Thursday, January 8, 2009

An Update on What a Degree is Worth--Part #5

This morning I was able to call Rutgers to try and get some information on the Rutgers-
Barrington CBA program.

First, no one in the general information office had ever heard of this program. It took them 20 minutes of calling all around to even get to the point that they found the Barrington website. And they were surprised to see the Rutgers logo on the site.

After they could not give me any information at all they transferred me to the Rutgers School of Business. There I was connected to one of the Deans. Guess what? He had never heard of this program. It is NOT administered by the Business School. The Dean went to the Barrington website and was surprised to see the logo on the site as well. What he could tell me was that no faculty from the Business School were involved in this program. (This leaves me to wonder just what experienced business personnel from Rutgers are serving as online advisors for this course.) And no, the School of Business would not accept this program for transfer credit to Rutgers and he doubted that any department at Rutgers would accept the certificate as transfer credit. As he said, a certificate program is not a degree program. He further surmised that the program sounded like something that would be a Continuing Ed program--one that is not meant for actual college students nor one that equates to actual college study. He further emphasized that there is NO equivalent between such a certificate program and the MBA. Rutgers itself offers certain certificates but they make it very clear that these certificates are vocational training rather than college education.

It's interesting to me that the Dean found the YWN ad when he checked online and commented on it. His feeling was that Barrington was targeting a particular demographic with this program. And he was not happy that Rutgers' name was attached to this program.

So, the Dean is going to check around at Rutgers and find out just where the connection is coming from. He read through the online ad and agreed that it was worded such that it was promising more than it could deliver. And yes, he too commented that for a place that bills itself as "Barrington Institute for Advanced Studies," it's rather strange that it has a .com rather than .edu domain name.


Anonymous said...

Some people are going to be very unhappy with you for bringing this up to begin with and for continuing to cover it. I say good for you! I wonder how many of the other programs that are out there that are not traditional college programs could withstand the type of scrutiny you are giving to this one. I wonder how many of their ads and statements to prospective students are promising more than they can deliver. I agree that training programs can be of benefit to some people, but training by who and in what depth? Keep us posted on what Rutgers says.

Dave said...

At one point I was contacted by a real community college, who wanted me to advise them on a certificate program in my field.

I declined on the grounds that the certificate would be absolutely useless, and therefore would not serve their students at all.

They went ahead with the certificate program anyway because the students wanted one, and because they could get students by having one.

Zach Kessin said...

The whole thing kind of screams "Cargo Cult Education" to me, for what I mean by this read this essay by Richard Feynman, He won the 1965 Nobel Prize for Physics and was one of the most brilliant men of the 20th century.

Anonymous said...

Looks like YWN shut down the comments thread. Wish I could have seen what the Dean had written.

Orthonomics said...

ProfK-Keep on digging is all I have to say.

Anonymous said...

If you look closely at the Barrington brochure you see the Rutgers logo says Rutgers-School of Business-Camden. Rutgers-Camden itself lists a number of online certificate programs, here:

Dave said...

Hmmm, Rutgers-Camden's fee is *half* that of Barrington, and a lot of the verbiage is the same.

I wonder if they are doing some combination of remedial instruction and have you sign up for Rutgers-Camden at the same time.

Anonymous said...

I also noticed the price differential. I wonder if the Barrington name is just for marketing purposes. Like, you might not go to Rutgers-Camden (big time inner city), but you'd go to a "Barrington" program with testimonials from people in Lakewood.

Dave said...

I noticed that Rutgers-Camden advertises that you can design a special certificate program to meet your needs.

I wonder if Barrington is using that to sit on top of Rutgers-Camden for twice the price.

ProfK said...

Just a note: the Dean at Rutgers with whom I spoke is at the School of Business at Rutgers, New Brunswick. Seems to me that the right and left hands at Rutgers don't seem aware about what the other is involved in.

And yes, it's scary that some of the language from the Camden site is almost word for word what appears in the Barrington ad.

fakewood inc. said...

their corporate offices are ii/near lakewood(brick) i called them just know and got a bmg guy on the phone who was trying to push me off.

Anonymous said...

Anyone think of calling Barrington before they start assuming things?

ProfK said...

No one is assuming anything. What we are trying to verify is the exact nature of the relationship between Rutgers and the Barrington program. Asking Rutgers makes sense if you want to know their involvement.

Anonymous said...

