Posted in Curriculum, Distance Learning, High School, Self-Paced Learning, Straighterline

Straighterline Dissected: What to Take

I first published this story in February 2017, though some of the point distributions have changed since then, the strategy is still going strong! Since you can see every Straighterline syllabus by entering their website and clicking on the course you’re interested in, you can adopt these ideas for any class you choose!

update.png


Not all Straighterline courses follow the same format.  In this document, we’ll explore the structure of each Straighterline course, and I’ll help you break down the differences between them.  This will help you choose courses that meet your specific need.


Courses are generally considered “easy” and/or “fast” to complete when they:

  1. Consist only of only exams, a midterm, and a final.  Those three exam types are multiple choice format, open book, and instantly graded by computer.  
  2. The course point distribution allows you to accumulate enough points to pass the course before taking the final.
  3. The course textbook is available digitally, which allows you to search out answers quickly during exams.  Tip: hold the Ctrl button and press the F key.  A “find” box will open, and you can search the text for any word or phrase.

Courses are generally considered “hard” and/or “slow” to complete when they:

  1. Have assignments that must be uploaded to Straighterline.  The assignment will be graded by a human, and can take 3-5 days.
  2. Are subject to a human’s interpretation of the course instructions, which can result in a low grade.  The nature of the grading system means your grader is anonymous and you can not ask follow up questions or make revisions.  You will likely have a different person grading each of your assignments.
  3. Require labs.  Science labs can stretch several days each, especially if you’re waiting for a reaction or culture to grow.  Labs also require uploading photos in every lab report.

Courses are generally “more expensive” when:

  1. You take a science lab.  Science labs all require lab kits purchased through the link in the course syllabus.  Lab kits can cost as much as $200. 
  2. You don’t use a discount code.  There are usually at least 2 codes at any time.  I keep a log of current codes on this website. Discount Codes

A passing score for every Straighterline course is 70% unless your college says differently.

Straighterline credit comes into every college as PASS/FAIL credit unless your college says differently.  

Charter Oak State College (CT) is the only college I know of that awards letter grades for Straighterline courses.  They use a standard 90=A, 80=B, 70=C grade scale.

When the “pre-proctor” column is 700 or more, you can pass the course before taking the final exam. Note, they still require you to take it, but there’s no pressure.


I pulled all of the following MASTER TABLE information from the Straighterline website on 2/25/2017.  I’ve kept the table for reference, but be sure to use a current syllabus when doing the math for yourself.

MASTER TABLE

STRAIGHTERLINE COURSECONTENT SUMMARYPRE-PROCTORPROCTORED EVENT
Accounting 14 exams @ 150 / midterm 200800Final exam 200
Accounting 24 exams @ 150 / midterm 200800Final exam 200
American Government4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200700Final exam 300
Anatomy & Physiology 116 exams @ 40 / midterm 160800Final exam 200
Anatomy & Physiology 1 Lab9 exams @ 42 *lowest score dropped

 

9 written lab reports @ 83 *lowest score dropped

1000-0-
Anatomy & Physiology 213 exams @ 50 / midterm 150800Final exam 200
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lab9 exams @ 42 *lowest score dropped

 

9 written lab reports @ 83 *lowest score dropped

1000-0-
Biology13 exams totaling 700700Final exam 300
Biology Lab8 exams @35 / 1 homework @ 40

 

8 written lab reports @ 85

1000-0-
Business Communication14 exams @ 25 / midterm 150

 

3 written papers @ 100

800Final exam 200
Business Ethics4 exams @ 175700Final exam 300
Business Law4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250
Business Statistics6 exams @ 125750Final exam 250
Calculus 14 exams @ 125 / midterm 150650Final exam 350
Calculus 24 exams @ 125 / midterm 150650Final exam 350
Chemistry6 exams @115690Final exam 310
Chemistry Lab8 exams @35 / 1 homework @ 40

 

8 written lab reports @ 85

1000-0-
College Algebra4 exams @ 125500Final exam 500
Criminal Justice12 exams @ 50 / midterm 200800Final exam 200
Cultural Anthropology4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250
English Composition 1*15 exams totaling 610

 

9 written assignments totaling 400

1010-0-
English Composition 217 exams totaling 510

 

