StraighterLine Reviews - Is it Legit?

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dhandlos posted this 06 January 2012 - Last edited 24 February 2016

Hello everyone, I'm often asked by friends and co-workers about the different options there are available for online learning, and I try to give the best advice I can. This past week I got a question about "StraigherLine" an online service that provides a number of courses to students for a (relatively) small fee. This isn't a degree-granting institution by itself, but students who pass their courses can then transfer their credits to a regionally accredited university (ex. Thomas Edison State College, Western Governors University, Fort Hays State University, etc.). After doing some research, it seems pretty straightforward, and a low-cost way for many students to get a jump on their education. Has anyone taken courses through this service? Pros/Cons, anyone?

3 Comments
VickyPhillips posted this 10 January 2012 - Last edited 21 October 2015

Hi David,

I have to give this enterprise a thumbs down. I'd not enroll.

I am a HUGE fan of affordable online education, so I like what the company stands for in principle, but when I look at their pitch to consumers: "A full year of college for $99 month .." I don't think it states their value proposition accurately.

My problem is that Straighterline is NOT a college, but it pitches itself as one to consumers. This is a course design company. Many-many companies design online courses. In fact, most old textbook companies like McGraw Hill now write online courses and lease them to colleges for use.

Straighterline is NOT a college and it is NOT accredited, so it cannot award college credits. I think for them to say that they offer "college credits" is somewhat deceptive. The company offers courses that are largely self-study with some "tutoring." These courses carry "college equivalency" recommendations from ACE. Colleges themselves can decide how many, which, and what kind -- if any -- ACE college equivalent credits they accept.

One caveat: Almost all colleges limit the number and type of ACE college "equivalency" credits they will accept toward a degree.

SEE: College Credit for Experience CLEP etc

I see this company as a part of the long tradition of offering self-study courses for use toward the CLEP and other "college equivalency" exams. Given their pricing, and the fact that the majority of students who enroll in online self-study like this drop out,I see the full year of college for $99 a month pitch a bad deal for most consumers. (And actually it isn't $99 -- it's $99 PLUS a $39 per course fee.) The reality is most won't make it through their first self-study course. If a student does complete a course there is still the question of whether not a college will accept these courses and transcript them toward a degree.

For these reasons I'd stick with the tried and true self-study courses for CLEP and other nationally accepted and standardized exams. You can get a CLEP self study book at your library and then register to take the CLEP for considerably less cost than the StraigterLine deal. In fact, literally, your local library could make a Straighterline style pitch that you can use their CLEP and other self-study college equivalency course credit guides for free and get "a full year of college for free."

Price wise and credit wise I'd look to find an affordable community college online and earn credits directly from the college itself. It would be just as economical; much less risky as the college itself is awarding real college credit on a transcript; and you'd get more structure, peer interaction and unlimited teaching/tutoring: all factors that significantly help course completion rates.

I have no problem with the company as a course provider -- that is a company that makes courses that colleges can lease or use for their credit bearing programs. I have not taken these courses but the course design and quality has been debated by those in higher education who have taken these courses. There seem to be mixed results there.

A story in the Chronicle of Higher Education on September 18, 2011 -- http://chronicle.com/article/Ambitious-Provider-of-Online/129052/ -- Ambitious Provider of Online Courses Loses Fans --- gives some background from those inside higher education and the reviews of the courses themselves seem mixed. In the CHE story the company acknowledges the following: "According to the alumni survey, 38 of 48 students who sought credit from nonpartners got it." That means 10 of 48 students who sought academic credit from a college did NOT get it after taking these courses. That's exactly why I'd be cautious if I were a consumer wanting to earn college degree credit.

That's my two cents! I'd stick with the tried and true self-study method and take the CLEPs OR find an affordable community college online and go for it.

Vicky 

luonline posted this 11 January 2012 - Last edited 21 October 2015

I would have to agree. If you can find an affordable online bachelors you will be far better off. I would love to hear what others have to say about it though.

mas77 posted this 16 August 2014 - Last edited 06 August 2015

Adding more feedback. Big thumbs down on this school. Took a Calculus course and dropped because it was so disconnected with chapters not being consecutive. You would end a chapter with a question from the professor and the question was never answered. Then you'd start the next chapter and it was starting right in the middle of a problem that you had never seen before (but was being presented as if it was something you were already working on). Really, really disjointed and hard to follow. Can not recommend it at all.