Adult Learner Success Stories

If you think college is tough, try going back to school while balancing the responsibilities of a job, or a family, or both! As you’ll discover when you read these success stories, though, if you want something badly, nothing can stand in your way. (Of course, our flexible, convenient and affordable self-paced online courses do make the process a little easier for adult learners like you.)

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StraighterLine Student of the Month: Melissa Molina

Melissa Molina has taken seven StraighterLine classes, and she plans to take more.

Why is she such a committed StraighterLine student? “I added the money up and discovered that they cost me an average of about $50 per class,” Melissa ways with a laugh. But when you talk to this energetic young New Yorker, you learn that StraighterLine did more than just save her money.

Here are notes from a recent conversation.

StraighterLine: What led you to StraighterLine?

Melissa Molina: There I was in my twenties. I had a good job as an office manager in a radiology practice, but I realized that if I wanted to advance my career, I needed to earn a college degree. So I went online and found StraighterLine. I have to say, I was skeptical about online education at first.

SL: Why skeptical?

MM: Well, how would it work? But then I thought about it and realized that online was a better option for me. I was working a job. I am the mother of a toddler. I have family responsibilities. My life is like that. Once I started taking courses, it turned out that I can do my coursework over my lunch breaks, on weekends, whenever time is available.

SL: What courses have you taken?

MM: So far, I have taken Anatomy & Physiology I with Lab, Anatomy & Physiology II with Lab, Microbiology, Business Law, Business Statistics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, and Pharmacology. I plan to take more.

SL: That’s a lot of classes!

MM: Well as I said, I want to move into a more managerial position. And that means earning a college degree.

SL: And you are doing that too, correct?

MM: Yes, I am currently a student at Excelsior College. I will graduate next December.

SL: So you were able to transfer your credits to Excelsior, which is one of our Partner Colleges, and then attend that college as a regular student? How did that work? Was it difficult to transfer your credits over and enter a degree program there?

MM: No, it was all really easy.

SL: As you mentioned, you were able to fit your courses and studying around your busy schedule. Were you pleased with the quality of the courses? Did you have questions that you needed answered while you were taking courses, and how did that work?

MM: The classes were all very good for me. As I said, the flexibility. And no, I really did not need to contact technical help or instructors while taking the courses, so I can’t comment on that.

SL: Have you recommended StraighterLine to other people? Would you?

MM: I have recommended StraighterLine to friends who mentioned they were thinking about going back to school.

StraighterLine Student Profile: Donnie Davis

In September, 2012, a student named Donnie Davis was grappling with the fact that he only needed to complete one three-credit course before he could earn his Bachelor of Business Administration from Strayer University.

“I was thinking of CLEPPING it,” he says, meaning that he was about to take one of the CLEP exams to earn the credits he needed to graduate. Then a Dean at Strayer suggested, “Why don’t you think about taking the course you need at StraighterLine?”

Up to that point, Davis had not heard of StraighterLine. He was a busy guy, working several jobs, including one as a medical lab technician. How could he find time to complete a course? But he checked out StraighterLine online and enrolled in Western Civilization I. In less than a month, he had finished the course and earned the three credits he needed to complete his degree and graduate.

A Cost-Efficient Solution

“The savings were huge,” Davis says. “I enrolled in StraighterLine’s $99/month plan. In addition to that fee, I paid $49 for the course, and also bought a textbook for the course. I dove in, worked hard, and finished the course in three weeks.

“In the end, that three-credit course cost me less than $200, and that included tuition, textbook, everything. I’d estimate that I saved more than $1,500 on just that one class. I have paid thousands more from other universities and wish I had heard about you all sooner.”

A Quality Course

Davis loves to learn. He explains that he is not the kind of person who was looking for an easy way.

“The course was a very good experience,” he explains. “I found the content interesting. In fact, I read the entire textbook, every chapter, and I studied hard. But I am a person who likes to work and learn. The course’s curriculum was not easy. But I liked the fact that I had to work hard to pass exams.”

Help When He Needed It

The StraighterLine course did not leave Davis unattended when he needed help or had questions.

“Just once,” he recalls, “I had a question about some of the questions that were on one exam. I asked, I got a quick response, and I was happy with the outcome.”

