You will eventually reach a point in your academic endeavors in which non-traditional credit sources are difficult to find.  Maybe a circumstance arises in which you need to complete a lab requirement or a higher-level math credit you need that you cannot find on ALEKS. So where can you go to get credits that are still self-paced and cost effective? You have the option of completing the requirement through the school you chose to attend, but this is very expensive and time-consuming. Your school will require you to take some courses at the college such as a capstone requirement. For those requirements that your school does not require that you take locally, I recommend you go to Straighterline.com (http://www.straighterline.com/).

I stumbled upon this little gem in 2011-2012 while trying to find sources for additional ACE accredited credit hours and I hit the jackpot with Straighterline. They were just getting off the ground, so they needed people to beta test some of their courses. I paid for a couple of the courses, and they let me test four new courses free of charge; once the courses became ACE accredited the credit hours were retroactive. If you enjoy having support while you work through courses, they offer an extraordinary deal. You can attend your course online, and they will support you, as needed as you complete the course work. Through their college partnerships, you can even transfer credit directly into college without going the ACE if that is what you choose.

Their course list has grown immensely, and now they offer an impressive selection of options. The following list includes their offerings at the time of this writing by the categories under which the course can apply.

Business:

  • Accounting 1 & 2
  • Business Communication
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Law
  • Business Statistics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Financial Accounting
  • Introduction to Business
  • Macroeconomics
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Microeconomics
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Personal Finance
  • Principles of Management

English:

  • Developmental Writing
  • English Composition I & II

Health Science:

  • Anatomy & Physiology I
  • Anatomy & Physiology II
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Medical Terminology
  • Microbiology
  • Personal Fitness & Wellness
  • Pharmacology I & II

Humanities:

  • American Government
  • Introduction to Communication
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Introduction to Religion
  • Survey of World History
  • United States History I & II
  • Western Civilization I & II

Mathematics:

  • College Algebra
  • General Calculus I & II
  • Introduction to Statistics
  • Introductory Algebra
  • Precalculus

Science:

  • Anatomy & Physiology I & II
  • General Chemistry I
  • General Physics I
  • Introduction to Biology
  • Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Introduction to Nutrition
  • Microbiology

Languages:

  • Spanish I & II

College Prep:

  • Developmental Writing
  • Introductory Algebra
  • Student Success

Technology:

  • Introduction to Programming in C++
  • IT Fundamentals

Social Science:

  • American Government
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Introduction to Criminal Justice Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Religion
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Personal Fitness & Wellness
  • United States History I & II
  • Western Civilization I & II

You can check out their list HERE (http://www.straighterline.com/online-college-courses/). Each course has a great summary description.

Something amazing that Straighterline has added since I last attended is the provision of a free individualized degree plan that outlines what courses you need to complete for your degree. That information alone is invaluable to a student on a budget that doesn’t have a lot of time to waste. Also, the plan they provide can be used to see what CLEP and DSST exams you can take to satisfy certain requirements at one of their 100+ partner colleges, which of course includes all of The Big Three.

So what is the big deal about any of these anyway? Well, we have previously discussed how much just one of these courses would cost at a traditional college. Even at a community college, you will spend $300 – $500 plus books and fees. Here is the amazing thing about Straighterline. They offer a subscription service that costs $99 a month, and you only need to pay $59 per course that you take in addition to the subscription fee. You can take all of their courses if you like. There is no limit. No long-term commitments so you can stop taking courses and restart when you are able. No admission or application fees that you need to pay. Did I mention that they include eTextbooks for the courses free? You can get more information about pricing HERE (http://www.straighterline.com/how-it-works/how-much-does-it-cost/). It is insane to me that not everyone is using these resources to their fullest potential before jumping into the college debt trap headfirst. The value is beyond compare. I do not have an affiliate relationship with Straighterline, and the only interaction I have had with the company is taking their courses. I highly recommend their products if you like the idea of attending a structured course instead of testing with standardized exams.

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