September 24, 2021

Unlimited programs for $99.00 a month…

Academe may look askance at Straighterline.com, (www.straighterline.com) the commercial service that offers basic college courses online for $99 a month. But the enterprise has lately been getting a lot of press attention, with some education experts seeing it as an harbinger of higher education’s future.

 The service, which started last year, allows students to take as many self-guided courses as they want for —as Straighterline’s Web site says — “less than the cost of your monthly cell phone bill.” 

 The $99 fee gives students access to course content from McGraw-Hill, 10 hours of one-to-one instructional support, and a course advisor. The business grew out of SmartThinking, a popular online tutoring service.

 What’s in it for students? A fast track, relatively inexpensive way to a college degree. Straighterline has partnered with at least four accredited higher education institutions that have agreed to accept credits from Straighterline students.

 The company Web site lists four partners: Charter Oak State College, Fort Hays State University, Lake City Community College, and Potomac College. Potomac is the sole proprietary institution.

 An article (http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/college_guide/feature/college_for_99_a_month.php?page=all) in the most recent issue of Washington Monthly traces the development and struggles of Straighterline and warns big and non-elite colleges that the Washington DC-based business could herald their unraveling.

 “The day is coming—sooner than many people think—when a great deal of money is going to abruptly melt out of the higher education system, just as it has in scores of other industries that traffic in information that is now far cheaper and more easily accessible than it has ever been before, ” writes Kevin Carey, the author of the article. “Much of that money will end up in the pockets of students in the form of lower prices, a boon and a necessity in a time when higher education is the key to prosperity.” 

In another article (http://features.csmonitor.com/innovation/2009/10/15/the-future-of-college-may-be-virtual/), this one in the Oct. 15 edition of the Christian Science Monitor, Carey is quoted discussing Straighterline in the context of the growth in online education.

And in an opinion piece (http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2009/10/06/hess) in Inside Higher Education, Frederick Hess, of the American Enterprise Institute, cites Straighterline as one example of why President Obama’s initiative to get the government involved in developing free, online courses is unnecessary.

 —- Andrea L. Foster

ForProfitEDU.com

ForProfitEDU.com welcomes veteran journalist Andrea Foster

 

ForProfitEDUis proud to welcome future contributions from veteran journalist Andrea Foster.  Our relationship with  Andrea Foster is a positive step in our continued efforts to provide you with quality industry content.  We look forward to the work she will be sharing in the coming months.

Andrea Foster is a veteran journalist whose specialty is education, technology, and Congress. She wrote for eight years about the intersection of academe and technology for The Chronicle of Higher Education, and before that, for The National Law Journal and Congressional Quarterly, among other publications.