Ashford University Review
Ashford University Review
Who is the author of this review?
I have attended 10 different universities and campuses during my academic career. This review should be weighed in light of this experience. I have attended college classes in the California State University system, an Ivy League university, colleges in the northeast, southeast, and west of the United States, online, and overseas.
In January, 2012, I completed all the major coursework for a bachelor of arts in International Business at Ashford University online.
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Comparison to other Bachelor's Degree Programs
How Does Ashford University Compare to Other Schools?
This section will be more valuable to readers than the other sections. Hiring managers wondering how an online degree compares to a degree earned on campus have come to the right place. Those who wonder how difficult it will be to complete an online degree versus a traditional in-class process have also come to the right place.
The 12 universities and colleges I attended include: The Defense Language Institute, Monterey Peninsula College, San Jose State University, San Joaquin Delta Community College, Copper Mountain College, University of Maryland, Veteran's Upward Bound Program, University of Pennsylvania, Modesto Junior College, Athens Technical College, Barton Community College, and finally, Ashford University.
Of these 10, two are online programs: Barton and Ashford. The two University of Maryland courses were taken in Okinawa, Japan. Athens Tech is in Georgia. UPenn is in Philadelphia. San Jose State, MJC, and Delta are all situated in Central California. So, the comparison provided here is based on personal experience greater than most professors at colleges and universities in the United States.
This is virtually unheard of: Amazon reviewers are notoriously rough. But, this book has 11 reviews- and a 5-star average. This is the book for you. If you're considering an online degree, better get your copy and read it.
Ashford University Grading Scale
Minimum Percent for Grade
Two mainstream grading systems operate on most American campuses. The most common is the straight A to F system based on gradations of ten percent. An A is 90 to 100%, and a D is 60 to 69.99%. Less than 60% is failing, an F.
The next common system, which may be employed by individual professors on any campus anywhere, is the "curve". In this method, professors compile very rigorous examinations to separate even the most dedicated and studious of degree seekers. Questions get asked using theory beyond what is printed and directly stated in the text. Examinees must answer novel questions and apply course material. Every math, physics, chemistry, and engineering exam is of this nature. At the University of Pennsylvania, many courses hosted this exam and grading format.
At traditional campuses with bell towers and ivy covered brick walls enclosing the Quad, students (especially networking affiliations like sports teams and fraternities) keep lists of which professors grade in which manner. They will also compile copies of old exams. More often than not, these old exams will be the source of more than a few questions on the current semester's exam.
Online grading is similar to the tenth gradation system, but much more formatted, and far less variable. First, you are not going to know anyone at the frat house with a box of Professor Smith's old history exams. You have to know it yourself. Second, the X-factor of bizarre, pedantic professors is removed. You will not enter a class to get surprised on the first essay with an F because the professor grants unlimited deductions for spelling, grammar, and sentence use (his discretion). Ashford University has a "grading rubric."
Instructors at Ashford must use the grading rubric. This rubric is a detailed matrix assigning value to each component of an essay. As you might expect, the majority of points relate to what every essay must provide: answers to all the questions posed in the assignment; demonstration of knowledge from the course work and assigned reading; and provision of length requirements. Minor requirements include grammar & spelling, proper formatting according to APA standards, and other technical matter. These minor details have limited points, less than 10 percent altogether.
Instructors use a fillable matrix to grade essays. Once an essay is graded, the completed rubric is made available to the student for review. This is one of the great benefits of Ashford University and of online programs in general. It should not be long before traditional campus systems catch up to this standard. (Within 10 years, perhaps?)
Reviewing Returned Work
Each assignment and paper is returned to you in your "basket." In my last online classes at Ashford (one of the improvements I noted in my two years), every returned essay was marked up in Word with notes detailing every point lost. One thing that never happened in my essays was to lose points because the professor disagreed with my answer. I have had that happen in some other courses on campuses. The biggest points lost at AU will come by failing to respond to a part of the topic.
Other types of returned work include statistics and accounting homework assignments.