Now, His Career Is On Track

Davis explains, “I am a medical lab technician. But as I said before, I like to work hard! I am eager to move up into management, and my BBA degree will help me do that. I also plan to go back to school at some point to earn an MBA degree.”

Summing Up His StraighterLine Experience

“What an exceptional value.” Davis says. “That was a real sigh of relief for me because I was already graduating college with loans to repay. But I will repay them, like I take care of all my finances, and when I will go back to school to earn an MBA, StraighterLine will be part of my plans. I’ll be back!”

StraighterLine Student of the Month: Margaret Robertson

When the recession made Margaret Robertson shut her business down, she didn’t slow down a bit. She turned to education and StraighterLine to explore new career options and achieve new success.

Let’s hear Margaret’s story in this recent conversation with the StraighterLine blog.

StraighterLine: Can you tell me a little about yourself - where you live, what you do, and what your career and educational plans are?

Margaret Robertson: My name is Margaret Robertson and I live in a tiny country town in East Texas called Elysian Fields. I am a mother of five, plus one more child that we recently took into our home. I also have one four-month-old granddaughter and another due in August. I have been in the hair business for 23 years, most of my life. When the economy started going down, so did my business. So I closed shop literally and decided it was time to start a new journey in my life.

My son was diagnosed with ADHD, and the more I researched counseling and education in school, the more I found out that these children are overlooked and misunderstood on so many levels. That prompted me to take the step, to be the best advocate I could for my child. He deserved that, so I started college in August of 2009 at Ashford University. During that time, my husband was laid off after 13 years with a company, so I found myself taking another path as well. We started a garden and a canning business in 2011, and it has grown in an unbelievable way. This business allows me to make some income and still be able to meet my college goals. I try hard to let my children see our struggles and our triumphs so that they know there is never a barrier too big for us, that we cannot overcome.

SL: Why and how did you find StraighterLine?

MR: I found StraighterLine through my academic advisor at Ashford University. I was seeking his advice on whether or not I could triple major in holistic medicine. It turned out that after looking into my financing and funding, I was not going to have enough money left to even obtain my Bachelor’s degree. All that hard work and years of sacrifice down the drain – in my mind. All I could think about was so close, and yet so far away.

I began looking into scholarship options, and even dropped my second major so that I could just have electives to see what I could do. My advisor sent me links to scholarships and then to StraighterLine and asked me to check into it, and of course I was very eager, I wanted to obtain my degree, and with that option not only could I obtain the degree, I could save about $10,000 and graduate eight months early. Win-win for sure.

SL: What classes are you taking, and why?

MR: I am currently in Nutrition, Accounting I, and II. I will also be adding Western Civilization I and II, and Business Law. The reason for taking these classes is mainly that they will transfer to Ashford and they were already approved. However, I am person who tries to think ahead. With that, Nutrition benefits me when it comes to the canning products I make and Accounting I and II and Business Law will also benefit me and my business practices.

SL: Have you been able to earn credits in those courses to reach your educational goals?

MR: I am sure that I will be able to use all of those credits in a manner that is beneficial to my future career and goals that I will set for myself.

SL: Were you pleased with the quality of the courses?

MR: I am very pleased with the classes that I am taking. I have already used them and applied them to my real-life experiences.

SL: If you had questions or concerns, were you able to get them answered by StraighterLine personnel?

MR: I did have one issue with the proctoring setup. As the day progressed, I sent a message to see if I could get the issue resolved. Then shortly after I submitted a ticket, I realized what the problem was. I simply needed to change my popup blocker settings, it was a duh moment. I had a response in under12 hours, which was so wonderful.

SL: Would you take more StraighterLine courses or recommend them to other people?

MR: I would absolutely take more courses. I have not only recommended StraighterLine to other people, I also keep a link and share and recommend it to those that are struggling because of high college costs and the difficulty of qualifying for financial aid.

StraighterLine is a simple solution to the economic issues we are facing with debt and college. I am happy to be an advocate for StraighterLine!