Rutgers is a large university with many departments and campuses. Wouldn't it be more simple to contact Barringtons directly? I had contacted Barrington about two weeks ago because I was interested in taking the course. The guy who I spoke with said that the CBA was like a professional development program that focused on everyday business topics and techniques. I was also given the opportunity to log-in to the Rutgers online learning platform and it looked legit to me. Please let me know what you can find out from them. If this is a truly legitimate program it seems like a good educational option for me. From the website it seems that the course covers a broad range of business topics and with the certificate allegedly awarded from Rutgers how can I go wrong when trying to beef up my credentials?
Keep us posted...

Dave said...

Certificates are just this side of useless. But if you want a certificate, and you want it from Rutgers, why would you pay Barrington *twice* what Rutgers charges?

Orthonomics said...

Here is another one for you ProfK:

A master's in education in 9-10 months where you don't have to show up to the workshops. I believe that tradtional education programs include student teaching. There is no mention of a component through this program.

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-Most employers I believe either provide continuing education to their employees in areas they want them to gain greater knowledge/depth or recommend continuing education programs.

I would find out what your employer or future employer wants in terms of professional education first.

ProfK said...


I'm going to echo some of what Dave said. If Barrington had you logging on to a Rutgers' online site, presumably because that is where the online learning platform is, then what are you getting for the $2K extra when you pay Barrington?

If it is that you don't have a college degree and want some professional development work in the business field to show on your resume, then Rutgers carries far more weight as a teaching institution than does Barrington or a combination Rutgers-Barrington certificate.

If you have a college degree but no real work experience and want to show that you have taken some business training, then again, plain Rutgers is a better pedigree.

I'll disagree with Dave a bit that certificates are almost useless. There are many firms that require some of their employees to take some type of professional development study, particularly if the employee wants to qualify for promotion. Usually those certificate programs are more specialized than the Barrington CBA sounds to be. A friend's firm required professional training in website management and/or website design. They recognized a certificate from certain online programs as meeting this requirement.

I guess Anonymous it depends on what you are hoping to get out of the CBA program and also on what you want to use that CBA for. I would just repeat a word of caution that I mentioned earlier. A CBA is not an MBA. Please don't believe/hope that you will get everything that you would have gotten had you gone the traditional college route to get the MBA. That is one difference between the Rutgers Camden site that offers certificate programs and the Barrington website. Rutgers does not tell you that you'll get everything you would get in an MBA program.

Let me leave you with this. If it's that you want to stay in a "heimishe" atmosphere, then you don't need Barrington to do so--the Rutgers' certificate programs are also online. So please, what possible advantage is there to Barrington that Rutgers does not offer?

Dave said...

If an employer says, "we want this skill set, and we consider this certificate as evidence of training", then that is a useful credential for that employer.

In that case, sure, it can be useful. As a general thing, I'm highly unconvinced.

ProfK said...

The requirements for a Masters in Education vary widely from school to school and from one area of the country to another. Student teaching is required of all ed majors on the undergrad level, taken under the supervision of both a classroom teacher and a supervising instructor from the college.

Things get more complicated on the graduate level. If someone does not have an undergrad ed degree or did not take the requisite ed courses and student teaching then some schools will require they take these courses as a non matric before enrolling in the graduate program. Some graduate programs will offer the courses as part of the graduate masters program. For example, Teachers College at Columbia offers one Masters program for undergrad math majors who are now looking to be able to teach math. The student teaching and required ed courses are all part of the Masters program.

You are correct that the program you sent me the link about does not mention any student teaching except as referenced to Seminary graduates without college degrees who want to enter the program.

Where I would want to know more information is about the BTL holders. College degree holders are automatically eligible for the program, and the BTL "qualifies." There is no mention of student teaching for these people.

Maybe I'm being particularly dense right now, but why would a BTL want this Masters in Ed? If he wants to teach limudei kodesh, wouldn't the BTL and/or smicha suffice? And if he doesn't want to teach limudei kodesh then what is he qualified to teach? The Masters program doesn't teach subject matter, only educational methods and theory. There is also this: does anyone know of any yeshiva or day school that requires its rebbis to have a graduate degree in ed or have the specialized education courses? If they are hoping that these BTL/Masters in Ed men are going to go into the public school system to teach, then my question still remains--teach what? And get licensed how?

Anonymous said...

