Approved website says toughest challenge with online postsecondary credits isn’t their success in transfers, but explaining to how they work to students.
Earning online credits, thanks to for-profit mishaps, has earned notoriety with students eager to chip away at a meaningful degree at their own pace. But according to one popular website, it’s not the credits that are the problem.
Online education resource Study.com, which focuses on helping college students earn credits online for transfer to their institution of choice, began offering 19 American Council on Education (ACE)-approved credit-granting courses. The ACE-approved credits are part of an effort to become a place for students to earn credits that would eventually supplant the need for community colleges.
Although it remains to be seen if Study.com can accomplish this goal, the website has continued to expand their offerings to serve more than 10 million students who visit the website monthly.
“Study.com is an education provider for students who want more flexibility and control of their education,” said Study.com director of education Jessica Bayliss. “Students today want to be able to move at their own pace, complete courses faster or slower depending on their own needs, and not waste time or money in college if some classes can be taken more efficiently and affordably elsewhere. That’s what Study.com offers – the removal of barriers such as cost, time, and inflexibility.”
But even though students want more flexibility and control of their education, understanding the process of online crediting remains a large challenge, says Bayliss.
“Our biggest challenge right now is educating students on how alternative credit works,” she explained. “Many students think they have to attend a school to earn college credit; they don’t realize that they can earn most of their credits from an alternative source like Study.com.”
Study.com currently offers over 1,000 courses on their website, all of which are designed around short videos taught by experts and include only what the website says is the most essential content related to the subject. Each video also comes with an accompanying transcript for any students who would rather read than watch.
“I liked it a lot. I’m a visual learner, and I like testing what I’ve learned [through Study.com’s quizzes] before going on to learn something else,” said Sabriyyah Khawaja, an 18-year-old who just began college at the Art Institute of Dallas and completed College Math, Psychology, Humanities, and Environmental Science courses all in the month leading up to her first semester. “I was going to enroll at a community college and take online courses there before I started college in the fall…but I was interested in online learning so that I could go to work and take classes at the same time, and have a lot less to worry when I’m enrolled in school. It’s all so self-paced. If I’m at work, there are times when I’m not doing anything, and I could just start going through lessons while I was there. If I need to pause it, I can pause. If I need to go back, I can go back. It’s easy to manage.”
Study.com’s new College Accelerator program revolves around 46 courses that have been approved by ACE to grant college credits. After watching all of the video lessons in a course, students can take a final exam online whenever they feel prepared to do so, and once they pass, can transfer the credit to their college. Several students have successfully passed college granting courses thus far, says the website.
“We want the credit transfer process to be as seamless as possible, so we’ve created articulation agreements with many schools that guarantee credit transfer,” continued Bayliss. “And we are part of the ACE network, which includes more than two thousand schools that accept transferred credit. We’re continuing to grow the number of schools that we partner with so that students don’t have to worry if their credits will be accepted.”
Thus far, for the students who have been guided through the online credit process by Study.com, earning online credits for transfer has been a positive experience.
“I have transferred [my] credits, and the process was very easy,” said Rebecca D., a 15-year-old enrolled at Liberty University who completed Human Resource Management and Principles of Marketing Courses in only two weeks. “I added the courses to my ACE transcript, which took less than a minute, I sent the ACE transcript to my school, and the courses showed on my transcripts within 2-3 weeks.”
“I am pursuing online learning because I work a full time job and because it is so much more cost effective than a traditional university education,” said Quinn Wilson, a 29-year-old from Toronto who has completed six courses, each of which took around 15-20 hours, on Study.com since June. “I am able to get university credits for a fraction of the price and do it at my own pace and on my own time which is very helpful. I also chose to learn online for the speed of the degree completion. What normally takes 4 years, I have done in less than 2 and have not felt like I was sacrificing my life. I don’t have to stress that much about money and I am able to achieve all this by working a job that pays just above minimum wage. I like not feeling stressed about money while getting my degree.”
“My advice for online learning: take advantage of it,” continued Wilson. “You save money and time. You don’t have to commute. You can get help if you need it. You do it at your own pace. It is worth the investment and I feel it is the educational platform of the future.”
Going one step farther, Khawaja intends to complete the entirety of her general education requirements through Study.com
“Right now we don’t have a lot,” said Khawaja. “My sister helps pay for groceries and my dad works two jobs. I have to try and bring tuition down as much as I can, and that’s why I’ve been taking online classes, because saving money will help out my family a lot. It’s also allowing me to graduate sooner—and the sooner the better, they always say. My advice to online learners would be to take advantage of as much of it as you can. College is expensive; you want to get as much out of the way as you can before you start. Otherwise you’ll just waste a whole lot of money.”
Every time a student earns credit, it’s gratifying to think of how much time and money they may have saved then if they had gone through a traditional institution said Bayliss. “Right now, we’re working towards expanding our library of courses recommended for credit by ACE so that students can earn even more of their degree from Study.com. We’re also playing around with gamification because we believe that we won’t really be able to move the needle on online education until we make learning really fun, until we make learning addicting. In the long run, we aim to be nothing less than the number one destination for online education.”