StraighterLine Success Story: Beverly Williams

Some students take online courses at StraighterLine to get a start on college. Others take courses to complete their Bachelor’s degrees. But there are many other reasons to take StraighterLine courses too, as we learned in a recent conversation with Beverly Williams. After taking only one StraighterLine course, Beverly moved her career in a whole new direction. Let’s find out how.

StraighterLine: Did you use StraighterLine courses to finish college?

Beverly Williams: Actually, I had already earned a BA from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 1998, where I majored in French. Then I earned a JD from Concord Law School in 2008. However, all the jobs I was interested in preferred a business degree. So I started working at Thomas Edison State College to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting.

SL: How did you find out about StraighterLine?

BW: I had taken several CLEP and Dantes tests, all successfully. But finding good study materials was always a risk, and I never knew if I had studied enough. While searching for study tips on the InstantCert bulletin board, I started reading about StraighterLine. I was enrolled in Managerial Communication at Thomas Edison State College at the time, and taking two accounting courses too. It was too much! I remembered that I could also fulfill my degree requirements by taking a course in business communications. Thomas Edison didn’t offer it. But I checked StraighterLine’s course list, found it there, and took Business Communications at StraighterLine during a one-month break between my other courses. I really enjoyed it.

SL: What was it like to study Business Communications at StraighterLine?

BW: I found the course to be very well organized and the assignments to be well aligned with the reading material. I found the writing projects to be both challenging and reasonable. Overall, I found the course to be better thought-out than many online classes I have taken. The course was interesting and more applicable to my working environment. I felt like it was sufficiently challenging for a 100-level course, without being excessive. If I had known about StraighterLine earlier, I would have used it instead of taking CLEP and Dantes tests. StraighterLine offers a clearer path to success and it is easier to schedule. I had to miss quite a few days of work to take all those ACE exams. Now that I know how StraighterLine works, I recommend it to anyone going back to school.

SL: Did you communicate with your instructors during your StraighterLine course?

BW: Yes. I appreciated the feedback I received on graded assignments.

SL: Were you able to transfer credits from your StraighterLine courses?

BW: Yes, I transferred my credits to Thomas Edison State College. It worked fine.

SL: How did your StraighterLine courses impact on your life?

BW: I took only one course, but it is helping me complete another degree. I am a Senior Buyer/Planner for an international corporation; this is the last piece that I need for the CPA exam in California. 2013 is full of new possibilities and all of that can be attributed to the work done last year.

StraighterLine Student Profile: Nino Diaz

When he was a teenage father, Nino A. Diaz had to put his education on hold so he could work to support his family. But he is a resourceful man. He knew that even though he was busy working, he didn’t have to stop making plans for the future.

“I made a goal to graduate from college before my son completed his high school education,” he explains. “This is important to me since I have been encouraging him to attend college as a traditional age student. StraighterLine helped to reinvigorate my motivation and complete my goal of being a role model to my son.”

In a recent conversation with StraighterLine, Nino A. Diaz told us even more. Let’s hear what he had to say . . .

StraighterLine: What is your favorite thing about StraighterLine?

Nino A. Diaz: My favorite thing about StraighterLine is the flexibility I have to work at my own pace. I was not obligated to deadlines, which allowed me to study at my own pace, including the completion of exams. This works perfectly with my busy schedule, between my full-time job and family commitments. In addition, the price per course allowed me to avoid an incredible amount of student loan debt.

SL: What courses have you taken? Which of them have been your favorites, and why?

ND: I have completed Medical Terminology, Western Civilization, Psychology, Personal Finance, and Introduction to Nutrition at StraighterLine. Although each course was very interesting, my favorite would have to be Western Civilization. It was fascinating to learn about different cultures and the history behind them.

SL: Tell us about your interaction with student advisors.

ND: The student advisors were fantastic! They were all supportive in making sure I had the tools I needed to succeed. Each interaction solidified this intent. They were easy to speak to, with no sales pressure. StraighterLine also provides several options to contact an advisor. As a working adult, I sometimes find it difficult to find time out of my day to make a telephone call to seek support. Email and live chat enabled me to receive answers to my questions in a convenient and prompt way.

SL: How are you transferring courses taken at StraighterLine, and what are you going to do with them? What is your degree goal?

