University of Phoenix for Dummies

The title of this post should elicit a response. It is a double entendre of sorts.


Many of you know I am currently earning my MBA in Marketing from the University of Phoenix through a scholarship from the National Retail Federation called Dream BIG. (If you are in retail and also want a chance to win a full scholarship for your bachelor’s or master’s degree from UoP, apply before April 8th.)

In the last 6 months I have taken a number of courses related to business management, organizational structure, business law, and leadership. Throughout this process, I have found there is certain behaviors that can make you more successful when working on your online degree.


First, nearly 30% of my time “in class” has been through the Phoenix App on my phone. This app is part messaging and part video game. By responding to discussion posts (at least 8 times per week on 3 different days), I am awarded participation points. I have found particular success with starting threads early in the week to generate lively debate throughout the week that easily meets the minimum requirements.

The next big component of your grade is weekly quizzes. These quizzes are open book multiple choice and take a few minutes to complete. You can ask for hints and change your answer before submitting.  Combined with your participation score, you will have about 25 points toward your 100 point grade.

The final exam (15 points) is usually a little more difficult and has no hints. It is a timed 3 hour open book test. If you take your time, you can easily ace these by looking up your notes or searching the online text book. (now we are at 40 points for the course).

The remaining 60 points come from individual papers and team assignments. The individual papers are where I have found the most learning occurs. I research using the online libraries of peer-reviewed articles (there is a peer-reviewed study on everything. no lie, just ask me to research it for you and I will point to some article in an obscure journal proving that Walmart was first devised by the government as an experiment in distribution of wealth.) Individual papers = 30 more points.

The team papers are where strategy comes into play. Often, I am very busy throughout the week and I have been challenged with time to complete, discuss, and submit these. My current strategy is to volunteer to format, edit, check citations, and submit the paper once they have completed their parts. This gives me time to breathe and puts the responsibility on them to complete first. Typically, I work late into the night on the last day of class that week to submit each paper. I have the control. I can make them perfect. (Our last 30 points, reaching our goal of 100 for the course!).

Using this method, I have been able to maintain almost a 4.0 (there was a class in there with another learning team member who submitted a paper with many errors without clearing the rest of the team – I earned an A- ).

The biggest challenges I have had throughout the program has been in the Learning Teams. These cohorts are assigned by the professors and often include people in different timezones and careers. (One woman was working in Africa!).

I have been truly impressed by a few of my team members who have shown considerable attention to detail and a scholarly approach to their studies. Unfortunately, I have also seen the other side of the coin. Some learning team members have shown me why the University of Phoenix could get a bad reputation. Many of these will hopefully be sorted out through the course of the program, but many are skating through on the heels of the abilities of their fellow classmates.

I implore any of my fellow students to highlight any plagiarism. Be vigilant in raising the standard for our institution. When I say, “I am Daniel White. I am a Phoenix.” I want to be proud of the work and the degree I earned. I refuse to accept a lower quality education. This program is what you make it. I am making it worthwhile.

talk to you soon



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