by Burck Smith
I founded StraighterLine just over a decade ago with the belief that the cost of a college education could be dramatically reduced. We believed the ability to deliver courses online should reduce the cost of those courses and that the flexibility of the internet could be a boon to student success.
However, we never imagined a world where the sudden mass displacement of students (and workers) would make the work we do so incredibly relevant. Over the past 12 months more than 35,000 students have taken a course from StraighterLine. The vast majority of our students are working full time while they are pursuing a degree. About half our students are married and a significant percentage are juggling the demands of parenthood while taking courses. These are exactly the students StraighterLine was built for.
Once viewed as an alternative course provider, we now have over 150 direct transfer and referral partnerships and our courses have been accepted for credit at more than 2,000 colleges and universities. Our new Academy platform helps colleges create their own private labeled readiness and retention programs; and these programs are already impacting the lives of thousands of students. Our partnership with Bright Horizons EdAssist Solutions offers pathways to an affordable education giving more employees an achievable path to a degree.
Today, we enter the next chapter of our journey to make college affordable for all learners with a significant investment from the team at BV Investment Partners. Their commitment to StraighterLine reflects a validation of our work, which will allow us to expand our offerings to students and university and employer partners. It's about translating the promise of higher education into a format and pricing model that works for the new majority of students whose lives and aspirations look very different from that of students in decades past. Of course, this investment comes at an unprecedented moment where the realities of a pandemic are challenging learners to chart new pathways to–and through–higher education.
It is challenging employers to make good on their commitment to employees who will need to re- and up-skill to remain relevant, and employed. It is challenging institutions to make good on their promises of equity and affordability to help learners access the courses they need to complete–and thrive. Yesterday, along with the American Council on Education’s Louis Soares, I made the case that innovation can allow higher education to play a leading role in our economic recovery. To be sure, our mission has never been more important. We are humbled by the opportunity to build on an investment that will allow us to play a role in making higher education affordable.