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Official Website: www.straighterline.com
What: Straighterline is a business that offers online courses.
Who authorizes the credit? The courses have been evaluated by the American Council on Education as college credit eligible.
Who accepts the credit? Straighterline has over 100 partner colleges that have formal credit arrangements. Not all of their partners accept all of their courses for credit. Furthermore, the course equivalency list may be one or more semesters old. Confirm that your target college awards credit before enrolling. Interesting point: Straighterline has more partner colleges than anyone else in this segment.
How it works: I suggest visiting their official website for a detailed overview, but I’ll give you the quick version. You pay a monthly subscription fee of $99 per user. You then purchase courses a la carte as you need them (average around $50 each). For most of the courses, a textbook is required, but they incorporate a “free” ebook into the course fee. If you want a physical text, you’ll have to buy that on your own. The contents of the course are self-paced and NOT proctored. Quizzes, exams, homework, and midterm exams are open book. After you complete all of the course’s required activities, you’ll take the proctored final exam (if applies) via webcam on your home computer. They use a third party proctor company called ProctorU to monitor you during your test. Your exam score is uploaded instantly. If you passed the course, you must complete the final step of getting your course onto your ACE transcript.
What is an ACE transcript? Create an ACE account Each of your homeschooled students needs their own ACE account with individual email addresses. Creating a transcript is free but not so easy. I’ve made a short Youtube Video to walk you through the process. Save their login information, they’ll keep the same account for life.
Potential: Straighterline offers 55 courses for college credit totaling about 156 potential credits. Note that most of the partner schools cap the number of StraighterLine credits you can use toward a degree. Strict schools allow as few as 30, while generous schools allow up to 90.
Cost: Cost is difficult to determine since the pace you complete the course determines the cost. Students are incentivized to work quickly because the faster you complete the course, the cheaper it is. The minimum cost to complete any course is one month ($99) plus the cost of the course(s) you choose. Straighterline’s marketing material suggests you can complete 1 course in a month. Completing 1 course in a month is about $150/month. I can tell you that the adult learners on InstnatCert focus on speed over learning. It isn’t unusual for members to power through an entire course in under a week, which brings the cost down considerably.
My high school teens complete an average of 2 courses per month if they’re adding as a subject to their school day, but have done 3 courses in a month when it was their “only school” subject for the month. Completing 3 courses costs $99 subscription + $59 per course (x 3) = $178*. So, you can see it is more cost effective to complete SL courses QUICKLY and in BULK rather than spread out over a semester.
Scholarships: Straighterline has scholarship arrangements with many partner schools. A typical arrangement is “complete 4 courses with StraighterLine and receives 10% off tuition.” Check to see if your target school is on their Scholarship Participants list.
Codes: Codes reduce the cost of your SL course, and there are always codes. I keep a current list here: Discount Codes. It is normal to receive $50 off each course you register for, and they NEVER EXPIRE, so you can purchase the courses during a promo code period, and use it later! (I use codes for all our classes. In the above sample, my son completed 3 courses *9 college credits*, each with a $50 off code for a total of $127!
ACE and Expiration Dates: While Straighterline courses never expire in your account, Straighterline refreshes or replaces courses when their ACE expiration is up (or has the option to, of course, they may also choose to do nothing…but since we can’t read minds…). So, it’s important to keep an eye on dates when the courses you purchase are up for renewal. I advise you to “use them up” before their renewal – this avoids any potential sticky situations that may cause you trouble. MOST of the Straighterline courses in the current database will be up for expiration/renewal on 5-30-2018.