March 2011

  • Confident Thoughts for College Acceptance Week

    Barry Lenson

    Confident Thoughts for College Acceptance Week All over America this week, students are waiting to get acceptance letters from colleges. If you’re one of them, I know about how you feel – you feel like you can finally see the finish line after running a marathon.  Over the last four years, you’ve worked to keep your grades up, taken part in summer programs, done community service work, studied for standardized tests, taken AP courses, engaged in high school athletics, visited colleges, applied for financial aid, worked on applications and application essays – and I am sure that I have left some important things out. I have felt the tension of this week, both as a college applicant and as a parent. And so even though you are pro ...

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  • Online Learning: The Tool that's Missing from the Government's College Completion Toolkit

    Barry Lenson

    Online Learning: The Tool that's Missing from the Government's College Completion Toolkit On Tuesday, March 22, Vice President Joe Biden announced a new $20 million initiative to increase the number of Americans who hold college degrees. You can read about the new program in The College Completion Toolkit, a booklet that is available as a free PDF download.  StraighterLine supports this initiative. Even though, as we discussed in an earlier post on this blog, we believe that the program should place more emphasis on the role that online education can play to increase the number of American college graduates.  Specifically, here are some ways that StraighterLine can help the College Completion Toolkit program reach its goals in the ...

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  • SAT Becomes the Edsel of Standardized Tests

    Barry Lenson

    SAT Becomes the Edsel of Standardized Tests During the last few weeks, tempers have been flaring because a recent SAT asked a question about reality television programs. To be more accurate, the SAT included a prompt that required students to write an essay about reality television programs. (Essay prompts are topics that students must address when writing the essay that is part of the SAT’s Writing section.) Here’s the prompt that has caused the uproar. You be the judge: Reality television programs, which feature real people engaged in real activities rather than professional actors performing scripted scenes, are increasingly popular. These shows depict ordinary people competing in everything from singing and dancing to losing ...

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  • Busted Myth of the Week: All Online Courses are Completely Flexible

    Barry Lenson

    Busted Myth of the Week: All Online Courses are Completely Flexible You probably assume that all online courses are completely flexible, right? Maybe you think that you can come and go from your virtual classroom whenever you like . . . You can shut off your computer when you leave for vacation, turn it on when you return, and pick right up where you left off. If you’re in the military and you’re in a combat situation for a few weeks, you can resume your online course with no problem. If your family is moving, you can unplug your computer, plug it in again in your new home, and your course resumes. The problem is, not all online college courses work that way.  The courses at StraighterLine do – they’re completely flexi ...

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  • Selling College Courses at Near Cost

    Barry Lenson

    Selling College Courses at Near Cost In an article published this week on the website of The John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, our CEO Burke Smith asks a provocative question that I will summarize this way . . . What if colleges sold courses for close to what they actually cost to produce? To quote from the article: “Colleges only spend about $100 in direct instructional costs to deliver the most popular college courses like those taught in the first year of college. Yet they are able to generate between $1,000 and $2,000 in revenue from such a course. This revenue comes in the form of state support, tuition, and fees. The `margin’ (the difference between the actual cost and the revenue) goes to support the rem ...

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