Reducing the Cost of a College Degree

How do you get college credit at 80% of the cost? You take a class through the newest player in the world of online education,

Founded in 2009, this social learning platform was recently picked up by the online giant, Capella University, and was built to educate college students at a fraction of the cost.

Currently, five courses provided by can be transferred over to 2,000 different colleges and universities, and it will only cost you $110 per semester credit. This is $798 less than any private, four-year-institution and $160 less than any public (in-state), four-year-institution.

The whole online platform has been touted as a quicker way to succeed, a greater way to save, and a smarter way to learn. You can choose from multiple instructors, who offer different teaching styles, and various real-world applications of the material.

Sounds like a good deal? Are you ready to get started? If you’re not, consider this: I took a class myself, and I have to say, it’s definitely worth looking into. Read on if you want to learn more about what really has to offer!

Why It’s Worth Trying

Here’s why I like the whole concept for this online platform: you can try every class for free, AND you can work at your own pace and convenience.

For me this has three advantages:

  1. 1. Flexible scheduling
  2. I started my intro class on a Monday evening, and I was completely amped up about the experience: I had the time, I had the focus, and I was excited to be learning something new.

    On Tuesday, I felt it was in my best interest to take a break from my intro course, so that I could watch six back-to-back episodes of, “Fringe.” And so I did. 

    On Wednesday, I returned to my studies, watched 13 tutorials, and completed section one of my Intro to Statistics course. It took me approximately 1.5 hours to watch all 13 tutorials and to take each chapter quiz.

    The point of sharing this scheduling scenario is to show you that the Sophia platform is built to accommodate the chaos and complexity of everyday life. Whether you have work commitments, family engagements, or a really unhealthy relationship with Netflix, you can find a way to make your class schedule work.

    Just know that each course runs over a 60 day timeframe. If you find yourself struggling to finish your class, don’t worry. You can request a 30 day extension, and work with a learning coach to assist you with your progress.

  3. 2. Trying it on for size
  4. Knowing that you have the time to take an online course is the first trouble stone to overcome, but what if you’ve never taken an online class, and you don’t know if it’s meant for you? Obviously, there’s always the option to just bite the bullet and pay for an intro level course, but there’s a level of uncertainty that comes with this kind of investment. Who knows if it’s really worth the time and money?

    In this instance, there’s really no risk for people who are new to online classes because every course comes with a free trial session. When I signed up for a account, I was able to immediately start an Intro to Statistics course, so I could see whether I had the discipline to learn and retain the concepts being taught.

    Out of the six units offered for the Intro to Statistics course, I got to complete the first unit for free. This allowed me to see how the class was structured, it allowed me to watch tutorials, I was able to take “chapter” quizzes, and I was able to complete the unit exam. In all, I was able to see exactly how the class would work, and whether I would be successful in the program.

    It was a great way to experience an online course without making a personal or financial commitment.

  5. 3. Assessing the quality of instruction
  6. The other reason it’s great to have a free course is so you can gauge the quality of instruction. Yes, you might be able to skirt through a series of online lectures, and complete your work in a relatively short amount of time, but were you actually able to learn the material?
  7. Speaking from my own experience, I was surprised to find that I actually needed to apply myself to the course material, and that I needed to prep myself for the challenge exam.

    At the end of each tutorial, you have the opportunity to test your knowledge by answering three, multiple-choice questions. You’re basically recapping the main points of the lecture.

    When you go to take the unit challenge exam, however, you’re being tested on your ability to recall the concepts that you learned. The test format changes from multiple-choice to fill-in-the-blank, which means that you actually need to (1) remember each concept, and (2) understand how it works in a practical context.

    The Sophia program is really designed to test your knowledge, and ensure that you’re learning the material that’s being presented. I know this for sure because I had to pass my challenge exam with at least a 70%, and the answers to the test aren't available through a Google search. Something that I looked into for the purposes of investigative journalism…

Case And Point:

After playing around with the Sophia program for a couple of days, I would say that this is a good approach to online education. Did I love everything about the course? No, and I think that’s because I have my own personal preferences as a student; as anyone would. However, the thing that makes this a really great option is the ability to try the program without having to commit in a personal, financial, or verifiable way. It’s exciting to see an online school step into a paradigm that verifies the legitimacy and quality of their course content, so that students have a higher success rate.

If you take a course through and you have a positive or negative experience, please take the time to share your thoughts below. It’s great to hear the experiences of others, so we can provide the best possible insights for helping people advance in their academic and professional careers.

I certainly had an interesting time with it – hopefully you will too!