ND: I transferred my course credits to your partner college, Colorado State University.The transfer process was seamless. The course credits allowed me to satisfy a large portion of elective credit and placed me in a position to graduate with my B.S. in Organizational Leadership in this coming month. Ultimately, my degree goal is complete my M.S. in Organizational Leadership. I plan to enroll in courses during the summer of 2013!

SL: Would you recommend StraighterLine to others?

ND: I have recommended StraighterLine to fellow associates and classmates. It is as simple as going to the website and completing a few steps to get enrolled and getting to work on your classes!

SL: Why did you choose StraighterLine?

ND: StraighterLine was first suggested to me by my academic counselor at my partner college. I was frustrated with the limited rate I could work at in courses at that college. Since I was so close to graduating, he suggested I research StraighterLine before I decided to take a term off.

Success Profile: Jennifer Semien

You might have seen Jennifer Semien’s profile in O magazine, or watched the inspiring video about her on the website. Jennifer is a woman who has reached her goals of becoming both a successful leader and an inspiring mother to three beautiful little girls. How did she do it? She credits online learning.

Jennifer’s early education got off to a strong start. She began at a regular college and earned an undergraduate degree in Biological Engineering. She then became the mother of three children. Even though she was terribly busy with daycare and mothering, a little voice inside her kept calling her to go back to school to pursue a lifelong calling she had always felt.

“When I was very little,” Jennifer explains, “we would sit on my family’s porch and we would actually play school. That was what we did for fun! So a love of education has always been there for me, that desire to teach and help others reach their dreams.”

Yet before she could reach that goal, “I had the need for the degree,” she states. Because she was a parent, and later a single parent, she found it difficult to fit classes around parenting and working. So she began to investigate online universities. After some research, she enrolled at Capella University.

Jennifer got up to speed quickly at Capella, even though the courses were challenging. Working entirely online, she earned first a master’s degree in education with a specialty in training and performance improvement, and then an MBA in human resource management. She describes her education progress as being like a bullet train. “I can’t stop!” she laughs.

A lot of that momentum comes from trying to be the best possible example to her daughters. “If I want them to be good citizens – and I do! – I will be a good example,” Jennifer explains. “I want to show them that education is the vehicle to a better future.”

Today, Jennifer is working as a Aaron's University Training Coordinator for Aaron’s, one of America’s most innovative and progressive retailers. Because she helps employees enroll in educational programs – some at her alma mater Capella - her job is a perfect match for her dreams. “We want to be a top employer,” she states, “and that means making the most of our human capital.”

Jennifer also counsels some employees to check out courses at StraighterLine. “StraighterLine is awesome,” she states. “It’s a no-fuss way of getting educated, of just getting on to the next thing and getting it done.”

After we spoke with Jennifer, we felt motivated to work harder to reach our own educational goals. We felt inspired. Now that you have read about her, we bet you feel the same way too.

StraighterLine Success Story: Frances Smith

StraighterLine student Frances Smith is a woman who doesn’t let obstacles stand between her and her educational goals.Back in April, 2009, Frances still had some courses to complete before she could earn her A.S. degree. So she turned to StraighterLine, completed both College Algebra and English Composition I within just one month, and then transferred the credits. “I went to my local community college and completed my A.S. in the spring of 2010,” she explains. She also took CLEP Exams to earn and apply an additional 30 credit hours.Yes, Frances Smith is a resourceful person. Her resourcefulness was tested again when she was confronted with some serious medical problems – including the need for open-heart surgery. But instead of giving up the idea of completing her bachelor’s degree, she got right back on her feet and is now enrolled in Thomas Edison State College, hoping to graduate soon.

She could not have made all that progress without taking courses online at StraighterLine. Here’s how she describes her experience . . .

“I was very pleased with how smooth the course assignments were. Easy explanation, carefully worded assignments and straightforward submittals for evaluation to Smarthinking. Taking the few comments provided by Smarthinking, I was able to easily redraft my essays and submit them for a final grade. The whole course went smooth as pie."

