Baltimore-based StraighterLine is piloting a new online option for international students looking to come to college in the U.S.
The South Baltimore edtech company created a new program that allows students to complete a year of coursework in their home country through online offerings , before transferring to a U.S. college in the second year.
The First-Year Online Value Pathway is a partnership between StraighterLine and Campus3, which works with colleges and universities on international marketing and recruitment.
Initially, the year’s worth of college credits will be accepted at three universities: Fisher College in Boston, National Louis University in Chicago and New England College in New Hampshire.
The program is designed to make the cost of education more affordable for students, and earn college credit that can be transferred while they may be waiting for a visa, StraighterLine CEO Burck Smith said.
Smith said the program is the first foray into offering courses for international students for StraighterLine. Yet it fits into the company’s model of offering first-year online courses that can be transferred to colleges and universities. So the work of building the coursework and setting up how the credits will transfer is already in place, Smith said.
With the model established, Smith said, additional opportunities to expand are opening up. Smith said the company doesn’t see lots of risk in this particular expansion, but it will take time to prove out this particular application of the model. The first students will have to enroll, spend a year taking classes, then transfer the credits in the U.S.
“It’s going to take some time for that pipeline to build out, which is fine,” Smith said. Ultimately, the pilot will explore whether international students are willing to take new steps to save money on a U.S. education.
At the colleges participating in the test, such tests are seen as necessary.
“With the recruitment of online students being as competitive as it is, it’s only a matter of time until online delivery blends with face to face delivery to create innovations for these students,“ Robert Melaragni, Chief Admissions Officer at Fisher College, said in a statement.