at least one 3 to 4 page APA style paper (sometimes longer, but rarely shorter) once a week. Some weeks you are required to write two papers (an application and reflective paper). 3. Walden is “very strict” about the APA format. I actually experienced one professor that verbally “brow beat” the whole class because some students were not following every jot and tittle of the APA format. 4. Along with the application and reflective papers you are also required to write a discussion piece that is posted on an online forum for your classmates and professor to read (APA style with 2 to 3 references, one of those references must be from an outside source). During the week you must post three responses to other people’s posts, and complete a 4-question review on the readings and DVD program. Remember, this is once a week. Most of the time I spent an average of 20 hours or more a week trying to complete all of this work (rarely less). 5. Though Walden preaches that their curriculum is meant to be meaningful and applicable to your teaching situation, in my opinion the program is only somewhat applicable, and the course work is really overwhelming, to the point that they almost work you to death. 6. Total papers written in this program, not counting discussion posts or responses will be well over 100 (not counting the 30 to 40 page collaborative action Research project). Remember all of these papers must in APA style and contain both outside and course references. If you love to write, then this may not be an issue for you. All that I have described to you is my opinion based on my experience enrolled at Walden. If you have no other options for earning a master’s degree, then I would not discourage you from enrolling in this program. However, if your district accepts National University (online or “brick and mortar” program), or another ten-month master’s programs, or you have a local university that is offering a “cohort” program then I would implore you to look into it and if looks at all inviting, then go for it! However, if you have a family and do not care about seeing them very much for over 20 months, then Walden will fit the bill (get my drift). For the record, by the time I really got the gist of this program I was in way too deep. Had I know that this program would be so demanding and inapplicable to my teaching situation I would have never enrolled in it in the first place. Sure, a master’s program should not be easy, but you have to consider both the demands of your job and family life in the equation. There is a price to pay, but is a master’s degree that is so demanding worth the price when it has the potential to cause both your job and family life to suffer? There are probably more difficult programs out there, but if your goal is to get a bump in pay, you want to watch your children grow up, and want to keep a good balance in your life, then this program is “definitely” not for you (unless you are single and don’t have any other options in your area to get a master’s degree). Be that as it may, there is light at the end of the tunnel, I will finish in a few months and wipe the dust off my feet. But in the wake of this program are many doubts, regrets, and hours spent in front of a computer screen that I will never get back. For the record I am still friends with the person that suggested Walden to me in the first place. However, she has apologized profusely for not giving me the whole story. She also failed to tell me that her sister was an English teacher who continually helped her with all of her papers. (OOPS! Live and learn!). Nevertheless, I am sure that there are many that would disagree with my assessment of Walden, and that is their right, just like it is my right to express my opinion. With that said, I would encourage you to do the research and make up your own mind about where you want to get your master’s degree. But please consider what I have written here, because I have given it to you straight (something you will not get from Walden). Good luck with whatever route you decide to take, but you have been warned!