The fact that college tuition costs thousands of dollars each year is accepted as fact in most of the United States. A new web service called StraighterLine, profiled by the Washington Monthly, wants to bring the price down to just $99 per month. For the cost of a nice dinner for two people, StraighterLine students get courses “designed and overseen by professors with PhDs,” and real live tutors “available at any time, day or night, just a mouse click away.”
The company is currently trying to take business away from the big introductory college classes, where hundreds of students pack into lecture halls, often taught by grad students or adjunct faculty. StraighterLine purports to be more responsive to the students’ needs at a fraction of the cost of big institutions, and even cheaper than most online universities. The problem, according to Washington Monthly, is that big schools often use the money from the big introductory classes to fund the “libraries, basketball teams, classical Chinese poetry experts, and everything else.”
A company like StraighterLine has the potential to disrupt the entire college business model and make things very uncomfortable for a lot of big-name universities. According to the article, StraighterLine, and other institutions like it will “seriously threaten the ability of universities to provide all the things beyond teaching on which society depends: science, culture, the transmission of our civilization from one generation to the next.”
Source: Washington Monthly
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