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Ashford University Gradebook
Weighting of Material
Most universities have an official policy requiring professors to state in a syllabus material requirements, textbooks, and weighting of assignments, mid-term exams, and the final exam. This syllabus should be delivered on the first day of lecture. In the traditional campuses I attended, these were not always given on the first day. Sometimes they arrived late enough to negatively impact understanding of what the course is testing and how scoring and grading will operate. In a course on Arabic, at the University of Pennsylvania, I never received a syllabus. This meant that the Egyptian instructor could grade however she wanted. This meant that the two mediocre Muslim students received A's and the prior service Marine received an Incomplete- for not attending enough classes! I never knew about the minimum attendance requirement. She made it up to justify her hatred of me for my military service.
No student at Ashford can suffer abuses under the whims of an instructor. The weighting is completely programmed into the course format. For example, BUS 450, International Finance, breaks down the weighting of grades like this: Discussions, 40%; Assignments, 10%; Quizzes, 35%; and Final paper, 15%. You must perform some work twice each week. Logging in does not qualify.
Monitoring Your Grade:
With online schools, including Ashford University, you can monitor your grade at any time. You never have to visit your professor's office hours to check and ensure that the grades on your papers handed back to you are the same as the ones entered by a teacher's assistant into the grade book. (I have brought in assignments and exams more than once to a campus professor to correct errors in my grading. TA's do make errors. So do the professors themselves.)
Using the Ashford University Gradebook tool, you can see exactly what weight is assigned to every discussion, assignment, quiz, exam, or paper.
In reading the reviews on review sites, some reviewers wrote about one or two bad experiences. I only had one. What I really appreciated in my courses was that the instructors (even the one I loathed) all had more than a decade of public sector experience. At Modesto Junior College, there is a tenured math teacher who is an abomination to the field. He has never worked outside of teaching, uses the examples from previous editions of the text as his teaching, and then gives exams far outside of what was covered in class.
I never had any problems with any instructor at Ashford University being outside the loop of practical application. In the Discussion Forums (two questions must be answered and actively discussed and developed each week), the instructors often give practical advice. Many times, instructors know about the business or work of one of the students, and a worthwhile engagement begins there. Many of the students are also working professionals. Because of this, the discussion forums give a feel of how the text material is applied, and the kinds of ways it works and does not work. In all of this, the instructors guide and facilitate the discussion.
The Ashford University staff easily earn an A.
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Which Learners Perform Better on Tests of Knowledge: Online or Face-to-Face?
This question is handily answered by a major conglomeration of studies which have compared distance learning with campus learning. This work is called The No Significant Difference Phenomenon. The following link will allow you to search hundreds of studies comparing online and onground learners, their propensity to persevere or quit (no difference), to perform on final exams (distance learners do better), on overall cumulative scores (no difference), and many other factors.
Additionally, though no study had been produced comparing the income of online degrees vs. campus degrees, this changed in 2012. A report was published showing that online degree holders earn more 6 years after enrolling than those who enroll in state or private non-profit universities. Online Degrees Earn More
Is Ashford University a Good School?
As a student of 10 colleges and universities, I can say, "Yes!" I have been in an Ivy League school, University of Pennsylvania, 2 online schools, Barton and Ashford, one intense military school, the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, and I have almost 200 college semester units total.
Ashford University is a rigorous program. Ashford Graduates learn an impressive amount of knowledge. Writing requirements are heavy. Reading is even more intense. Only UPenn required more reading. Only UPenn and DLI required more work. Even my (non-engineering) classes at San Jose State were easier than Ashford.
As an international business student, I learned things about business, and about international business I never knew were even considerations in management at all. I understand how FOREX works, why risk is an important understanding in every contract, and how to mitigate and control risk. I learned the importance of employee retention and customer satisfaction. I learned about logistics and about legal considerations. Ashford taught me the importance of good contracts, arbitration, and international law. Although I have owned three successful businesses in the past, and now own my fourth, Ashford gave me a lot of applicable knowledge.
