National Online Learning Day is celebrated annually on September 15 to highlight students of all ages that are learning online and bring awareness to the benefits of online education.
BALTIMORE, MD. (September 15, 2021) – When Burck Smith founded StraighterLine in 2008 he had one goal – to create an innovative online educational platform that would help solve the No. 1 issue facing students today – the skyrocketing cost of college. StraighterLine was the first non-college or university to offer online courses for college credit and now more than 100,000 students have saved time and money taking a StraighterLine course.
Long before massive open online courses (MOOCs) began to take shape in 2011, StraighterLine began offering online courses that transferred credit to colleges. Once thought controversial, online courses have now become standard. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were over 7 million students taking distance education or online courses at higher education institutions in fall 2019. With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number is rising at a dramatic rate. In the last 12 months, over 40,000 students have enrolled in a StraighterLine course.
“In today’s challenging economy, students need more affordable, flexible options to earn their degree and advance their career,” said Burck Smith, CEO and founder of StraighterLine. “It is crucial that every student has access to quality online education no matter their socio-economic situation.”
StraighterLine’s unique subscription model helps students go back to school and complete a degree at their own pace. Students pay a low $99 per month subscription fee and may purchase as few or as many general education courses as they choose. StraighterLine offers a comprehensive catalog of more than 60 general education courses, most of which are priced at only $59, including the e-textbook.
“Every week we hear from students that have saved thousands of dollars on their degree by taking StraighterLine courses,” said Smith. “Though our subscription model can’t be directly compared to a typical college tuition, the average cost of a credit hour ends up being about $50 including textbooks, transcripts and any other fees. That’s an incredible savings.”
Kara Loehrer of Lodi, California, took 17 StraighterLine courses towards earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Thomas Edison State University in June 2021.
“StraighterLine was the largest contributor of credits in my degree plan,” said Loehrer. “I am really grateful I was able to get 50 total credits for less than $1200, including the subscription. I still have my degree plan and cost spreadsheet to look back on. It’s unheard of how affordable these options are.”
When a major life event occurs that causes a student to struggle, they run the risk of failing a class or stopping out. StraighterLine takes that risk away by allowing a student to pause their subscription and pick up their class later with no penalty. Students also don’t need to worry about a failing grade on their transcript as StraighterLine only transfers courses with passing grades to their college of choice.
“Adult learners need flexibility. Life happens, people get married, have kids, or need to take medical leave,” said Smith. “The great thing about StraighterLine is that students can complete their courses on a timeline that’s convenient for them.”
Lauran Hundshamer of Burnsville, Minnesota, took 9 courses towards earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
“I credit StraighterLine with allowing me to complete 27 credits for less than $1000. It saved me months of coursework towards earning my degree, said Hundshamer. “StraighterLine is perfect for working adults who want to save time and money, while still providing a rigorous education.”
Higher education admissions teams are also taking notice, as 64% of StraighterLine students are referred by their college or university. StraighterLine has articulation agreements with nearly 150 accredited partner colleges and its courses are accepted for credit at more than 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide.
Smith began envisioning a transformation in higher education in 1999 when he first started SMARTHINKING, the most respected online tutoring service in education, now owned by Pearson.
“To see the trajectory of online education from where it started to where we are today is amazing, and yet there is still much opportunity for growth,” said Smith. “I look forward to seeing where online learning takes us over the next decade.”
StraighterLine is a student success company and the category creator for providing scalable solutions to deliver affordable, effective and accelerated learning pathways to formal degree programs and widely recognized industry credentials. The StraighterLine platform supports over 40,000 new students a year, including directly through the straighterline.com website as well as through the company’s growing network of university and employer relationships.
Director of Brand and Public Relations