Diploma mills turn to Internet Colleges: Go online to find 'distance-learning' universities, but beware those that offer, say, doctoral degrees for $179.

The Education Beat

January 21, 1998|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

GET YOUR red-hot doctoral degree while supplies last! Only $179! No attending of classes required! Full credit for life experience! And due to popular demand, we now offer two additional degrees at rock-bottom prices: $139.75 for a master's, $99.75 for a bachelor's.

This is the gist of the 18-page catalog of the American College of Metaphysical Theology, a Minnesota-based school specializing in the "study of the basic advanced principles of metaphysical or spiritual truth."

You can find the college on the Internet at www.americancollege.com.

The college is not accredited -- that is, approved by a regional organization for its faculty qualifications, library holdings and the like.

It is proud that it isn't accredited.

Accreditation "is of minor importance," the school says. On that same page, it reminds enrollees that sending in a check entitles them to claim on their resumes that a doctorate is "expected."

"This sounds to me like Kentucky-fried metaphysics," said Stephen Vicchio, a College of Notre Dame philosophy professor who earned his doctorate at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

It was Arthur Laupus, a veteran city teacher and faithful Education Beat correspondent, who called our attention to the American College of Metaphysical Theology.

Even though $179 seems a fair price, Laupus suggested with tongue in cheek, "I thought you could advertise this bargain, and maybe together we could sign up enough people -- they don't necessarily have to be teachers -- to bring the price down even more -- say, to $149.95."

Laupus concluded, "Phi Beta Kappas, eat your hearts out!"

A lot of people in education are eating their hearts out over operations such as the American College of Metaphysical Theology, which spit in the face of the establishment and all of its silly thinking about course work, research and dissertations.

With the rise of the Internet and "distance learning," diploma mills are proliferating.

So, too, are legitimate online colleges and universities, including lTC Maryland's pioneer in the field, the University of Maryland's University College, and the University of Phoenix, the accredited for-profit university that wants to establish three centers in Maryland.

It's not enough to insist that the distance-learning colleges be accredited, according to the experts.

Some of them accredit themselves, the equivalent of the fox calling the henhouse a warm, dry place.

Peterson's 1998 "Guide to Distance Learning Programs" is a good source of information on reliable, accredited programs.

Twenty-one Maryland-based schools are listed, including most of the public four-year colleges and universities, the major community colleges, Capitol College, Goucher College and the Johns Hopkins University.

'Cheerful givers' assist subject of earlier column

The Education Beat on Christmas Eve featured people who give to education without pay or thought of glory.

Last week, we received this note from Sister Brenda Motte, an Oblate Sisters of Providence nun who is collecting books to restock the barren shelves of Johnston Square Elementary School in the East Baltimore neighborhood of her convent:

"God loves a cheerful giver. I know this from experience.

"Since early morning Christmas Eve, I have received books, money for books and phone calls. It has been a beautiful experience. Several people invited me to go to book stores and purchase books at their expense.

"Today I have approximately 800 new books and several hundred used books in good condition.

"We have a long way to go to reach our goal of 5,000 books, but I am certain the outpouring will continue.

"Soon every child in my village will have lots of books to read!"

Radio host goes to war over Harvard memorials

Why does Harvard University have memorials to alumni who fought for the Kaiser and Hitler, but a Civil War memorial that fails to honor the Confederate war dead?

Baltimore talk-radio host Lester Kinsolving wanted to know. Tape recorder in hand, he ambushed Harvard's president, Neil Rudenstine, after a football game last fall. The Chronicle of Higher Education obtained a transcript of the exchange:

Rudenstine: "What's this got to do with football?" Kinsolving: "We just remember Germans? No Confederates -- Germans!"

A Harvard spokeswoman said the campus' world war memorials were intended for those who died on both sides of the conflicts, but the Civil War monument was installed by Yankee alumni to honor Union soldiers exclusively.

To learn more

For more information about topics covered in this article, go to The Sun's Web site, SunSpot, at www.sunspot.net/news/

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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