Roll your own college education

Many students attend two, three, four or more colleges en route to a degree, writes Chad Alderman on The Quick and the Ed. With AP and online courses, plus low-cost community college options, even more will be rolling their own education. So why not let course-givers provide credits, instead of going through institutions?

StraighterLine offers college courses for $99 a month (read more about how this works here), but then partners with accredited colleges and universities, like Fort Hays State, to accept the credits and provide a stamp of legitimacy in the form of its regional accreditation.

Alderman envisions a student who takes “MIT’s math courses, StraighterLine’s Economics I, Introductory Spanish at the local community college, and a rhetoric course at a state university.”

All the courses must be certified as high quality and completely transferable, which could be possible with common learning standards and summative evaluations.

Ensuring quality is the challenge. The exam backing common learning standards couldn’t be set at the MIT level. What level would be considered reasonable?

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  1. That type of a setup seems more appropriate to folks seeking a degree as a “check the block” kind of thing. The value of my degree was not so much the coursework but the connections I made there (most importantly meeting my husband). When I’m in a cynical mood, I look at my alma mater as just a super-expensive country club…

  2. I’m interested in seeing the business model for higher education to change.

    The “brand name” schools may be able to escape unscathed, but I think the current cost-larded [and highly subsidized] model is not going to fare well going forward.


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