Think Online College is Easy? Maybe You Better Think Again

Barry Lenson

Think Online College is Easy? Maybe You Better Think Again

Are online college courses easy?“The Least Rigorous Colleges,” a recent post on The Huffington Post, presents a list of colleges and universities that are top picks for students who don’t want to work too hard. The list is surprising because it contains some pretty well-established schools with strong reputations – places like SUNY Binghamton, The University of Wisconsin Madison, and even Northeastern University.

Those ratings contrast strongly with the scores earned by StraighterLine in a recent survey, in which 79% of our students responded that StraighterLine courses are just as rigorous, or more rigorous, than college courses taught elsewhere.

As Burlyce Logan, a student who took a college Algebra course at StraighterLine recently told us, “I had to do it at my own pace, yes, but it was challenging. As a course, everything was perfect.”

John Walsh, who also took a StraighterLine math course to complete his degree requirements, echoes that sentiment. “At StraighterLine,” he says, “the teacher did not play games . . . 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.”

The fact that StraighterLine courses are challenging shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you’ve taken one, you already know that the experience can be demanding. If you had an assignment due, there was no flying under the radar – and you knew that once you turned it in, it was going to be closely evaluated. If you had a question or concern, a tutor was there to guide you. That experience stands in stark contrast to what many students report at “brick and mortar” colleges, especially in courses that are taught in large lectures with smaller break-out sections taught by teaching assistants.

If you’ve spent any time on a campus, you also know how students can work the system to find college courses that are not challenging, or those with instructors who give the highest grades. Word about those courses spreads quickly through dorms and dining halls. As one college junior recently explained it to me, “After two years of seeing my GPA slip because I was a purist who wanted to prove myself in hard courses, I am now making sure to take at least one course a semester where the prof is known to be an easy grader.”

So is online study an easy way to earn a college degree? Decidedly not. And more students are waking up the fact that if they want to be challenged with a quality learning experience, the place to go is StraighterLine.

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