The companies/organizations in this category sell courses “for college credit” that have been evaluated by the American Council on Education (ACE). ACE credit is not as transferable as credit earned directly through a college, but can be very transferable when used with the intention of transferring to one of the partner colleges. ACE is a third party credit evaluator that evaluates all types of learning that happens outside of a college. This kind of college credit is guaranteed to transfer into partner colleges (varies by provider) but transfers poorly outside of partnerships.
Straighterline courses are offered as a subscription + per course basis. There is no limit to the number of courses you can complete in a month.
Straighterline subscription works best when you can lighten your homeschooling load and focus on 1-2 Straighterline courses exclusively. Since finishing 2 courses in a month is very cost effective, that is the recommended strategy.
See how I used Straighterline with my 10th grader to accumulate 39 credits in one semester (cost included) Straighterline and my 10th Grader
What you need to know about Straighterline
How it works: You pay a monthly subscription fee of $99 per user. Then, you purchase courses a la carte as you need them. A “free” ebook is provided with every course, so it is all-inclusive. The only added cost is if you take a lab science. In those classes you’ll need to purchase a home lab kit.
Classes: Your teen can complete the course at their own pace, and then schedule the proctored final exam (if applies). Only English and lab sciences have graded assignments, every other course progresses through a series of tests and quizzes.
Exams: All courses except for English require taking a final exam. Some courses also have a midterm exam. It take 2-3 days to set up the exam with their third party proctor service ProctorU. They will monitor the exam via webcam and microphone. They will also perform the identification check, a room scan, and have a brief conversation with the student. The exam score is uploaded instantly.
TEST ANXIETY? A unique feature of Straighterline courses is that many of the courses allow you to accumulate more than enough points BEFORE you get to the final exam. This means students go into their exam with zero pressure to “pass” their final. Each course allows you to review the syllabus and point values before signing up.
Potential: Straighterline offers over 70 courses for college credit.
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, but if you clear your schedule and work on 1 course at a time, you can complete a course in a week or two.
My high school teens complete an average of 1-2 courses per month when I added a subject to their school day, but did 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. We paid $1,200 total for 39 credits.
My 10th Grader’s Spring Semester (read this to understand cost)
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. When you use a code to buy a class you have to have an active subscription, but you don’t have to complete the class at that time. Courses can sit in your account for years. My oldest son has many courses in his account that are over 10 years old, ready to complete if he needs them. (I bought them when they ran an amazing sale). It is not always a good deal to buy a course when your subscription is inactive, the exception is when you can stock up on courses at the discounted price. As a rule, I consider anything better than $30 per credit a “stock up price” for Straighterline courses.
$99 subscription + 1 regular price course $59 = $158 (divide by 3 credits = $53/credit)
$99 subscription + 1 discounted course $9 = $108 (divide by 3 credits = $36/credit)
$99 subscription + 3 discounted courses $9 each = $126 (divide by 9 credits = $14/credit) **STOCK UP!
ACE and Expiration Dates: While Straighterline courses never expire in your account, Straighterline refreshes, replaces, or removes courses when their ACE evaluation expires. This is typically in a 3-year cycle. If you don’t finish a course inside the dates, you risk losing access to the college credit if they are removing the course. If they refresh or replace the course, Straighterline will offer you the new course for no cost, but you may lose your progress.
Straighterline Dissected: What to Take (an older post but shows you how to use a strategy that still works today)