“Business Communications was interesting, quick and well worth the time, as it transferred as an upper-level course to my selected school, Thomas Edison State College. Finally, I took Western Civilization I and found it a very comprehensive and educational course. I have requested a transcript to be sent to Thomas Edison and am sure that within a month, these three courses will be credited to my Thomas Edison State College evaluation.”

And now it’s a family affair . . .

Jeff Smith, Frances’s son, has now jumped on board and is taking courses at StraighterLine too. Jeff has enrolled in Western Civilization I, Business Communications, and Introduction to Sociology. So the Smith family is now a StraighterLine family too.

“I found all five of my courses well organized, efficient and direct.” Frances states. "Personally, if either Jeff or I had a question regarding our courses, we were quickly and efficiently aided by our course advisors, Jessica and Christine. I couldn't say enough for the courtesy and efficiency of your course advisors or the convenience of taking StraighterLine courses. I can testify that after having attended many `sit-in-your-seat classes,’ StraighterLine courses equal or are even better than many courses I had taken in the traditional manner.”

Thank you, Frances Smith, for sharing your StraighterLine story. We send our best wishes for your continued educational progress and success.

StraighterLine Student Profile: Burlyce Logan

StraighterLine student Burlyce Logan is many things. She is a committed student, and an even more committed wife. She is a senior citizen. She is not a quitter. And another thing. Burlyce Logan is inspiring.

A little more than a year ago, she had only one college course to complete – Algebra – before she could earn her bachelor’s degree from The University of North Texas in Denton. But then some challenges arose. Her husband became ill and needed a series of operations. Burlyce was called to help arrange his medical treatment, and to care for him.

Burlyce thought that she would have to set aside her plans to complete her college degree. How could she spend time in a classroom until her husband recovered? But then some other students at The University of North Texas told her about StraighterLine. Burlyce went online to investigate, and enrolled in StraighterLine’s College Algebra course, which she has now completed.

“The course was perfect,” Burlyce says. “Because of my husband’s health problems, I had to do it at my own pace, and everything worked perfectly.”

She has applied to have her credits transferred to the University of North Texas and after the process is completed, she will have completed all the courses she needs to earn her college degree. “And I am planning to take more courses,” she says.

“I am very grateful that StraighterLine was there to help,” she says.

“This course proved to be a perfect vehicle for me,” Burlyce says. “It’s a new day in American education and people should realize it . . . both the young and the old.”

StraighterLine Success Story: John Walsh

John Walsh, 2009 Bachelor’s in Business Graduate, Praises StraighterLine for Making His Degree PossibleJohn Walsh, an independent investor who lives in upstate New York, was an academic achiever long before he earned college credits at StraighterLine, transferred them to the college he was attending, and earned a degree in 2009.“I had already earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree,” John explains, “and I am certified to teach in NY State in five subject areas. I had accumulated a large number of business credits, but had not completed a degree in the field, although I was certified to teach business. Therefore, I decided to complete a second bachelor’s degree in business.”

“It was during that time that I found StraighterLine. Toward the end of my program, I had to complete a course called College Algebra. I had a high GPA and had completed almost all of the program requirements, but had difficulty completing the math course, as I have difficulty with advanced Math, as often is the case with liberal arts graduates. I needed to pass College Algebra in order to get my second business degree, but since I had never been a good math student, I was really at a standstill. Over the course of about four years, I had taken College Algebra classes at two colleges and took the CLEP exams at least four times to try to complete the requirement. That’s when I discovered StraighterLine on the Internet.”

John points out that StraighterLIne’s Online College Algebra course was no less difficult than what he had been studying, and that the course material was the same. But he succeeded at StraighterLine because the lessons were straightforward and the practice problems reflected what was being taught.

“I found that I could follow the steps while doing the problems very well,” John explains. “And as a result, I was able to receive passing grades on the quizzes at the end of each lesson.”

How was StraighterLine’s online college course different from the others that John had taken?

“Those like me who aren’t great at math have a difficult time making what I call a ‘leap of knowledge,’” John explains. “In math courses, I find that professors often teach a concept but then add to or change the concept when it comes time for the test. Most students, unless they are fairly adept at math, cannot apply the variations to problems asked on tests or arrive at the right answer. At StraighterLine, the teacher did not play games like that, but rather taught the concept and later asked students to demonstrate their knowledge of it on the test, without altering the problems. It was a matter of learning the material and being able to do the problem, as math should be taught.