The authors and text books at Ashford are the same ones being bought and sold on campuses all over the United States and in Europe. The only difference is Ashford text books have special covers, and are labeled "Ashford University edition". I believe this is because Ashford negotiated a better price to purchase the texts. Publishers protect the market by making them appear different than other textbooks, which sell for more. Increasing the difficulty of these relabeled text books to compete in the market place protects the profits of publishers. The contents are the same. The students' only worry in this is the fact they are going to read most or all of every one of these texts. It replaces lecture, after all.
Ashford University Rating
If and ONLY if you have taken at least 3 classes at Ashford, please give an overall rating. 5 is the best.
Ashford University Rating
Using the votes of the first 86 people who responded to this articles poll, the average rating is 4.24 out of a possible 5. That is quite high for any school.
Update (July 3, 2013): After 115 votes, the average rating is now 4.18 out of 5.
Update (December 1, 2013): After 131 votes, the average student review of Ashford University is 4.21 out of 5.
Update (April 17, 2015): After 185 votes, the average is 4.23 on a 5-point scale.
Veteran Education Leader on Ashford University
Where is Ashford University? The Campus is in Clinton, Iowa.
Campus of Ashford University in Clinton, IA.
Ashford University Mailing Address
If you need to send in a payment to Ashford University, this is the address:
13500 Evening Creek Drive
San Diego, CA 92128
You will need to send in payments to pay tuition if you are not using student loans and the Pell grant to pay your costs. There is also a final fee of $150 at the end of your courses; this is a 'graduation fee' which is not (by Federal law) covered by loans or Pell. Be sure to use other funds to pay this final amount so as not to break any laws.
San Diego is the location of the administrative functions for Ashford. The main campus is located in Iowa (see map to right):
400 North Bluff Boulevard
Clinton, IA 52732
Ashford University Grade Points
How to Calculate Your GPA
Every College Student learned to calculate a grade point average in high school. Total your points, total your units, and divide the former by the latter.
The adjacent table shows the point value of each letter grade at Ashford University. These are typical values, used at most institutions of higher learning.
I actually don't know if D grades are issued. My lowest grade was a C+, so I interpolated values I did not score myself directly, and extrapolated all values below a C+.
How to get good grades at Ashford:
In my first classes, I put in a "good" effort. I read most of the required reading. I wrote my papers using one extra page to "brainstorm" the topic and flow of each paper. In those early courses, I earned mostly B grades, and received a C+ in the mix. However, in my international human resource management course, the instructor was brutal in grading (the only bad professor experience I had at AU). To get a B-, I had to read everything, spend three times as much time on each essay, and cite every source of information, allowing nothing left uncited as "common knowledge."
I also looked at some job openings which asked for GPA.
So, I decided to invest a max effort in every class, and earn as many A's as possible. This is something I have done before. I have earned 4.0 semesters 9 times in my life. With the added effort, I earned 9 A's in my last 9 classes. Two of these were A- grades. However, if you are prepared to do ALL the reading (some of it two or three times) and take your time on quizzes and prepare your papers with design and research, then you can earn an A and possibly even a 4.0.
Poll for Ashford Grads
If and ONLY if you are an Ashford Student with 1 year or more, or graduated already, what is your current or final gpa?
Ashford University Accreditation
According to their website:
Ashford University® is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.
Ashford University also applied for accreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Ashford is accredited by the HLC through the 2014-2015 school year. The WASC accrediting body denied AU's application in July, 2012. However, they encouraged Ashford to reapply "early next year". Curiously, they made excellent mention of the Clinton, Iowa campus. And, they made an issue of the San Diego administration and campus. They recommended some of those administrators move to the Iowa campus.
Personally, I wonder how much of that result was the work of Senator Harkin of Iowa. He actually set up a board to "look into" for-profit education. That is a joke, really. Even state schools, always assumed to be non-profit, actually send tens of millions each year to the state. Harkin really harped on the issue of the jobs being in San Diego. In my opinion, he wanted them moved to Clinton. That would help his jobs report numbers around re-election time, wouldn't it?
