Author: Burck Smith

  • What are “Quality” Online Courses?

    What are “Quality” Online Courses?
    Burck Smith

    Since 2008, StraighterLine has noted that online courses – because they require none of the expensive infrastructure of face-to-face courses – should be much, much cheaper than a college’s face-to-face courses. The growth of equivalent, but cheaper and unsubsidized, providers of online courses creates a problem for state and local policymakers. Want to try an online class? Take two free lessons on us today! Equivalent But Cheaper If equivalent but cheaper courses exist, but taxpayer money can only be used for expensive accredited providers, then taxpayer funds are being spent poorly. Slowly, policymakers are trying to address this. Last week the Department of Education announced that it was looking into ways in which alternative ...

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  • Online College Credit and the Age of Price Competition

    Online College Credit and the Age of Price Competition
    Burck Smith

    Though online learning has been around since the mid-90’s, it wasn’t until the early part of the ‘00’s that it began to take off. Enrollments in online courses at accredited colleges have grown steadily such that, today, about 1/3 of all college students – about 6 million -- are taking at least one online course. Though online course delivery has become commonplace, the growth rate of students enrolling in online courses at accredited colleges has stagnated. (Source: Strong Demand for Low-Cost Online Learning One might argue that online education has reached a saturation point – that all the remaining students don’t want or need online course ...

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  • The Cost (Not Price) of an Online College Course

    The Cost (Not Price) of an Online College Course
    Burck Smith

    Maybe you want to get a college degree, but want to first take a few online courses to better judge your motivation. Or, maybe you need to take some prerequisite courses prior to graduate school. Or, maybe you just want to save some money on your degree. Whatever the reason, if you are searching for online college courses, you are almost certainly seeing a huge variance in prices. For instance, a three-credit course at Arizona State University Online is about $1500. The same course at a community college is, on average, about $330 for in-state students or $700 for out-of-state students. StraighterLine offers most courses for $59 each on top of a $99 per month membership fee (courses end up being about $150 per course on average). W ...

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  • Accrediting the Unaccredited

    Accrediting the Unaccredited
    Burck Smith

    What is a college? The typical image of a college comes with buildings, classrooms, parking lots, sports teams and sometimes ivory towers. However, none of this can be provided online. So, what is a college online? Really, nothing separates a college from a non-college when delivering online courses. The only distinction is that students taking online courses from “colleges,” as defined by the federal Department of Education, are eligible for cheap loans and Pell grants. Yet, over 90% of colleges charge the same OR MORE for online courses than for face-to-face courses – despite the fact that the cost of delivery is far less. Want to see how it works? Take two free lessons on us today! Financial Aid Only for Most Expensive Onli ...

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  • Starting a College Degree is a Risky Business

    Starting a College Degree is a Risky Business
    Burck Smith

    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 ...

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