Earn 45% of Credits Towards a Bachelor’s Degree by Working at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart University

I’m all for awarding college credit for real world experiences, but this seems a little ridiculous:

Under a program announced Thursday, employees of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club will be able to receive college credit for performing their jobs, including such tasks as loading trucks and ringing up purchases. Workers could earn as much as 45 percent of the credits needed for an associate or bachelor’s degree while on the job.

The credits are earned through the Internet-based American Public University, with headquarters in Charles Town, W.Va., and administrative offices in Manassas. […]

American Public University is one of a growing number of so-called career colleges that operate on a for-profit model, rather than as state institutions or private foundations. APU’s parent company is publicly traded and its reported revenue jumped 43 percent to $47.3 million during the most recent quarter, while profit rose 46 percent to $7.6 million.

Washington Post: Wal-Mart partners with online school to offer college credit to workers

(Thanks Trevor)

Will any employer other than Wal-Mart have any respect for American Public University degrees? Will Wal-Mart actually have any respect for the degrees themselves?

It’s hard to blame Wal-Mart employees for taking APU up on this offer, though, with the economy in the toilet and with universities across the country raising tuition faster than inflation (recent examples: Oregon, Illinois, Virginia)

But I’m worried this will only lead to increased academic inflation. This will be especially problematic for Wal-Mart employees/students who get low-value degrees like B.A.s communications and political science, like the person the WaPo quoted for the story. Students who focus on sciences and professional degrees will obviously have more success, but they will probably be either less prepared by an APU degree degree or be able to earn far less of their degree by working at Wal-Mart (or both). (Maybe accounting would work.)

Sadly, it sounds like this program is mostly designed to grift Wal-Mart employees for the private gain of APU.

The Church Of Stop Shopping

“Outside the Disney Store on Fifth Avenue 35 bellicose elves were chanting, “Silent night, we’re on strike: no outsourced toys for little tykes”, while a red-robed choir sang, “Stop, stop shopping”. In the midst of this chaos stood a white tuxedoed preacher bellowing into a bullhorn: a “shopocalypse” was coming, the Reverend Billy warned baffled shoppers – “the end of mankind from consumerism, over-consumption and the fires of eternal debt!”

In recent years the Church of Stop Shopping – a secular street-theatre group led by Bill Talen, a 57-year-old playwright and actor – has mounted other similar performances, but this year, with the release of What Would Jesus Buy? , a documentary produced by Morgan Spurlock, director and star of Super Size Me , the protest is going nationwide. The film follows the Rev Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir as they tour the US exhorting Americans to think about the real meaning of Christmas. Chief among a number ofconfrontations-cum-provocations is the occasion when Rev Billy attempts to exorcise Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Arkansas.”

(via The Financial Times)

Now that’s some Wal-Mart effect!

Michael Barbaro breaks down the various advantages, issues, and resistances to the great Compact Fluorescent light bulb conversion, with attention to the might that Wal-Mart is bringing to the table.

Light-bulb manufacturers, who sell millions of incandescent lights at Wal-Mart, immediately expressed reservations. In a December 2005 meeting with executives from General Electric, Wal-Mart’s largest bulb supplier, ‘the message from G.E. was, ?Don’t go too fast. We have all these plants that produce traditional bulbs,’ ‘ said one person involved with the issue, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of an agreement not to speak publicly about the negotiations.

The response from the Wal-Mart buyer was blunt, this person said. ‘We are going there,’ the buyer said. ‘You decide if you are coming with us.’

Now that’s some Wal-Mart Effect. [Link]

Just to follow up… If you read the Times’ piece last week and can’t get enough of this Compact Fluorescent chit-chat, prepare to return back down to earth with yesterday’s more sobering assessment from William Hamilton:

When I found out last week that Wal-Mart, America’s biggest company, was putting a push on compact fluorescent light bulbs, hoping to make them a new lighting standard at home because they use 75 percent less energy, last 10 times longer and would save me $30 over the life of each bulb, I thought to myself, what’s not to like?

Well, fluorescent light’s not to like, many people might say.

[Read more here.]

via the Core77 Monday Morning Must Read newsletter

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