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?
StraighterLine Reviews - Is it Legit?
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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.
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.
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.
We've had some emails about StraighterLine come in to GetEducated in the past few weeks. Most of the responses above are pretty old, so we’ve decided to provide a quick update. StraighterLine was one of the first providers of online college equivalent courses but is not an actual college meaning credit transfer was tougher and some questioned the company’s reputability. Today, StraighterLine has been through the ACE Credit recommendation process 9 times, and now has over 120 colleges with whom they have guaranteed credit transfer pathways (many of whom are household names and recommended by us). Their course selection has grown to over 60 courses and they were recently selected by the federal Department of Education to participate in an innovative program called EQUIP with Dallas County Community College District.
There are two types of Straighterline courses; standard self-paced and ProfessorDirect. Standard self-paced courses usually provide powerpoints and/or worksheets but assignments are not graded besides the final exam. ProfessorDirect courses provide additional instruction and support from an instructor. Their self-paced course pricing seems to be more or less the same. Students can still start with a free trial and then pay a $99/month subscription fee plus a one-time per-course fee of about $59 (though that can vary). It used to be about $49 per course, but they raised the price $10 and now include e-textbooks. The one-time per-course fee for professor led courses starts at $134. The longer you take to finish a course, the more expensive the course becomes, but it can be much cheaper than community college options. Student should expect to spend 75 hours on a 3-credit course. Finishing one course in one month would require about 17-20 hours of study per week. By paying month-to-month, students can stop a course if their situation changes without losing an expensive tuition payment. Courses have embedded live tutoring and final exams that require online proctoring.
Feel free to share your Straighterline experience below!
Online Education Expert
I am glad I came across this information from Kayleigh because approimately twoyears ago I was considering taking two courses with Straighterline, but I ended up taking two classes with Strayer University which costed me a lot of money. I was eligible for student loans but now I have loans to pay back.
Straighterline seems cheaper but I just need an understanding of why there is a $99/month subscription fee? on top of one time course fee of $59 for self-paced courses and $134 for Professor assistance courses. i can understand the course fees but not why a fee of $99/month. Not why just a flat $99 fee per course and the additional fees?
It is a pretty straight forward class method. The only courses that most would struggle with are the Math courses completely absent of any real professor or group study help. You can post a question and have it answered, but there is no one to look over your work and point out any weak points. It is more competency based and suited to individuals who already have a strong understanding of the subject covered.
I just finished (and Passed) a Straighterline Statistics class. I CANNOT recommend to anyone what I just went through and the review above from Kayleigh sounds like its from a Straighterline representative.
The class was advertised falsely as $74. That does not include their monthly $99 fee. It took me 5 weeks to finish this class and cost $272. Still Pretty cheap right? Well you truly do get what you pay for and in this case it is very very little.
First Straighterline they told me I could expect to spend studying about 75 hours (2-3 hours a day) and on average 5 weeks to complete the course. I spent more like 4-5 hours a day studying and the last week 8-9 hours daily while I was studying for their final. When I say studying I mean teaching myself Statistics because thats exactly what I did. I was also not working while I completed this class. No way I could have done this while working.
I was all alone taking this class. No one to say what? I didnt get that. They dont allow reaching out to fellow students who may be taking the same class as you. They advertise a tutoring function with their courses but its outsourced to another company. I tried using it many times and out of 6 or 7 different tutors I only had one, Sanika, who was fantastic. The rest were arrogant("Thats a math question and Im a Statistics tutor"), 3 tutors just could not figure out how to do the problem(which I brought to the attention of Straighterline but no response), 2 tutors told me it was the end of their shift and I had to log back in with another tutor. A couple other sessions the tutor could not get the concept across to me using a whiteboard in space. Its a VERY difficult way to learn math. The tutors are also not allowed to give you the answer to any problems.
I eventually hired a private tutor to help me get thorugh the class. Add on another $300 approximately.
