Straight Talk: May 11, 2011
Edited by Jeffrey Lee Simons
In this issue…
- StraighterLine Reports: College Counselors on “Getting Into College”
- Best of The StraighterLine Blog
- Online Education in The News
- New: Anatomy & Physiology I and 7 other StraighterLine Courses
- Burck’s Blast: "Flat-Fees punish students and cost taxpayers money"
Is it more difficult to get into college these days? Are admissions standards consistent? And what about non-traditional options like online learning? StraighterLine Reports’ Evan Jones interviewed a panel that included college counselors and a college coach to find out their answers to these divisive questions. We were surprised by what some of them had to say, and we think you will be too. Read “College Admissions: Easier or Harder? Or Is That the Wrong Question? Part 1 of a 3 Part Series”
Summer is almost here… and that means many of you will be graduating from High School soon. Summertime can be a very useful time, whether you’re graduating or not. So for Best of the Blog this week, we present three of Barry Lenson’s previous posts about how to get the most out of the next few months of your life.
Top College Success Books for Summer Reading
This summer, you can read the latest vampire novel or you can sink your teeth into a few books that could help you succeed in college. Check out Barry Lensons’s recommendations for summer reading from “How to Win at College” to “What Smart Students Know: Maximum Grads. Optimum Learning. Minimum Time.” Read Full Post
Five Reasons Why High School Graduation Should Not Be the Last Stop in Your Education
If you’re a high school student, May is a time for proms, parties and graduations. It’s also time to think long and hard about what’s in store for you. Here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t wait until September to get things moving. Read Full Post
The Summer and Online Study… Perfect Together
What have you got lined up this summer? A summer job? Travel? Whatever your plans, here are 4 reasons why you should consider also taking college courses online this summer. Read Full Post
Education by Disruption: Salman Kahn’s YouTube Revolution
Wired.com, Epicenter, Arikia Millikan, 5/3/11
According to Wired, The Kahn Academy has started an education revolution that’s now reaching 2 Million students and teachers a month. As educational disruptors ourselves, we’ve been watching the growth of The Kahn Academy for years. If you don’t know about them, this article from Wired.com is a great place to start. Read Full Article
(Be sure to check out The Kahn Academy’s free, 10-minute videos on subjects ranging from college algebra and quadratic equations and cosecants to molecular biology and the French Revolution. They’re a great supplement to your StraighterLine courses.)
Peter Thiel May Have Missed the Point of the Higher Education Bubble: We Should Encourage Decreased Costs, Not College Drop Outs
The Huffington Post, Shai Resef, 5/2/11
Recently PayPal Co-Founder Peter Thiel’s asserted that “the next bubble is higher education because ‘a true bubble is when something is overvalued and intensely believed,’” In this article, The Huffington Post agrees that college is extremely expensive, but that “Peter Thiel should not encourage drop outs, but instead to challenge the cost of higher education to decrease…It is both apparent and proven today that the cost of higher education can be reduced with the incorporation of online courses which utilize open educational resources and open-source technology.” Read Full Article
Texas Could Offer a Stripped-Down Degree for Just $10,000, Commissioner Says
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Katherine Mangan, 4/27/11
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Texas Governor Rick Perry has called for Texas Universities to develop a $10,000, 4-year BA program. The program “could involve statewide online courses, more opportunities for students to spend their first two years in community colleges, and accelerated and self-paced course formats.”
According to Raymund A. Paredes, the commissioner of higher education, “Almost 50 percent of the students coming through the pipeline are low-income," he said, "and the current pattern of spiraling costs is going to make higher education inaccessible to them.” While the $10,000 ceiling may be ambitious, "I hope we've established that this isn't a crazy idea," he added during a break in the meeting. (Editor’s Note: $10,000 is ambitious? Then what would they think of StraighterLine’s online, self-paced Freshman Year for $999?) Read Full Article
Have you checked out our newest courses reviewed and recommended for credit by the American Council on Education's (ACE) Credit Recommendation Service? Click the subjects below for more information or to get started:
- Anatomy & Physiology I
- Anatomy & Physiology I with lab
- Anatomy & Physiology II
- Anatomy & Physiology II with lab
- Calculus II
- Managerial Accounting
- Medical Terminology
Opinion from StraighterLine's founder, Burck Smith
Excerpt from “College by Subscription”, Burck Smith, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, No. 9, 9/09
Flat-Fee versus Subscription Pricing
In a typical college class, an instructor is assigned a cohort of students and a fixed time frame for the course. That cohort is usually fifteen to forty students, and the duration varies depending on how many credits the course is worth and the format of the course. In this instructional model, a college must estimate the number of students it will have at the start of the course, assume that these students will stay in the course for the entire semester, assume that no more students will be added, and hire the appropriate number of faculty to teach the course. Because the college must commit to faculty members and facility usage for an entire term, students must pay the full tuition regardless of whether they pass, fail, or drop out. This flat-fee tuition model makes sense given developmental education courses’ current cost structure.
In the current staffing model for developmental courses, a student who decides in the first month that the course is too hard or too time-consuming or that he is not ready must pay the same amount as a student who succeeds. The student who drops out must pay the same amount even if he stops coming to class, using the school’s facilities, and using the instructor’s time. Conversely, a student who is able to move more quickly and who would consume less facility and instructor resources is forced to progress according to the predetermined format of the course. Because of the fixed costs inherent in such a model, both the students who drop the course and those who excel are “punished.” Those who excel and those who drop out must pay the full fee despite using very little of the instructor’s time and the college’s facilities.
What if a student and state could pay for developmental courses on a monthly subscription basis? A subscription model provides an incentive to succeed quickly and limits the cost for those who fail. If such a model could keep outcomes constant or even improve them, a subscription pricing model could reduce taxpayer expenses, student loan burdens, and college infrastructure use and might even encourage failing students to return later to the postsecondary system. Furthermore, savings could be reinvested in support services that help with nonacademic barriers to student success.