ProfK and Dave,
I spoke to an advisor at Barrington this evening regarding Dave's concerns . It seems that the Rutgers courses are just a component of the entire CBA program. Besides offering double the amount of courses than the courses Dave is referring to, they are also utilizing other educational providers and other online teaching methods within the program. Other components worthy of mention are the internship programs that they coordinate and a study center in Lakewood where students can access computers and where face to face instruction is held. I think people should try verifying their facts before spewing publicly. I hate to be the only objective defender of this program but apparently I`m the only one who is actually pursuing the facts from the source!

ProfK said...

Thank you for the information. Nonetheless, I object to your categorizing what I was doing as "spewing publicly." The points that I took exception to were totally legitimate given the ad and the Barrington website.

You were told that other educational providers were being used--this is not mentioned on their website. Why not? They are certainly "proud" of their Rutgers connection, to the point of calling it the Rutgers-Barrington CBA. Why aren't they equally as "proud" of the other providers? Who are these other providers and how do they compare to Rutgers? This becomes particularly important as these other providers are responsible for half the program, according to what you were told.

What is particularly interesting is that the ad coming through YWN made absolutely no mention of a computer center in Lakewood nor of there being face to face instruction at any point. What they are advertising is a totally online certificate program with one one-day seminar being mentioned as a possibility. Further, the ad and the website specifically state that "all" a student needs is to have a computer and an Internet connection. That is way different from saying the simple words "If you live in Lakewood you don't have to own a computer since you can come in to our computer center and use ours."

The Lakewood Center and the face to face instruction also bring up a couple of other points. Obviously this supposedly all online course was not being targeted only to Lakewood. First, those in Lakewood who might be considered their target audience aren't generally visiting the sites where the ad was placed nor do they routinely get onto the Internet. YWN has a far wider audience than Lakewood. So, what are those who don't live in Lakewood supposed to do? They obviously aren't going to start commuting to Lakewood to use the computer center or take face to face instruction. So, those in Lakewood are going to be getting a "different" program from those taking the program outside of Lakewood?

As to "I`m the only one who is actually pursuing the facts from the source!" I'd just like to remind you that when a program reads "Rutgers-Barrington" Rutgers is a source.

Let me ask you a question. If you had heard that a Barrington Institute was going to be offering a certificate in business administration would you have been as quick to check out the program as you were for one that came enblazoned as a Rutgers-Barrington CBA? If Barrington had other educational providers for half the course, then why go to Rutgers for the other half, and put their name first?

One of the things that a business executive needs to be able to do is to distinguish between reality and (mis)perception. A business executive needs to be able to apply critical thinking to the mass of information that is available today in order to make the best, most informed decision possible.

ProfK said...

Oh, and Anonymous, if it was you who mentioned to Barrington the little tidbit about the "Speek to an Advisor" error, then thank you, for someone has made the correction. And if it was not you, then thanks to whichever reader passed along the information. You see Anonymous, public discussion can lead to improvement.

Anonymous said...

Yea..I was searching their site for that error after I read your post but couldn't`t find it. And wouldn't you think a simple email to the webmaster would have accomplished the same outcome? Please be honest here. Your Dad`s fly is open at a business conference. Five grown men start whispering to each other and break out laughing. Your Dad realizes that his zipper is the object of humor so he embarrassingly zips it up. Would it have been more effective if the man who first noticed whispered in his ear to fix it? You see ProfK, public discussion can lead to harm.
Now I know you`ll have a crafty reply to this and that's why I usually like reading your posts. But I`m goin to sleap (Ha!) and I want you to at least consider my thought. Good night all...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, most businesses don't put up an ad and then expect that kind readers will call them directly to point out errors or problems with the ad. It's up to the business to check its ad carefully before it goes out. That's part of doing business. Not analogous to the open zipper at all.

I first noticed this ad popping up last month. It says nothing about an on-site portion of the course, which would have been a very important thing to know. If you look at the testimonials from past users of the course, they are coming from all over geographically. Did these people commute from Florida, Canada and Israel? Or did they, as the Prof suggested, get a different course from the one you are going to get?

If this course is going to be teaching anything about marketing as part of the course they should understand that their own marketing techniques and ads are going to raise lots of questions.

Anonymous said...

Look, this either wasn't a good job of writing the ad and the website or it was intentionally done to give a different impression then what is really true. Either way, if you put yourself out there in public then expect public discussion. Public discussion can lead to harm? So can trying to put somethiing over on someone else publicly.

Anonymous said...