Reading excerpts from the WASC report, it really sounds like they are saying, "You are really approved. But, we are holding out a year with the uh-hum, suggestion, that you move as many jobs as you can to Iowa.
Ashford University Receives Initial Accreditation from WASC
I received an email notice on July 12th, 2013- Ashford has received "Initial Accreditation" from the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. Way to go, AU! The email further informed the school will be transitioning from HCL accreditation to WASC. Here is a quote from the email:
Our transition from HLC to WASC will not impact you or your Ashford degree(s) and, regardless of when you graduated from Ashford, you graduated from an accredited institution.
Of course, no person of normal intelligence would think it would make a difference, or affect classes in any way. But, I can see why it is wise to explicitly state there will be no issues of concern to students or degree holders.
Ashford University Ranking
In 2007, The Online Education Database (OEDb) began ranking online colleges and universities. The current list gives the Ashford University as #33 out of 65 schools. This gives AU a middle-of-the-pack ranking with 32 schools ranked above and 32 schools ranked below them.
The Ashford University ranking is above Strayer (#47) and Kaplan (#45). Colorado State University ranked #5 on OEDb's list. The University of Phoenix does not appear in the rankings.
At OEDb's website, you can search rankings of online schools by degree and type. The International Business program at Ashford University ranked #9 of 54 schools in 2013. Nice.
Contact to Apply to Ashford:
The admissions counselor I used in the beginning, and who answered all my very many questions as I interviewed different online programs was Felicia Handsend. You can reach her at:
Ashford University Diploma
Once graduated, everyone wants a diploma to hang on the wall. My last class ended two weeks ago. Today, I received an email notifying me that I will receive my diploma in the mail, "in approximately six (6) weeks."
Perhaps, Bridgepoint, you all can outsource this job to a Craigslist vendor? They always manage to get things out in two business days. But, Ashford has seen this day steadily approaching for two years. I think it would be fair to have predicted my graduating as I began the last class with a streak of 8 A's and a 3.6 overall gpa. I saw someone else complain about the late delivery; I thought it was silly and an anomaly for certain. But, it seems that six weeks is standard delivery. $150 graduation fee, and it takes two months to deliver the diploma?
It may seem minor. But, I am excited. I want to see my diploma! After all, perhaps more than the knowledge, I invested two years and $13,000 for the piece of paper I can show in interviews and my clients can see on my wall. It's like my birthday has been rescheduled.
Here is the email I received on February 13th, two weeks after my last class on January 30th:
Congratulations on completing all of your degree requirements!
This email is to notify you that your diploma was ordered by the Registrar’s Office. In approximately six (6) weeks, your diploma will be delivered to the address we had on file at the close of the month in which you completed all program requirements. Your diploma will display all the degrees and honors that you have earned at Ashford University; however, your diploma will not display any earned minors, concentrations, or specializations.
As part of our new diploma program which began on July 1, 2011, your diploma will now arrive fully framed to aid you in properly displaying your academic accomplishments. Congratulations on this great achievement!
However, I must note that Ashford did many, many things for me during my two years- and they did them quickly. So, they are still running a 99% approval rating from me. But... it's the diploma! C'mon, people!
Update: I received my framed diploma in the time promised. It is presented in a very nice frame, with a gold-embossed university symbol on the topmost of a triple-layered matte. For my 3.62 gpa, the university bestowed me with cum laude beneath my name.
Ashford University Community Outreach Day
In 2012, Ashford began a program for volunteering. It convened April 24, 2012. Ashford students went into their communities to volunteer and make a difference. This is important for Ashford and online schools. Just about the only thing online schools do not do as well as campus schools is to get students out to volunteer.
Personally, I do not see how that makes a better manager or psychologist. But, the brick and mortar campuses are touting the average number of hours their students volunteer. So, the volunteer day is just one more thing making Ashford a cut above.
It has been almost two years since I graduated. Ashford U. has continued to send me invitations to free webinars on job hunting, resume writing, and interviewing. There have been other topics, too. All the invitations were to events promoting job-hunting skills.