Eighteen students will take an introductory teaching course at National-Louis University at a steep discount, thanks to the institution’s experiment with Groupon, a popular deals Web site. But the students have no guarantee that they will be accepted into the master’s program that the course is part of.
The students bought a discounted tuition voucher for the course, called
“Introduction to the Profession and the Craft of Teaching.” For the deal to kick in, a minimum of 15 participants had to buy in before the offer expired last Friday. The coupon-toting students will pay $950 to take the course, instead of the typical cost of $2,232—a savings of nearly 60 percent.
But they won’t be enrolled at the institution. Instead, each participant will be considered a “student at large,” said Nivine Megahed, the university’s president.
The at-large students will be taught in their own section, where they’ll get a broader overview of teaching than will enrolled students. They’ll also get some inside-the-classroom practicum experience, which enrolled students don’t get until later in the curriculum. That way, the students will have a stronger sense of whether teaching is for them before they apply to the master’s program, Ms. Megahed said. Often, when aspiring educators teach in a classroom for the first time, “they either love it, or they go running for the hills,” she said.
After taking the class, at-large students who want to complete the full program will have to go through the traditional admissions process, which requires a passing grade on Illinois’s Basic Skills test. “It does take time” to get that application in order, Ms. Megahed said.
For those who do ultimately enroll, the class will count as three credit hours out of the required 36. The students must pay standard fees for the rest of the degree program. Typically, students pay $27,000 for the master’s-in-teaching program and spend between 12 and 18 months to complete the degree.
Ms. Megahed said the university does not have any information yet about the students who bought the Groupon, but she is hoping the discount will give some who were thinking about getting into teaching the chance to try it out.
It is a test run for the university, too. The demographics of the institution’s graduate teaching students are similar to the demographics of Groupon users, said Joselyn Zivin, vice president for marketing and communications. The school will wait to see how successful the class is before deciding whether to do the promotion again.