Even if this program is "legit" (whatever that means), the point remains that this certificate course is being billed as a substitute for a bachelor's degree or an MBA. The BTL graduates and others from seminaries and yeshivas view this certificate as a shortcut to getting a real education. They are taking advantage of this mindset that everyone who goes to college and graduate school is a sucker and they're more intelligent than everyone else and have the inside scoop.

Point is, any real employer would laugh a person with only this certificate as their formal education out the door. I really don't see what doors this certificate opens for someone with no other educational background. What does this certificate now qualify them to do that they couldn't have done before? Are various frum organizations requiring something like this now?

I just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

What does a Bachelors degree qualify one to do? Does having a bachelors degree prove business competence? Just because this certificate doesn't lead to a formal degree why does it fall in the category of "what does this certificate qualify them to do that they couldn't have done before?" Is having a degree all that? Having an official document? Also, what does a real education mean? Does it have to mean 6 years $30k? In Europe their doing away with the traditional educational system and deploying programs similar to this Barrington one. If someone wants a practical business training that concentrates on subjects that affect everyday business let them have it! Is there s/t wrong with that? Obviously it should be understood that there is a big difference from the traditional programs but because it1s different does that mean it1s useless? Tell me, if you were an employer who would you hire first? A BMG graduate with no business education or a BMG grad with an informal business training. Point is, probably 80 percent of BMG grads who end up in the workforce don`t end up with a Masters degree. How terrible would it be if these people acquired some form of business education? "No! We can`t let them!...They think their outsmarting us!...Oh no!..They may be more successful then us suckers who think that all Yeshiva students should go straight to college right after high school. Lets make sure to tell them that there is no inside scoop!" "Phew we almost let them get away with the notion that secular education is actually worth something!"
Js, Let me give you advice on "shortcuts"...TAKE THEM IF THAT`S YOUR BEST OPTION.

Anonymous said...

BMG grad: the employer would probably not choose the BMG grad with the certificate or the one without the certificate. He would probably hire someone else with better qualifications. If someone is dead set on hiring only BMG grads, he probably doesn't care about the certificate one way or another.

ProfK said...

My objection was not aimed at vocational training versus a regular college degree. I have often said that not everyone should be going to college. So yes, better to have some business training than to go out in the work world without any knowledge of what to expect or how to go on.

Many postings ago I mentioned that the Hanhalah from Lakewood had approached my husband's boss a few years ago in a quandry. There were older talmidim in the yeshiva who were finally going to be leaving the bais medrash and had absolutely no training in anything that they could make a living with. A program was set up in some of the basics of computers for these talmidim. I not only had no problem with this, I applauded it because someone was taking a practical approach to a difficult problem. But here is where the difference is between that program and what Barrington is advertising. The program my husband's company gave was not billed as a certificate, it wasn't billed as a degree, it wasn't billed as being the equal of a college education, it didn't promise to give the attendees anything more than some basic skills that they could build on in the workplace.

The Barrington CBA program may indeed give its attendees some exposure to business practices that they need to know if they are going to get a job and keep it. And yes, better some knowledge than no knowledge. But my objection is to the way this program has been marketed and advertised. If you have seen the ad and the website then you know that they are making the connection that a Barrington CBA is a solid alternative to an MBA. Baloney. Why bring the MBA in at all? The two programs are not "separate but equal." Because Barrington is saying that its program is the equal of a college degree or graduate degree then its attendees are surely going to assume it is and yes, some of them may feel smug that they got something for a lot cheaper than others are getting it for.

If the Barrington program is your best/only option, then take it, but walk in with your eyes open. You aren't getting anything near a college education with this program, and no amount of hype on the part of Barrington is going to change that fact.

ProfK said...

Oh, and BMGgrad, the European system has long been different from the American system, already starting from the early years of education. Students are not encouraged to go to college unless they qualify at the highest levels. A college degree in Europe is not a universal option for all students in high school. Vocational training in specialized schools has been around for decades and decades. But then a lot/most of Europe is still a class system socially.

Anonymous said...


First of all, I sincerely hope those who collect for yeshivas and other causes go after those who take this certificate program and not me or the many others who seek out real bachelor's degrees and master's degrees, etc. After all, if there's no difference in the workplace, I would have to assume they'll make excellent salaries from this certificate and you won't be needing my or any other degreed Jew's contribution.

You do a disservice to the Jewish people by devaluing education and thinking that a degree is just an "official document." There's a lot more to life and education than what is found in a gemara. You can't learn finance or economics from the laws of Ribit, you need a secular education for that.

