Thank you to my Guest Poster for helping me keep this blog active. I have a lot of thoughts I want to share that are not of the usual Orthonomic material, but then again the events are usual Orthodox events. More to come.
Guest Post by
A. Former Bochur
A couple of years ago, an entrepreneurial individual published The Bochur’s Guide to College (For Women Too) www.bochursguide.com. Ostensibly, it is a in informational resource which according to one review on Amazon offers “a very informative and helpful overview of the options available for those seeking to obtain a degree in a non-conventional way…. outlines different ways to obtain credit ranging from exams (CLEP, AP, and others) to online and distance learning. A fun read too!”.
The website features links to Amazon to purchase book as well as links to various online degrees from for-profit institutions which are apparently generating advertising revenue.
It is beyond the scope of this post to discuss the merits or demerits of the compatibility of a Torah observant lifestyle and the contemporary college campus. The fact is that secular college campus is in part reason of how we have gotten to this point.
The topic at hand is the value of having a college degree and how to obtain it. Most (although not all) frum Jews will stipulate the value of having a degree towards some sort of vocational endeavor. The question is how to get there.
In the past, the American Yeshiva world has been replete with success stories, either in business or professional life. While some have been able to excel in business without a degree, many Yeshiva graduates attended night school at commuter colleges that were the springboard towards a professional employment in a variety of professional fields. For the most part, all believed that obtaining a college education was a necessary component. This was achieved through an arrangement with the college to accept some number of Yeshiva credits, but ultimately the undergraduate degree was a diploma from the college of record. Some took this diploma to graduate school, and others were able to enter the workplace with the undergraduate degree and lead fine religious lives infused with Torah values and learning, and the ability to make an honest living.
Phase II of this Yeshiva world phenomenon occurred when it was discovered that for fields like Law, there was no specific major that was a prerequisite for entry. As a result, the “Yeshiva degree” was invented. Ostensibly, this was to turn years of Torah study into some sort of diploma which would be subsequently accepted by the law school. For Law, there has been a strong track record of success for this path. A variant within Phase II included other professional fields such as Accounting for which prerequisites and passing the CPA became more important than the undergraduate degree. As a result, the Yeshiva degree plus the coursework in Accounting could be leveraged to obtain the professional credential.
Enter Phase III, which is really a mish-mosh of Yeshiva (or Seminary) degrees, online degrees, “CLEPing“at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Young people and their parents have be told that some of these degrees are “accredited” and therefore worth the investment. There are a variety of different drivers of this phenomenon, which are also too complex for this post.
A perusal of the website above will list the various programs from which one can obtain a degree, there is little accountability for what is being advised. And the types of degrees being promoted here are very much the same approach that some Yeshivas are publicizing as channels in which one can get a college degree with minimal time and coursework and maximum time learning in the Yeshiva.
Without getting into the ins-and-outs of what is “accreditation”, let’s just compare it to some sort of Kosher symbol. OK, someone claims that it is kosher, and perhaps it technically is under certain circumstances. But is it a reliable hashgacha that most would recognize? In the same way, OK the degree is accredited, but is it recognized by employers? Another question that people should be asking is what is the value of the diploma alone without any relevant job experience, and in many cases writing and social skills within the corporate workplace.
It should be pointed out that many of these modern day diploma mills are in reality for-profit entities which are often more expensive than the local college. So, in the end, is this a worthwhile investment? Sure, the claims are that one can complete the degree in half of the time as other recognized schools. But so what? Most established universities track employment rates of graduates (one can quibble with how accurate the numbers are, but there is some tracking going on?). But are the Yeshivas doing that for the programs which they are directing people to?
The most recent one is the following (but there are others which have been marketed over the years).
*MEMO: To All Yeshiva Rabbinic Degree holders (First Talmudic Law or First Rabbinic Degree etc...)*
The Jewish Community announces the fourth cohort in the most successful M.B.A. Degree program starts again on *June 14th, 2011*. *(Participants meet twice a week for only 6 weeks, the rest of the pro**gram is completed via correspondence and can be done from any location)*
*The Introduction Seminar is Tuesday, June 14th *
***Students must register at least two weeks before then*
This Masters in Business (M.B.A.) program has *an additional **$2,000reduction OFF
**the discounted tuition of $8,100*. *(Total M.B.A. tuition would be $6,100
....paying class by class as you go and financial aid is also available.).*
- There are only 12 physical sessions on Tuesday and Thursday evenings that take place in Brooklyn or Queens *(students meet twice a week for 6 weeks), *
- *The rest of the program is completed **entirely online*.
- M.B.A. Graduate Degree Specifics:
- Schedule and Calendar:
- *Read what current students are saying about the program:*
- Past student comments:
- *6 different concentrations are available:*
- *M.B.A. - **General*, * *
- *M.B.A. - **Finance*, *
- *M.B.A. - **Information Management*,
- *M.B.A. - **Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management*, * *
- *M.B.A. - **Project Management*,
- *M.B.A. - **Entrepreneurship*
- *Financial Aid is also available*
** You can use your *Traditional *or *Yeshiva** Degree* for entry. Students have the option of earning your M.B.A. in 13-15 months if you desire.
Please call with any questions.
*(516) 528 - 8871
(347) 560 - TEAM*
*Teacher Education Assessment & Management*
Office: (888) 418-GRAD
I would encourage all readers of the post to write or call the fellow asking him some of the following. Can he produce some statistics as to the value of this program at “Aspen University” or “Ellis University” for employment in the Tri-State area for example? How many graduates have obtained jobs in the past 3-5 years? Without any relevant work experience, what is the value of the diploma in the marketplace? What is the average salary of a newly minted MBA from these programs? How do corporate recruiters react to these schools on a resume and how do they stack up with local brick-and-mortar MBA degrees? How many graduates have obtained employment without any relevant job experience? Does this person stand to gain a commission for each referral to sign up? All good questions, each begging for a compelling answer.
We have a concept of “lifnei iver” which can loosely be translated as dispensing irresponsible advice to those who might be uninformed, naïve, or vulnerable. Those out there should probe as to how credible those making any referrals to these programs really are, whether made by the person above or the head of your local Yeshiva that endorses such a program. Can the value of these short-cuts be corroberated by hard (or even soft) evidence?