If you were told that you could enroll in as many college classes as you could while paying a flat fee of $99 per month, you’d probably dismiss the thought as an outlandish claim, or possibly a scam. $99 a month is certainly not the tuition you’d expect to pay at a fully accredited American institution of higher learning.
To many students the $99 college is not only a refreshing reality; it is a welcome change in the higher education landscape. According to many observers and analysts, American colleges and universities are currently suffering from a crisis that strikes them from many different angles. While students at community colleges are fed up with with increasing budget cuts to their learning institutions, other students are deeply concerned about the rising cost of tuition effectively pricing them out of a college degree.
Is college really worth it?
The true value of a college education in America has recently become a contentious issue at various media outlets. In a 2008 essay written for The Atlantic, an anonymous college professor questioned the true merits of a college education. The essay was revisited in March of 2011 amidst a flurry of media articles asking variations on the same question: Does the high cost of college tuition justify the need? Is college for everyone? What is the true value of higher education?
The Atlantic isn’t the only publication tackling the issue. An article in the Washington Post posits that bypassing college could be smarter than paying for a degree. The New York Times asked if attending an expensive elite university was worth the cost. And even the Harvard Graduate School of Education dared to publish a well-thought out report insinuating that maybe a four-year degree wasn’t the right choice for everyone.
A common thread running through all the anti-college rhetoric is the matter of tuition and profit. In the current financial crisis, a four-year degree just doesn’t provide a solid return on investment anymore.
The value of learning versus getting a diploma
For all the recent negative opinions directed at the state of American colleges, no one is arguing against the true merits of learning. A well-educated staff is still the priority of many employers. In fact, getting a job seems to be the sole motivation of students for going to college. Employers are demanding bachelor degrees with higher frequency than before. It’s the degree system that is seen as flawed.
An affordable college education is just a mouse click away
The Internet is perhaps the best thing to have happened to education. StraighterLine is the academic outfit behind the $99 college concept. An online student can enroll in as many courses as he or she can handle. Students configure their own academic load and learn at their own pace. They have access to course materials, online study groups, academic advice, even live tutoring. The course materials are rich in content. Students can listen to audio podcasts of lectures or watch academic video presentations. The use of college textbooks is optional for many StraighterLine courses, although students are strongly encouraged to study along with a textbook. To that extent, StraighterLine has a discount textbook store program that allows students to turn their used college books into cash.
For just $99 per month, StraighterLine offers comprehensive courses that the student can turn into college credits. A StraighterLine student can present his or her course grade transcripts to one of StraighterLine’s partner colleges that can effectively give credit towards a degree program. The courses are evaluated and credited by the American Council on Education, an organization that counts more than 1800 degree-granting institutions of higher learning.
The online college courses offered at StraighterLine are geared towards satisfying the core requirements typically found in the curriculum of many American universities. The academic offerings are straightforward: in the English and Communication fields students can enroll in Composition I and II, as well as in Business Communication. Algebra, Statistics, and three Calculus modules are available to Math students. For those who need to satisfy Business requirements, there are three Accounting and two Economics courses to choose from. And for those Science courses that have lab requirements such as General Chemistry, StraighterLine students can satisfy the laboratory portion online as well.
The continuous growth of the Internet is bound to improve the horizons of online education, and the $99 college represents a firm step towards the next generation of American higher learning. The academic team at StraighterLine is constantly working to add on more offerings to their course catalog and to improve and streamline the credit transfer process.