Kaplan Courses in Community Colleges

In an update to the February story of Kaplan University’s agreement to offer some California Community College courses, apparently it’s not working out so well. According to an article by David Moltz in Inside Higher Ed:

Months later, though it is unclear how many students have taken advantage of the option, critics view the deal as at best an “evil necessity” and at worst a dereliction by community college and state leaders of their responsibility to ensure a low-cost postsecondary education for state residents. Some also worry that Kaplan’s marketing of the agreement gives prospective students the appearance of a state endorsement of the company in particular and for-profit education in general.

The agreement allows California Community College students to take single courses at Kaplan in order to meet degree requirements. The community college created the relationship in part to deal with capacity problems; there are simply too many students in the system for them all to get the classes they need. Students in only a few community colleges are currently taking Kaplan courses. It’s a trial program.

Part of the trouble with the Kaplan option appears to be the transferability of credits. While California Community Colleges will accept the Kaplan credits, for many students a mere associate’s degree is not their only goal. Students within the state’s community college system often enter with the explicit intention of eventually transferring to a California State University school or one of the branches of the University of California. There’s no assurance that these institutions will accept the Kaplan credits a student assumed in a community college.

According to Kaplan University’s Jaime Cocuy, Kaplan’s in it to help the students, or something: “Kaplan University recognized that California Community Colleges were facing unprecedented challenges and we knew there was an opportunity to help.”

While students in California’s community colleges get a discount on the Kaplan courses, according to the Moltz article:

A standard three-credit online course at Kaplan costs $1,113, and a discounted three-credit course there costs California students $645. By comparison, a three-credit course at a California community college costs a mere $78.

So that’s $567 more for courses of questionable quality that baccalaureate institutions don’t have to recognize. How is that helping?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer