Online Education: Westwood College

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Founded as the Denver Institute of Technology in 1953, Westwood College has seventeen campus locations in six states as well as an online division. Typically, when students search for information about distant learning through this for-profit school, they encounter the term Westwood College Online to help differentiate this program from on campus learning.

Westwood College Online offers twenty-five diploma, associate, bachelor’s and master’s programs in a wide range of fields from Business Administration to Game Art and from Interior Design to Web Design and Multimedia. The school says that they are an online branch of Westwood College – Los Angeles, but online learning is not available in every state. Westwood is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) and is candidate with The Higher Learning Commission and an affiliate of the North Central Association.

From Humble Beginnings

Westwood College is a division of Alta College, Inc. a privately-held, for-profit business founded by a pair of Harvard Business School grads – Kirk Riedinger and Jamie Turner. With no money of their own to invest, the men purchased the Denver Institute of Technology in 1987, the first of more than a dozen schools which are now part of their company.

“Over 75 percent of adult Americans don’t have bachelor’s degrees,” explained Riedinger to the Denver Business Journal in June 2002. “We offer career-focused education to prepare students who are launching a career, changing a career or enhancing a career. Our curriculum is constantly updated based on the industry and the feedback we receive.”

Looking Behind The Scenes

But re-minted Westwood College hasn’t been without controversy nor has Alta College, Inc. its owner. Earlier this year Westwood College settled a lawsuit brought against by the federal government, alleging that the school misrepresented the type of school that it is and did not provide careers for its students.

The suit alleged that Westwood College claimed that 97% of its graduates went on to get jobs, but those figures were later disproved and shown to me far lower. Some students complained that transferring credits from Westwood to another college or university wasn’t possible as Westwood had promised, meaning that their transcripts were rejected.

Westwood College settled its lawsuit with the federal government though the school without admitting to wrongdoing. Lately, the law firm of James, Hoyer, Newcomer, Smiljanich & Yanchunis, P.A. has been gathering evidence to present a class action suit against the school (see first YouTube video). The school has countered with its own YouTube campaign to refute allegations (see second YouTube video).

More Information

James, Hoyer, Newcomer, Smiljanich & Yanchunis, P.A. (class action suit information)

Riedinger, Turner head the class with Alta College

Westwood College settles federal lawsuit

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Riedinger, Turner head the class with Alta College

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Categories: Online Education