revgabel wrote:Since I have attended Florida Baptist Theological College, a fully accredited college and Andersonville, I can tell you this, you get out of it what you put in it. I took classes at Andersonville for a Masters in Pastoral Counseling. It was to help in my work at the church. Yes the classes are on CD's and the test are simple. But then again, my daughter is taking classes at a Auburn University online with open book test. Four of her classes are all on DVD with only a written paper due that will be graded by a TA. If you take the classes at Andersonville and do the prep work and followup work as you would with a college at a traditional seminary you will learn the same. But it will be up to you. I had guys in my Classes at FBTC that just wanted to get by and that was it. There are good cases on both sides, but it comes down to the person who is taking the class, will he or she, do all they can to learn what they need to help reach the world for Christ. That is our goal right?
doctor doolittle wrote:"Colleges" or "Universities" that do not meet the standards for accreditation often invent an accrediting agency for their own situation.
[Remainder mercifully snipped.]
While I hope that I don't appear to be encouraging this, the easiest way to understand how a degree mill operates is to learn how to start one. As we begin our journey, I can offer only one piece of advice: kids, don't try this at home.
Imagine, if you will, that I want to establish a college that will grant non-traditional degrees in religion or ministry by mail. We'll call my school Levicoff Bible College and Theological Seminary.
The first thing I do is incorporate Levicoff Bible College and Theological Seminary as a non-profit corporation. There is no special procedure for this; I merely complete a form called "Articles of Incorporation" that spells out the goals, purposes, and mission statement of my school, then file it with my state incorporation bureau along with a small filing fee.<4> If I live in a state that does not regulate religious schools, I do not have to pass any qualitative criteria or even file notice of my specific intention to offer academic degrees; the religious status of my school provides me with an ideal exemption from policies which affect secular academic institutions.
I then design a curriculum for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies. For each course I choose a textbook (which I may even offer for sale in my own school's "bookstore"), write a one or two-page syllabus that asks moderately easy questions, and perhaps require a term paper of five or six pages. I'll charge enough to make a profit, but not so much that I won't be able to compete with legitimate colleges.
With a little bit of variation, I can also adapt my program to offer additional degrees such as Bachelor of Science in Bible, Bachelor of Christian Counseling, or Bachelor of Pastoral Studies. Then I'll be able to offer my students a discount on "dual-degree" programs.
Since my school is a Bible college and seminary, I then design, with minimal effort, additional "degree" programs at the master's and doctoral levels. Even if I didn't have a master's or doctorate degree myself, there is nothing that legally precludes me from granting those degrees to other people. (Or, for that matter, to myself.)
I now have my very own university offering degrees from the bachelor's through doctorate levels. All I need to do is advertise. If I want a Christian clientele, the logical thing for me to do is simply place ads in major religious magazines such as Christianity Today, Charisma, and Christian Century.
"But surely," you might say, "those magazines screen their advertisers to guarantee the integrity of the product or service being advertised."
Not true, I'm afraid. Even Christian magazines are in business to make money, and the ones listed here have all accepted advertising, both display and classified, from degree mills. Simply because a school advertises in a credible magazine doesn't mean that the school itself is credible.
But wait. There's just one thing missing - accreditation! After all, if I can advertise my school as being "fully accredited," then I'll certainly be able to draw more students. No problem; I have several options at my disposal.
My first option is to apply for accreditation from an unrecognized accreditor such as the Accrediting Commission International for Schools, Colleges, and Theological Seminaries or one of the many other accreditation mills that specialize in approving Bible schools.<5>
My second option is to form a second non-profit corporation which I'll call the American Accrediting Association for Bible Colleges and Seminaries (one of the few names that hasn't been used by a fake accreditor yet). I can serve as the president of both Levicoff Bible College and Seminary and the American Accrediting Association; no one will know the difference. Then I can simply use my accrediting association to accredit my Bible college. (If you think I'm kidding, try not to laugh. It's a common tactic used by religious degree mills.)
As a third option, I can call my local regional accrediting association, as well as the American Association of Bible Colleges and the Association of Theological Schools, and ask them to send me information on the requirements for institutional accreditation. Then I'll be able to state in my catalog, "Levicoff Bible College and Seminary is in dialogue with the regional association, AABC, and ATS, regarding accreditation." I may have stretched the truth, but legally I haven't lied.
Unfortunately, the average educational consumer hasn't learned about institutional legitimacy or accreditation, and will sincerely believe that the "degrees" I offer are credible. In truth, with a degree from Levicoff Bible College and Seminary plus fifty cents, you'll be able to buy about half a cup of coffee. Without the fifty cents, my college's degrees will be worth nothing.
Also unfortunately, chances are that you will enroll in my fake school, work toward and even earn your degree, and be out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars before you even realize that your degree is worth nothing.
Jack wrote:Steve - I can't help feeling that your post is incomplete without one of those Snoopy pictures you used to use in your signature line.
Bill Huffman wrote:Jack wrote:Steve - I can't help feeling that your post is incomplete without one of those Snoopy pictures you used to use in your signature line.
Yea! Wasn't it a snoopy typing that was made out of text characters?
Secondly, I will disassociate the school from the National Christian Counselors' Association.
Third, no master's programs should have introductory courses.
Fourth, the MMin program should have more than two courses in systematic theology and the course on salvation should be included in one of the systematic theology courses.
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