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Alternative Pathways To College Credit. Topics. Introduction Alternative Pathways to Credit StraighterLine Marketing Strategies for Colleges The Big Picture. About Me…. Background in non-profits and public policy.

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Alternative Pathways to Credit


Marketing Strategies for Colleges

The Big Picture

about me
About Me…

Background in non-profits and public policy.

Masters “thesis” helping a consortium of MA community colleges develop an online learning financial model.

Founded SMARTHINKING in 1999

Founded StraighterLine in 2008


Can I repay the debt?

What am I learning?

Can I get a job?

Out-of-Pocket Spending

Different Academic Choices

Focus on Course Transferability


student benefits
Student Benefits



Greater Persistence


Provides affordable, well-supported, flexible online general education college courses and helps colleges recruit new students.

Courses cost $399 per course, 10 courses for $999 or $99 per month + $39 per course started. Almost 90% sign up for the subscription.

Expect to serve 3,000-4,000 students this calendar year. So far, 50 states and 25 countries. 62% successful completion rate.

College Algebra, Composition I and Pre-calculus are the most popular.

On average, students take 1.7 courses over a 3.6 month period.

principles of course redesign
Principles of Course Redesign*

* Course Redesign is the process sponsored and developed by the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) which has been proven to increase student performance and to reduce costs for general education courses at hundreds of colleges.

anti cheating strategies
Anti-cheating strategies

Clear prohibitions in student handbook.

Stiff penalties for cheating.

Student must affirm at registration.

Anti-plagiarism tools.

Large test pools – algorithmically generated questions when possible.

Anti-plagiarism lesson at start of course.

Course retakes are averaged with previous attempts.

identity verification
Identity Verification

Interactive Voice Response (IVR).

Optional Web-based Proctoring Through ProctorU (


Math, Composition, Accounting, Economics, Statistics, Biology, Chemistry

Third Party Reviews

arguments against
Arguments Against

“Fine Wine” Fallacy

“Platonic Form” Fallacy

successfully coop eting
Successfully “Coop-eting”

Be First (or Early)

Integrate New Initiatives Into Marketing

Identify Your Strengths

Be Strategic

what does this mean for colleges
What does this mean for colleges?

Erosion of most-profitable courses

Need to re-think pricing models

Need to re-think business models

New marketing and student recruitment opportunities

Controversy around new partnerships


Selective, high-priced colleges will be unaffected.

Non-selective colleges will loosen transfer restrictions.

Course prices will be variable and will reflect the cost to deliver the course. Subscriptions may become more common that flat tuition.

Residential will cost a lot more than online courses.

Highly efficient specialty course providers will emerge.

College marketing strategies will begin to resemble retail marketing strategies.

The rising cost of college will become a non-issue.

contact info
Contact Info

Burck Smith