For distance learning students who want very inexpensive courses and a lot of flexibility time-wise, there is a company offering courses which gives you both of these factors. The company is called StraighterLine and there are both pros and cons to taking courses with them. They are not a school which means that they do not offer complete degrees or certificates. What they do offer is freshman level online courses which can then be transferred to colleges and universities that will give credit for courses which are evaluated and recommended by the American Council on Education (ACE). Here are some of those pros and cons of taking courses through this company.
- The cost is one of the lowest you will find for university or college level courses that can be used for credit. There are 3 plans available. One is $99 per month plus $39 per course. Another is $999 for a complete freshman year (up to 10 courses in 12 months). The third is $399 for any course and you have access for a 6 month period. You will also need to purchase a textbook for each course you enrol in.
- Given these choices and prices, you will probably not require student loans to pay for the courses.
- Given the above choices, it is easy to see that you have total flexibility in the amount you pay, the number of courses you take and the length of time you take to complete them.
- There is 10 hours of live online tutoring included with each course.
- You can transfer credits earned to any of StraighterLine’s “Partner Colleges” (about 22 colleges) which are all accredited colleges. All college-level credits are recommended by ACE, and can therefore also be transferred to other schools. There is a list on the StraighterLine site which lists over 30 colleges and universities that have awarded credit for StraighterLine’s courses.
- There is a course advisor to help you with administrative problems including help to transfer your credits.
- Because StraighterLine is not a college, it cannot be accredited. Therefore many colleges and universities will not accept the credits as transfers even though they are on the list of courses recommended by ACE.
- StraighterLine does not take part in financial aid programs.
- Courses are not instructor led. If you prefer instructor led courses or require the extra help you can get from a teacher, this is probably not a good option for you. Many people concerned with the quality of education feel that there is a necessity for all courses to be instructor led.
- Some people feel that the courses are not updated regularly enough. In some subjects that can make a big difference to students.
- Since there is even less structure in these courses than in other online courses, students need a very high level of motivation and discipline.
These are some of the factors to consider when you want to take some freshman level college or university courses. The most important factor to consider is your own goals. As with any online course, you need to be self-motivated and able to organize your time well. Money is not always the most important factor to base your decisions on. However, it may be an extremely important factor along with the flexibility of these courses for someone who has a limited income, a family, and limited time. However, if you plan to or want to attend a particular school after completing these first year courses, then you need to check with that school to find out if you will be able to transfer your credits to that school. Do that before signing up for any other courses. Even though these distance learning courses are cheaper than most, they are not free, so do your homework.