[F]our-year degrees typically require two luxuries Solvig didn’t
have: years of time out of the workforce, and a great deal of money.
Luckily for Solvig, there were new options available. She
went online looking for something that fit her wallet and her time
horizon, and an ad caught her eye: a company called StraighterLine was
offering online courses in subjects like accounting, statistics, and
math. This was hardly unusual–hundreds of institutions are online
hawking degrees. But one thing about StraighterLine stood out: it
offered as many courses as she wanted for a flat rate of $99 a month.
“It sounds like a scam,” Solvig thought–she’d run into a lot of shady
companies and hard-sell tactics on the Internet. But for $99, why not
take a risk?
Solvig threw herself into the work, studying up to
eighteen hours a day. And contrary to expectations, the courses turned
out to be just what she was looking for. —Kevin Carey, Washington Monthly