8 written assignments totaling 500

1010-0-
Environmental Science4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250
Financial Accounting4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250
First Aid4 exams @100 / midterm 200

 

1 demonstration 100 / CPR verification 100

800Final exam 200
Introductory Algebra7 exams @ 100700Final exam 300
Introduction to Business4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250
Introduction to Communication4 exams @ 100 / midterm 100

 

3 speeches totaling 300

800Final exam 200
Introduction to Nutrition15 exams @ 40 / midterm 150750Final exam 250
Introduction to Philosophy4 exams @ 75 / midterm 200500Final exam 500
Introduction to Programming C++4 exams @ 50 / midterm 200

 

8 Program assignments @ 25

600Final exam 400
Introduction to Religion4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200700Final exam 300
Introduction to Statistics5 exams totaling 500 points500Final exam 500
IT Fundamentals19 exams totaling 700 points700Final exam 300
Macroeconomics*19 exams @ 40 / midterm 120880Final exam 120
Managerial Accounting4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200700Final exam 300
Medical Terminology4 exams @ 125 / midterm 200700Final exam 300
Microbiology6 exams @ 100 / midterm 200800Final exam 200
Microbiology Lab8 exams @ 48 *lowest score dropped

 

8 written lab reports @ 95 *lowest score dropped

1001-0-
Microeconomics*24 Exams @ 30 / midterm 140860Final exam 140
Organizational Behavior4 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250
Personal Finance14 exams @ 50 / midterm 100800Final exam 200
Personal Fitness10 Exams @ 70

 

Fitness test/Caloric Inventory/5K race @ 0

700Final exam 300
Pharmacology 14 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250
Pharmacology 24 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250
Physics4 exams @ 150/ midterm 200800Final exam 200
Physics Lab9 exams @ 42 *lowest score dropped

 

9 written lab reports @ 83 *lowest score dropped

1000-0-
Pre-Calculus4 exams @ 175700Final exam 300
Principles of Management4 exams @ 150 / midterm 200800Final exam 200
Psychology*4 exams @ 175700Final exam 300
Sociology10 exams @ 50 / midterm 150

 

5 discussion assignments @ 20

750Final exam 250
Spanish 14 exams @ 75 / 2 written assignments @ 75

 

2 oral assignments @ 75 / midterm 150

750Final exam 250
Spanish 24 exams @ 75 / 2 written assignments @ 75

 

2 oral assignments @ 75 / midterm 150

750Final exam 250
Survey of World History18 exams totaling 700 points700Final exam 300
United States History 14 exams @ 125 / midterm 200700Final exam 300
United States History 24 exams @ 125 / midterm 250750Final exam 250

NOTE: the quizzes, labs, homework, exams, and even mid-term exams are all open book.  The only closed book activity is the FINAL EXAM, and not all final exams are closed book!  In other words, your teen should be able to earn nearly perfect scores on everything leading up to the final exam.

SL courses WITHOUT webcam proctored final exams

English Composition 1
English Composition 2
Microbiology Lab
Anatomy & Physiology 1 Lab
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lab
Biology Lab
Chemistry Lab
Physics Lab

SL courses approved as “Advanced Placement” by College Board

English Composition 1
Macroeconomics
Microeconomics
Psychology

SL courses you can’t pass unless you also pass the final exam

Chemistry
Calculus 1
Calculus 2
Introduction to Programming C++
College Algebra
Introduction to Philosophy
Introduction to Statistics

SL courses that require written essays

Business Communication
Sociology
English Composition 2
English Composition 1

SL courses that require giving speeches/video recording

Spanish 1
Spanish 2
Introduction to Communication

SL courses that require a 3rd party to verify your activity

First Aid
Personal Fitness

SL courses that require purchase of a lab kit

Anatomy & Physiology 1 Lab
Biology Lab
Chemistry Lab
Microbiology Lab
Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lab
Physics Lab

TIP:  If you have multiple children that are earning lab credit, you only have to buy 1 lab kit.  Email Straighterline at Advisor@straighterline.com and request a “group lab form.” 

