I'm a middle age, college educated, professional software engineer considering a change of career. I decided to take the Gunsmith career course from Penn Foster to see if that is the direction I want to go. The cost is low - $655.00 if paid in full at enrollment. Apparently, Penn Foster is not used to this type of student.
This is not a difficult course, especially for someone who has a technical background and is already familiar with the subject. I planned to knock out the entire course over 7 to 10 days.
I paid my tuition over the phone, received my Student ID and asked for all my program materials to be shipped immediately. The usual course of action is to complete a section of study and then the school ships another section's materials. I had to sign a "waiver" in order to get this arrangement, which I did. In any event, there was the usual paperwork (student contract, "waiver", criminal background check, etc.) which must be completed, signed and faxed back. Again, I did this the same day I paid my tuition.
There are only 19 lessons in the course spread over 6 sections. The first day I completed the first section (2 exams). The second day the second section (4 exams). I skipped a day and was prepared to spend a day on the third section (4 exams). Upon logging in, I noticed my account had been suspended. I called student services and was told that my application had not been processed. They had my application, but had not processed it yet. I expressed my displeasure and reiterated the fact that I had already paid for the course, they had my money and I had already sent in all the required paperwork. The representative(s) confirmed that they had the paperwork, it had simply not been processed. In addition, they could not tell me when it would be processed, since that was in "another department". At this point I was not happy. As of now, I am not able to continue. I do expect this to be cleared up, but the question is when.
In addition, some of the course materials are backordered! Not for one of the later sections of the course, but for the second section! I was told it would be 3-4 weeks before I would receive the material. How, can this be backordered? If I were at a traditional school campus, this would not happen. How can they possible expect people to wait for materials for a course? Especially when its already been paid for! If there was a legitimate reason for the backorder, you would expect them to expedite the shipping. The materials which are backordered I can actually order myself from other vendors and have them in 2-3 days. So why will it take 3-4 weeks?
Before you fork over your money to Penn Foster, get a guarantee in writing that they will process your paperwork within 24 hours of receiving it and that they have all course materials in stock. Otherwise, you'll may be waiting on them to catch up to you before you can finish your course of study. Overall, this is unacceptable and shows poor management of their back office.
So far I am pleased with the instruction (although the videos are not very professionally done) and the material is a bit "light", it is meeting my expectations. I did not expect a $655.00 course to be completely comprehensive in the area of Gunsmithing. However, for my purpose, to explore another career possibility, it is adequate.