Virtual degrees lack real world experience

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (U-WIRE) — What the hell are we doing here? Each day we climb out of a warm bed and drive a distance, often incredibly long, to get to St. Louis University, surviving traffic just to be without a place to park. We are doing it the hard way. We can stay at home and get the exact same stuff. No, I’m not talking about one of those correspondence schools where you can learn gun repair through the mail. I’m speaking of cybernetic doctorates.
It is not unusual to receive a college degree over the Internet, but you may not be aware that doctoral degrees, the most advanced degree a university can confer, are also available via the World Wide Web. There was even a big fuss made recently about whether one should be made available in Missouri, or rather, from Missouri. It concerned the American College of Forensic Examiners. The ACFE is located in Springfield, Mo., but don’t go down there to tour the campus. There isn’t anyone there. In fact, there isn’t a campus. No buildings, no library, no labs, no professors or students. The ACFE operates entirely by computer. It was designed to aid those who could not attend classes because of family or work. When the administration started handing out Ph.D.s, it didn’t take long for them to be hauled before the Missouri Coordinating Board of Higher Education.
A strong argument against the ACFE is that doctorates are based on research, which does not apply to long-distance learning. My problem with it is that it’s Ph.D.s today and maybe M.D.s tomorrow. If this educational pattern continues, the first time a doctor may see the inside of the human body is when he performs his first operation — is there a possibility you may be that patient? Right now they are giving them out for forensic science. In the short term, this will eliminate any probability that the inexperienced doctor will eliminate the patient; there aren’t a lot of ways to kill someone who is already dead. Still, it is nice to know that the medical examiner will not mutilate your late aunt’s lungs searching for her kidneys.
The idea of just sitting in front of a computer all day and getting your degree sounds fair. After all, that will most likely be how you’ll spend eight hours a day in the working world. Most of us are Dilberts waiting to happen. But if you’re going for a job that will require you to get your hands dirty to learn to do it right, then dive into it. There is more to an education than books and computer screens.
In the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to be wary of a doctor with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Mike Sanders’ column originally appeared in Tuesday’s edition of the St. Louis University News.