SL courses that can be “passed” before taking the final exam 

Macroeconomics
Microeconomics
Introduction to Communication
First Aid
Business Communication
Accounting 1
Accounting 2
Anatomy & Physiology 1
Anatomy & Physiology 2
Criminal Justice
Microbiology
Personal Finance
Physics
Principles of Management
Spanish 1
Spanish 2
Sociology
American Government
Business Law
Business Statistics
Cultural Anthropology
Environmental Science
Financial Accounting
Introduction to Business
Introduction to Nutrition
Introduction to Religion
Organizational Behavior
Pharmacology 1
Pharmacology 2
United States History 1
United States History 2
Western Civilization 1
Western Civilization 2
Personal Fitness
Psychology
Biology
Business Ethics
Introductory Algebra
IT Fundamentals
Managerial Accounting
Medical Terminology
Pre-Calculus
Survey of World History

Jennifer’s TOP 10 Suggested SL Courses

based on: fewest computer graded activities that can result in a pass before the final exam

  1. Psychology – not only is this course approved as an AP course (record it as such on your teen’s high school transcript) but it only has 4 exams @ 175 points each + final. If you want, your teen can also take the AP exam and/or CLEP exam.  The content of this course aligns with both very nicely.  Note: a target college will only award 3 credits for intro psychology once, even if you take the CLEP too.
  2. Business Ethics – some partner colleges consider this a philosophy or ethics course, which meets a general education requirement!  Only 4 exams and a 300 point open book final.
  3.  Accounting 1 & 2 – These don’t make sense for all of my readers, but if you’re looking for math alternatives or business courses for your teen, these two courses follow the same structure and can yield a full year of math.  There are 4 exams and a midterm (all open book) totaling 800 points.  Since only 700 is needed to pass the course, you can pass long before attempting the 200 point open book exams.
  4. Principles of Management- Also a less traditional option, the structure makes this class a winner.  4 exams and a midterm (all open book) totaling 800 points.  Again, easy enough to pass before attempting the 200 point open book exam. CLEP also offers an exam for this course.
  5. American Government- Almost every high school student takes a government course, so this acts as a great DIY dual enrollment option.  A straight-forward structure consisting of 4 exams and a midterm (all open book) totaling 750 points.  The final is closed book, however, it’s possible to pass this course before taking the final. CLEP offers an exam for this course, however, the pass rate is very low.  SL would be a significantly easier option if deciding between the two.  *While there is an AP exam in this content area, the SL course is not an approved AP course.
  6. Environmental Science– Considered a nice and easy science by most, the structure here makes this course a great option.  4 exams and a midterm (all open book) totaling 750 points followed by an open book final.  *While there is an AP exam in this content area, the SL course is not an approved AP course
  7. Introduction to Religion- This course is usually considered a general education course, not a theology course, making it a good option for any degree.  The structure is simple with 4 exams and a midterm (all open book) followed by a 250 point open book final exam.  In my opinion, I thought this course covered the major religions well and without a strong bias toward one over another.
  8. United States History 1 & 2 – Like Accounting, these two courses can be taken individually, but when taken together make a full sequence.  Both have the same structure: 4 exams, a midterm, and a final.  US History 1’s final is closed book, while US History 2’s final is open book.  Either way, it’s possible to pass both before taking the final.  There are CLEP exams for US 1 and US 2, but if you want to plan for an AP exam, be sure to take both classes!
  9. Western Civilization 1 & 2 – Identical in structure to US History 1 & 2, but both have open-book final exams.  Like all the courses on this list, you can pass the class before taking the final exam.  There are CLEP exams for Western Civilization 1 and 2.
  10. Cultural Anthropology- This course is an alternative to Sociology or Psychology as a social science option.  In some colleges, this course also meets requirements related to world cultures or diversity.  The structure is very similar to the others on this list- 4 exams and a midterm with a 250 point open book final.

If you want to learn how to Homeschool for College Credit, I recommend picking up the second edition from amazon or your local library! 

020-6x9
Homeschooling for College Credit
Posted in Distance Learning, Dual Enrollment, Free Tuition, Scholarships, Transfer Credit

Scholarship Alert: 1 free class from Outlier

Outlier is the “unicorn” company that formed a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh to offer college classes online ($400) and have them appear as original credit on an official University of Pittsburgh transcript. This is a legitimate form of credit laundering, and based on the feedback so far, these classes are cinema-quality-knock-your-socks-off. Your teen could be one of 1,000 selected to get a class for free!