What you fail to realize is that anyone practicing in a field and who has been elevated to a position where he is authorized to hire people, knows a thing or two about the worth of the credentials a person puts on their resume and knows what questions to ask a person to elicit whether they have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the job. Whether you like it or not, the person with the degree is more knowledgeable and better capable of handling the job than a person with just a certificate, on average. When you're looking through 50-100+ resumes and have headhunters sending you applicants to review for an interview, you're not looking at the ones with certificates.

Which is what you fail to realize with your BMG or BMG+certificate question. It just shows you don't get it. I wouldn't interview either of them, nor would the vast majority of companies. I'd look for someone with a degree, with formal education. It tells me and other employers something beyond the fact that they have a "official document." It tells me about their ability to handle a certain workload, their skillset, how they stack up against others in the field. It can even be a gauge of intelligence if they went to a more elite school. You can pooh pooh this and say it's just perception and not reality, but who cares? People are judging you based on 1 one page resume and if you're lucky an interview, why wouldn't you want to be perceived as better? Not seeking a real degree indicates laziness, a desire to not have to work hard, and a sign that someone is not willing to invest in their future.

You don't want to have the same career options, you want to make less money, you don't want a real education? fine. Just don't go around telling me this is a substitute for a bachelor's degree or an MBA. Don't go around telling me this provides the same opportunities. Just admit what it is. It's a half-baked certificate for people who show disdain for secular education, but realize that some semblance of that secular education is necessary to get a job.

Anonymous said...

I would add that in these difficult economic times with everyone rushing to get advanced degrees to up their credentials you're advocating a certificate program. Crazy.

Dave said...

Actually the Barrington certificate would at this point make me less likely to hire someone.

After all, if they wanted the education, they could get the Rutgers certificate (which appears, based on the web site, to be the meat of the Barrington program) for half the price.

If they are that foolish with their money, how can I trust them to be responsible with mine?

Anonymous said...

I dunno, maybe it's me . . . The thing that bugs me the most is that Barrington seems to be deliberately misleading to the people who look to it to improve their lives. Apart from the promises made that the certificate is virtually the equivalent of an MBA . . . Even the very basics:

1) The domain name: On the Internet, the .edu classification is one of the few for which you still have to qualify as a legitimate educational institution. Ending your domain name with those three letters is a major statement, with absolutely no significance otherwise. The fact that their domain name is tells me that they don't qualify as a .edu, but want people to think of them as such.

2) More importantly, I'm concerned at the "testimonials" they're giving. On the introductory page to the CBA program they quote:

"I was very satisfied with my experience and I`m glad I enrolled. I feel like I was able to learn the fundamentals of various business topics which was important for me as someone with a Talmudic Studies background (and no business courses). It sparked many ideas for me which I will carry with me into my career in the future".
– D.C. Lakewood

On the "Testimonials" page, they quote:

"I was very satisfied with my experience and I`m glad I enrolled. I feel like I was able to learn the fundamentals of various business topics which was important for me as someone with a Talmudic Studies background (and no business courses). It sparked many ideas for me which I will carry with me into my career in the future".
– J.U, WH Express Williamsburg, NY

Now, it's possible that someone made a mistake in transcription, and accidentally attributed one person's quote to someone else. It's also possible that some of the classes are taught by The Amazing Alexander (5 points to anyone who catches that one), but more likely this happened because this is a new program, there is no one who has actually completed it to give testimony, so they're making things up.

3) Other than the CBA program, their "hundreds of quality distance education programs" are there purely in their capacity as a reseller of "Education To Go" courses.

What bothers me here: It's quite possible that they're offering a valuable service that can be of assistance to many in their target community. But why do they have to lie and misrepresent to their community upfront?

Dave said...

This program is apparently officially associated with Rutgers-Camden.

I have a lost a great deal of respect for Rutgers for selling its name like this.

Anonymous said...

There's another program called T.E.A.M. advertising in Jewish publications. It claims you can get a master's in education in 9 months of home study. "Perfect for people with degrees in Talmudic study", etc. The "discounted" cost is "only" $7,300. I don't have the ad in front of me, but I think these programs are starting up like weeds.

Anonymous said...

Dave: In defense of Rutgers, I would say that Rutgers-Camden clearly serves a *very* different population than Rutgers-New Brunswick or even Rutgers-Newark. Camden is probably the most disadvantaged city in all of NJ.

Dave said...

They are still devalueing the Rutgers brand and identity.

The confusion that the Barrington folks are taking advantage of is a perfect example of why you don't do that.