The quizzes are open book and multiple choice. However. In trade off you are taken through every concept in their statistics e-book. I read every single page from 1-298. There were 31 or 32 quizzes. Some were only 2 questions. Some were 8 questions. I frequently felt I was being tested on semantics instead of understanding of theory and application of content. The final was worth 30% of the the grade and is closed book. The sample questions they posted for the final were 10x harder than any of the quiz questions. The practice final exam was a joke. All of 8 questions while the final was 60 questions with a 90 minute time limit. Its also proctored through ProctorU which I had did not have problems with however their reviews are abysmal.
I consider dropping the class and moving over to UOP who had a teacher led Statistics class for about $1350. At that point I would have gladly paid to have some interaction. I spoke to Myoshi at Straighterline who told me I was actually doing really well(I was pulling about 83% on the Quizzes) and I should not give up. Thank goodness for her. I would have dropped the class without her support and encouragement. With the private tutor's help I was able to pass the class. It was very stressful and what a lonely way to take a class. Never again. In my opinon its absolutely worth it to pay for the teacher interaction and guidance. Whats a textbook without a teacher? Its a crazy concept.
I haven't used Straighterline, but was recommended to use it to gain some credits. I'd originally enrolled at Western Governors University (which is completely online, unless they've changed it) with no teachers and so you are essentially teaching yourself. I had originally enrolled in the Teacher's College in Interdisiplinary Studies and was substitute teaching at the time. Long story short, I was able to complete my basic classes, but when I had to get into a classroom, the schools wouldn't let me because they wer "too full" for any observation students or student teachers. So I ended up on hold for 2-3 semesters (that I was still paying for), completing nothing. Finally, I was about to drop out because I was spending about $3000/semester for nothing, ended up on financial aid probation and kicked off financial aid for not completing my classes (though I couldn't without getting into a school, and the WGU didn't want to help me, as part of the requirements was for me to get into a school to observe... a big headache, put me on the outs at the schools I was in anyway. So finally my advisor changed my program to educational studies so i could graduate, just no teaching certificaiton. Which wasn't a big deal, as I live in Texas and with a BA I could enroll in alternative certification with a bachelors (if only I'd known about it from the beginning, I wouldn't have messed with the rest). ANYWAY, getting back to the question at hand, I later wanted to go back to the get the Master of Educational Studies (which I should have enrolled in before graduating, but hey, I was depressed, and upset and just ready to be done after all that mess). Well.... apparently as part of my "agreenment" for the non certificaiton degree, I wasn't eligible to go back for it and couldn't do the masters since I didn't have some classes complete. Anyway, so I was suggested to take some classes through straighterline. Thought about it, but ended up not since I figured they might not take them anyway.
The point of all that long speech was that if you're attending a school like WGU and will be teaching yourself anyway, it's not really a big deal. Or, in a case like I mentioned, the school specifically suggested taking classes through them. Otherwise I probably wouldn't.
Recently, 29 years after starting my undergraduate degree, I finished it. That was ONLY possible because of the credits I earned at Straighterline. I started college at a private college (costing $450 per credit hour), and could not afford it, so my degree had been on hold. Eventually, I learned about Straighterline, and worked with my college advisor to ensure which credits I needed could be transferred fully. Every class I put forth was approved for FULL transfer credit.
I completed 28 credit hours of coursework, which would have cost nearly $13,000 at my school, for under $1,500 at Straighterline. That Straighterline cost includes books, instruction, lab kits, proctored tests - everything! My college is accredited by HLC, a respected regional accreditor. After my classes at Straighterline, I returned to my school (paying full tuition-ugh!) to do three required classes "in residence". I did not miss a beat in those capstone-level classes, fully prepared by my Straighterline coursework. I recommend Straighterline to ANYONE I know who wants to go to college - it's economical, credible, and the coursework is on par with a college (as demonstrated by the many partner colleges who accept their courses for full transfer credit).