Continue reading “Scholarship Alert: 1 free class from Outlier”
Posted in Distance Learning, Dual Enrollment, High School, HS4CC, Science

Parent Review: Hawaii Pacific University for Dual Enrollment

Special thanks to HS4CC parent Gordon F. for sharing his review of Introductory Oceanography at Hawaii Pacific University. This science course earns 3 college credits (non-lab) and you’ll award your teen 1 high school credit. Oceanography is a great science to consider if you’re looking for an interesting variation of Earth Science!

Continue reading “Parent Review: Hawaii Pacific University for Dual Enrollment”
Posted in Distance Learning, HS4CC

Paper-based Correspondence Classes

Sick of online classes? I received a message today from a HS4CC parent asking about paper-based correspondence classes. Some of you may remember a time when “distance learning” was actually a paper-based snail mail process. Though most have faded away, YES, I do keep a list of these programs if you’re interested in something a little different.

Continue reading “Paper-based Correspondence Classes”

Posted in ACE, ALEKS, AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Credit by Exam, Distance Learning, DSST, Dual Enrollment, edX, Foreign Language, HS4CC, MOOCs, Sophia, Straighterline, Study.com, Temporary Homeschooling

College Credit & Social Distancing

We’re in full social distancing mode, but even with so many businesses closed, earning college credit is still possible for most of our audience!  The following list shows you which college credit resources are still alive and well! Continue reading “College Credit & Social Distancing”

Posted in Distance Learning, Dual Enrollment, High School

What will they say?

When I started homeschooling 24 years ago, a lot of people had opinions about our children’s education. After you homeschool for a number of years, and it’s working well, you start to realize that non-traditional college options might be worth considering too.  After all, you’ve already discovered that “one-size-fits-all-education” is a myth, what if “one-size-fits-all-college” is also a myth? Continue reading “What will they say?”

Posted in College Admission, College Majors, Computer Science, Distance Learning, Free Tuition

University of the People

I have 1 over-reaching principle that guides what type of college content I share with you, and the University of the People breaks my rule.

(1)  Colleges I share must be Regionally Accredited – this one isn’t.

So, why keep reading?  Because this college is worth knowing about, even if it isn’t the right fit for your teen.  In this post, I want to make a case for the University of the People. You probably know someone who would love to attend college if cost weren’t a barrier. Perhaps this IS a degree your teen would consider?   University of the People is a university doing amazing things, and they’re worth considering.


Accreditation

I have to go there, just for a minute.  My first rule, that colleges mentioned must be Regionally Accredited (RA), is important within the context of what we do here because many careers and professions won’t acknowledge a degree that isn’t RA. Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, Accounting, public school K-12 teaching, Engineering, college teaching, Dietetics, Social Work, Architecture, and many others – including those that require a state license, almost always specify a “Regionally Accredited” degree.  Being “accredited” without the word “Regional” is not the same thing.    If your teen earns non-RA college credit, it will almost never transfer into an RA college (all community colleges and public universities are RA), while RA college credit readily transfers into other RA colleges.  So, as you can see, you can’t go wrong choosing RA.

Let me also add that when I tell you a handful of careers specify an RA degree, there are twice as many careers that don’t/won’t.  For instance, careers in business, computers, fire science, technology, military, ministry, drama, music, management, law enforcement, and numerous vocational programs (culinary arts, cosmetology, automotive, plus others) don’t care.  In fact, within certain fields, accredited is accredited; there is no distinction.   I am quite comfortable suggesting non-RA colleges to mid-career adults who are already in their career and simply need to check the box with an accredited degree in something.  I’m usually quiet when it comes to non-RA degrees for teens since there is usually so much uncertainty, but in this post, I’ll let you decide.

University of the People is accredited, but they are not Regionally Accredited.

