The Washington Post Praises StraighterLine in New Editorial

Barry Lenson

The Washington Post Praises StraighterLine in New Editorial

The Washington Post Praises StraighterLine in New Editorial“Obama’s disappointing college plan,” a recent editorial written by Matt Miller for The Washington Post, praises StraighterLine’s unique potential to help American students bring college costs under control.

“Straighterline offers the general and introductory courses that account for up to a third of enrollment nationwide,” Miller notes, “subjects such as college algebra, English composition, microeconomics, psychology 101, accounting 101, and U.S. history. The 4,500 students it will serve this year then transfer the credits elsewhere.”

Miller also quotes StraighterLine’s founder, Burke Smith . . . .

“Our prices are low because we don’t try to subsidize the rest of a college experience with general education, and we don’t burden our courses with the overhead of a campus.”

Miller and Smith are saying that colleges are charging students for a wide variety of “extras” that have little to do with learning. If you visit a college campus near you, you will find that these costly features – which have very little to do with the courses that are offered – are very much in evidence. Here are some you will probably see with your own eyes . . .

  • Large expanses of land, lawns and parking lots that need landscaping and maintenance.
  • Brand new buildings under construction – dorms, student centers, performing arts centers, gyms – that are nice and attract new students, but which are not central to the learning process. You will probably also see that older buildings are being renovated and updated at considerable cost.
  • Expensive infrastructure – outdoor lighting, heating systems for buildings – that are costly in the extreme.
  • Large staffs of college employees working in admissions offices, registrars’ offices, and technology centers.

And if you visit those admissions offices, you will see piles of brochures, alumni magazines, catalogs and other publications that are used to recruit new students and keep alumni happy. They are all costly, and the expense of producing them is largely passed on to students.

All those extras may be nice, and they may improve the experience of the students who attend those schools. Yet the fact remains that if all you really want to do is enjoy a quality learning experience and graduate from college, you may not need them. This is the changing face of American higher education.

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