Over the last few months, we've been covering the crisis in California's system of higher education. At community colleges, students have been shut out of classes. At the Cal State Universities, students have been unable to get into oversubscribed classes - sometimes, classes that they need to graduate. It's all due to a larger budgetary crisis in California. Students and graduation rates have suffered. California students have come to StraighterLine to take the courses that they need and then transfer their credits to their schools.
We've been proud to offer a solution. But now, there's more news.
“California Bill Seeks Campus Credit for Online Study,” an article by Tamar Lewin in The New York Times today, March 13th, reports some news that could be very important for California students and for online education too.
Lewin writes, “Legislation will be introduced in the California Senate on Wednesday that could reshape higher education by requiring the state’s public colleges and universities to give credit for faculty-approved online courses taken by students unable to register for oversubscribed classes on campus.”
The article quotes Burck Smith, StraighterLine’s founder and CEO, who told Lewin, “This would be a big change, acknowledging that colleges aren’t the only ones who can offer college courses . . . It means rethinking what a college is.”
When you read the words “Rethinking what college is,” you realize that some very big changes are in the offing for California and for American higher education too. If the bill passes, here are some of the changes to look for in California . . .
- If courses are full or unavailable at California’s state schools and community colleges, waitlisted students can opt to take online courses instead for college credit. (If courses are available at state schools, those colleges could require students to take them instead of online courses.)
- California colleges will have the option to approve or disapprove courses that would grant students credit at their institutions.
- Accepting online courses would help students at California’s 112 community colleges and the 23 California State Universities complete college and earn their degrees on time. The article states that only 16 percent of students in the California State University system now finish college in four years. Awarding credit for online courses could help turn that situation around.
- Colleges and universities in California could be spurred to make more of their current courses available in online format. When those courses are offered alongside the courses offered by StraighterLine, the result could be an explosion in the number of online course options that are available to students.
Big Changes Ahead . . .
We’ll be watching to see whether this legislation will pass in California. It should, given the fact that it addresses a pressing need. There’s also the fact that California Governor Jerry Brown has often said that he believes in online education.
If those changes happen in California, we’re willing to assume that other states will follow suit and offer more students the chance to fulfill course requirements and earn credit by studying online.
As Burck Smith states in the article, “It means rethinking what a college is.” No doubt about it. Big changes are coming for American students and American higher education.
Is Your Community College in Crisis? Why Not Turn to Online Learning Instead?
Community Colleges in Crisis: Did You Know there’s a Crisis in California?
California Community Colleges Borrow Against Tomorrow
California Community Colleges in Deep Trouble, New Statistics Show
California Begins to Look Online to Solve Their Problems