“For example, in a typical Math course, a student might learn, say, 3 + 5= 8. But then on the test, a professor would ask, `What is the square root of 9 + 5?’ Later when correcting the test, the professor would say, `Well, you can infer the square root and then the problem is easy!’ But nothing in the study material ever mentioned square roots. The teacher would then say, `Well you should be able to figure that out from your knowledge of math.’ Those are the games that math teachers play with students, and they make it very difficult for students all over the country to learn. The StraighterLine course did not do that, and there were no surprises. As a result, I was able to pass the course in about six weeks - after trying for four years. Thank you, StraighterLine!

Today, John is a champion of StraighterLine.

“When I meet students, I encourage them to consider using the program for college courses they need toward their degree requirements and to save money on tuition,” John says. “Some of them, I find, are in colleges that are charging them $2,500 or more to earn three college credits. When I tell them that I earned the same three credits for about $25 per credit, they are suspicious. They say, `I’ll just keep doing what I am doing.’ It all sounds too good to be true. For this reason and for my gratitude to StraighterLine, I am personally reaching out to students and parents of college students to make them aware of the StraighterLine program so that they can save thousands of dollars and attain the college credits they need to graduate. StraighterLine is providing an invaluable service, especially with the high cost of college. It is not necessary today to spend thousands of dollars on a single course.”

John is hoping to answer questions and further direct students and parents to the StraighterLine program and will soon be available to hold discussion groups about the program at colleges, community centers, religious organizations and fraternal societies.

StraighterLine Success Story: Elizabeth Smith

Elizabeth Smith earned 3 credits in college algebra from Charter Oak State College in just 10 days thanks to StraighterLine. Total cost? $138. She stands for everything that is possible when you accelerate through a self-paced course. She saved time and money with StraighterLine’s help, and so can you by enrolling now.

“I was referred to StraighterLine by my advisor at Charter Oak State College… And I had a few small classes that needed to be tied up,” said 42-year-old Smith. “I immediately emailed StraighterLine and within the day I was already signed up for my algebra class. I had an advisor right away, I had full access to tutoring, and I knew I could do it at my own time frame. For me I needed to get it done in less than 10 days. I needed to take a 3 college credit course in a week essentially. And I was able to do it with StraighterLine.”

Not only is Smith a quick study, she’s an example of finding creative ways to balance her life as a mother with getting her college degree. Watch her tell her story in this video:

Smith was featured in a book, The Edupunks Guide to a DIY Credential, for her speedy achievement, “Elizabeth got down to business with the StraighterLine college algebra course the first week of summer vacation. Every day she took the kids to the pool and sat next to it with her laptop. ‘The first week of summer vacation was a 40 hour math week. It was great—I had private tutor, I had videos, and it was all self-paced.’ ” The book’s author, Anya Kamentz, praised StraighterLine for being an “on ramp” to college..

“I felt like this prepared me. The drills were setup where I had to reiterate basic skills. The text was really easy to follow. And it was setup for all styles of learning. If I was a purely visual learner, I would have been fine with the material. If I was a kinetic learner the video clips provided for that. And if I was an auditory learner, everything was focused as well. So I got to see it, hear it, do it, experience it, on every single level,” Smith added.

When you need to get credit for a course in a short period of time, you have a limited number of options. If you know the material, then CBEs (credit-by-examination) like CLEP tests or DSST/Dantes exams are two options. But if you don’t know the material and have a tight time frame, self-paced online courses like the one Elizabeth took from StraighterLine are a smarter option than a CLEP Test.

First of all, with a CBE like a CLEP, once you take the test, if you don’t do well you can’t take it again for 6 months. That may not fit your schedule. Plus, with StraighterLine, you get 24/7/365 access to online tutors, and student advisors to help you with credit transfer and your transcript. “It was great customer service. It made me feel like what I had purchased had a great deal of value and that StraighterLine wanted me to be successful,” Smith explained.

Smith said she would recommend StraighterLine for all sorts of students, those in high school looking for dual enrollment credits, adult learners, and even traditional students.