Quick Back Story

In 2009, UoP was a tuition-free startup in California that nobody heard of and a guy surrounded by a few volunteers.  They offered one or two degrees initially, and since the college wasn’t accredited, they launched without much love from the higher education community.  In addition, they only accepted a handful of students (mostly non-American), so even if you didn’t mind their lack of accreditation, you still might not get in.  If you got in, you couldn’t transfer in ANY of your previous credit, they didn’t accept CLEP, and it was a little disorganized.  An early argument against their initiative is that it’s just as much work to earn an unaccredited degree as an accredited one.   I got the impression that they were a MOOC that wanted to be a college, and that they would fizzle out shortly (or start charging tuition).  If you’d like to see what the NY Times had to say about UoP in 2009, you’ll enjoy this story from their archives.

But then….

February 2014 UoPeople received accreditation from the Accreditation Commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), a U.S. Department of Education authorized accrediting agency. This can be verified at http://www.deac.org/

So, this got people’s attention.  In addition, they started getting a lot of support in the university community.  Their list of volunteer university leadership includes:

In addition to the added credibility of a real leadership team and accreditation, they expanded their degree offerings to their current menu:boy3.jpg

Business Administration

  • Associate
  • Bachelor
  • Master

Computer Science

  • Associate
  • Bachelor

Community Health Science

  • Associate
  • Bachelor

For those who don’t need a Regionally Accredited degree, this university just got real. University of the People is now considered a legitimate online university and is listed in the US Department of Education Database as accredited.  Wow!


Tuition-Free

University of the People is the first worldwide tuition-free university.  They are totally online (no room and board cost), provide your textbooks (electronically, so no shipping or rental fees), and don’t charge tuition. But, they do charge a test proctor fee ($100) at the end of each course for the final exam.  In addition, if $100 is a financial hardship, they also offer scholarships!  From their website:

It is the University’s mission to provide affordable, tuition-free education for everybody. UoPeople is tuition-free, not free. You will never be asked to pay for courses, course material or annual enrollment fees. There is a nominal $60 Application Processing Fee for all applicants as well as a $100 Exam Processing Fee for each exam ($200 for the MBA). Based on this, an associate’s degree can be completed in 2 years for $2060,  a bachelor degree can be completed in 4 years for $4060, and an MBA can be completed in 15 months for $2460. UoPeople will never request these amounts upfront, but rather students will pay each Exam Processing Fee by the end of each exam period. These modest fees ensure that the University remains sustainable and can continue to provide quality education for everybody.

There are scholarships available for those students who cannot afford the nominal processing fees of the University. It is the University’s belief that everyone deserves the right to an education, and that no one should be left behind due to financial constraints.


Transfer Credit

(from UoPeople website)  What Credits Are Accepted at UoPeople?

University of the People will consider transferring credits earned at accredited US universities and accredited universities outside of the U.S. UoPeople will also consider credits earned from College Board AP tests or evaluated by ACE (including CLEP).

UoPeople will consider accepting transfer credit for a course in any instance in which the course content is equivalent to that of one of UoPeople’s courses or in which the course may be used towards an elective credit in a UoPeople degree program. UoPeople may award the transfer of up to 50% of the required program credits.

Ok – so, let’s talk about transfer credit, and how this applies to my second rule:

Colleges I share must be open to high school homeschooled students – this one isn’t.

It’s true that as a homeschooled high school student, you wouldn’t be eligible for admission.  (18 years old and a High School Diploma are required for admission) but with their new transfer credit acceptance policy, you can DIY 50% of this degree while you’re still in high school.  For those seeking an Associate’s Degree, that allows for 30 credits of transfer, and for those seeking a Bachelor’s Degree, you’ll be allowed to transfer in 60 credits.

Let me add, that while they will accept credit into their program, it is unlikely that you’d get to transfer course credit out of their program into a different program. In other words, if you start there, finish there.

Last comment:  this is not a self-paced independent study program.  They have 3 terms per year, an academic calendar, application and graduation cycles – the whole thing.  So, if you’re considering the program, you’ll have to verify the application period in advance.

DIY 30 or 60 credit transfer plans by request:  I want to extend an offer to help any parent or teen match up the correct CLEP, AP, DSST, or ACE credits to align with the max allowable credit accepted by University of the People.

If you or your teen plans to attend, email me at cookderosa@gmail.com or send me a message and we’ll get started.

Any degree plans we create will be shared here to help others.


If you’d like to hear from someone much smarter than I am, the founder of Univerity of the People, Shai Reshef, gives a TED talk about how higher education is changing “from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all.”