By Burck Smith, StraighterLine Founder/CEO
With the American economy in a full-fledged recovery, earning a bachelor’s or associate degree is a great way to increase employability and lifetime earnings. Today, unemployment is virtually non-existent for those with degrees; more job postings than ever list a degree as a requirement; and bachelor’s degree holders make 62% more than those with only a high school degree
The Return on Investment (ROI) to completing a degree is high. However, the ROI to starting a degree is much, much lower. Why? Because barely half of all students that start a degree finish one. With college tuition and student debt skyrocketing, starting – but not completing – a degree can be a life-changing mistake.
Smart Students Create Risk Management Strategies For Starting Their College Degree
Deciding to go back to college is a lot like deciding to join a health club on New Year’s Day. Optimism and good intentions drive the decision to enroll, but the reality of day-to-day life often undermines the best intentions. If a health club behaved like a college, the club would be expensive, require long-term contracts, impose unforeseen fees, announce unpredictable year-to-year price increases and offer debt-financing that could not be discharged even if you stopped attending.
In short, starting down the path toward a degree is a high risk, high reward proposition for students. So, smart students develop strategies to reduce their risk.
Reduce Risk By Completing College Courses Before Enrolling
The best risk reduction strategy is to earn college credits by doing college-level coursework before enrolling in your degree program. As the online learning market has grown, StraighterLine and others have created low-priced, credit-bearing online college courses that can be taken before college enrollment.
By taking courses in advance of enrollment, a student is better able to experience the time requirements necessary to complete a degree and gauge their motivation to continue. Indeed, over 90% of StraighterLine students that transfer credits from StraighterLine to a college persist to a degree. In other words, students that transfer from StraighterLine are almost twice as likely to complete a degree than those that don’t.
Further, StraighterLine’s free-trial and subscription pricing are deliberately built to reduce a student’s risk. A student can start by taking the first two lessons of most courses for free. If a student wants to go further, StraighterLine charges $99 per month plus a per-course fee. If a student decides after the first month that they are not ready, they are only out that month’s fee. If a student stopped after the first month at a college, they would be on the hook for the entire semester’s price.
Save Even More Money on Future Tuition
And, as icing on the cake, students that prove early success save even more money on future tuition. Successful students can apply college credits earned from StraighterLine to their degree program and earn tuition discounts at willing colleges through StraighterLine’s Scholarship program– saving up to 60% on the cost of their degree.
To extend the health club analogy, those that make good on their New Year’s resolution to go the gym and stay in shape save money on future healthcare expenses. StraighterLine students that successfully complete courses save money on future education expenses. With StraighterLine, starting college can be a low-risk, high reward proposition.
Burck Smith (@burck) is the CEO and founder of StraighterLine.