by Daniel Luzer
Western Oklahoma State College will no longer be offering a series of courses designed for students to earn credits quickly. The online quick credits offered an innovative way for adult learners and other community college students to earn college credits in their spare time.
This was all fine until the Chronicle of Higher Education noticed something interesting about these courses:
You’ve probably never heard of Western Oklahoma State College. But call almost any major athletics department, and staff there know it well.
Its name comes up whenever athletes get themselves in a jam: They’ve failed a class. They’ve dropped another. Maybe they’re just short on credits. But they still want to play.
There were a lot of college athletes earning credit from Western Oklahoma. Nearly half of all students taking the quick credit online courses played college sports.
Western Oklahoma gives them a chance, offering three credits in two weeks—and for less than $400. Almost as appealing: The community college mails out transcripts the day after classes end, allowing players to get back on the field with minimal disruption.
How could the school offer this service? Probably because the courses were super easy to pass. According to the Chronicle article, one linebacker at Dakota State University took a two week course in sociology from Western Oklahoma, never bothered to buy the textbook and passed all the tests (and earned academic credit) by just looking at some slides and videos. The examinations were unmonitored.
And so the college is shutting the courses down. According to an article in the The Oklahoman:
Western Oklahoma State College will no longer offer a type of controversial online course reportedly favored by college athletes looking for quick credits, school officials announced Wednesday.
The college’s announcement came hours after the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education released a report recommending the college immediately discontinue its 10-day online intersession courses.
Western Oklahoma State College President Phil Birdine said officials at his school were working to create “other options” for online courses, explaining that “I remain confident about the innovative work of our faculty and staff, the rigor of our courses and the efforts we take daily to advance higher education through the use of technology.”
Also those easy-to-earn college credits probably provide a nice little stream of funding for Western Oklahoma, don’t they?