I think sometimes, we are intimidated by new ways of doing things. We are used to college education happening: in a classroom, with teaching at the same pace for all students, and costing thousands of dollars. No more! I was able to learn and work at my pace, schedule tests whenever I was ready (I even took a few in the midnight hours), and pause without the penalty of financial aid office issues. All without having to take out loans or worry about how I would pay. I was able to focus on course content, and work as swiftly or slowly as I chose. But these are college courses, and they will require focus, work, diligence, and taking the content seriously.
The school offers many "first class free" promotions. Check with your school for transferability, then I challenge anyone to try it out like I did (an initial $99 investment). Surely, your education is worth that small "risk." You will not be disappointed!
-Sheila (Straighterline 4/16 to 10/16; BS in Business Admin, December 2016; and MBA Completed, May 2018 (Both at Franklin University)
Note: I have zero connection to Straighterline, other than that I found the institution online, did my research, enrolled in and completed classes, and transfered them to my school. I have never been employed by, nor am I related to, anyone there. I want to make that clear because one might think such a glowing experience had to be fabricated. It is not. Not one bit.
I want to attend WGU but I have no previous college history. They suggested that I enroll in two courses from Straighterline (I had to get credits in two classes before I would be accepted). I took US History 1 and English Composition 1.
US History was a joke and required you to read hundreds of textbook pages and then take tests. Because you're not allowed to interact with anyone else and because the "tutoring" function is laughable, I just had to power through it. The test questions made absolutely no sense and, when I opened a ticket asking about the questions, I was told I could flag the ones I had issues with and call in. I flagged multiple questions all throughout the course - some of the questions were incomplete sentences that made no sense at all. When I called in about the flags, I was basically told I was wrong, I should have known because I was supposed to read the textbook and that was that. The study guides for the class had absolutely nothing to do with any of the tests, including the final. This was more of a refresher class for me, I took US History in High School and I live in America, a lot of it is common knowledge and I still barely passed the class with a 76%. I had over 2,000 flashcards that I knew backwards and forwards and still did poorly on all the tests. Apparently, their tests are randomly generated and can pull from any part of the book, which is why some of the questions didn't even make sense.
I am currently enrolled in and trying to finish English Comp 1. It took me a week to get through it and I have a 97% in the class right now. I have submitted my rough draft final and I'm waiting on them to grade it. I had to resubmit it because the grader that previously looked over my paper said it was a compare/contrast essay and not an argumentative essay. I made two comparisons throughout a 1200-word essay and argued one singular stance on the subject so, whoever is grading these papers is obviously not qualified to grade them. I resubmitted my rough for grading after removing two sentences and I'm waiting on it to be graded so I can submit my final draft to get credit for the class. I'm trying to complete this by Friday (it's Wednesday and I submitted my first rough on Sunday) so I can get enrolled in WGU for next month and not have to wait an additional month. I asked if there was a way to fast track the grading and was told there is not and I just have to wait the standard 3-5 business days for someone to look at my paper. When I asked if I would be billed if I was still waiting after this week (even though all of my work would be turned in by then) I was told yes, I would be. The "advisor" told me my timing is not her problem and I should have submitted the correct paper to begin with. I'm furious. I had an English professor at Texas A&M (an old HS friend) look over it and she disagreed 100% with the "grader" that said it needed to be changed.
They do not care that you're spending your hard-earned money with them and trying to better yourself. Their course material makes no sense and their tests are poorly generated. This was the worst experience and I'm just glad that I only had to take the two courses. All in all, I've paid $285 which includes two months of their "membership" (membership to what exactly?) and the classes ($79 for English and $59 for US History but I had a $50 coupon from WGU). Their customer service is the absolute worst and you can tell that no one answering the phones, chats or emails are educated in the fields they're "advising" on. Unless you're completely desperate, I wouldn't give them any money.
Please be aware that their tutoring is not real tutoring, if you do not think you can pass the class 100% on your own, don't waste your money. Take insignificant classes that you already know a lot about so you aren't compromising your education by taking the course via Straighterline. I can't believe colleges are partnering with them, they're terribly unprofessional and they don't care about the students enrolled.
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