We Don’ Need No Stinkin’ MOOCS


At FTE we believe our online programs are better and more effective than MOOC offerings. Read below as our Director of Online Curriculum and Instruction, Kathy Ratte, lists five reasons why!

Completion rates for MOOCs hover below 20% with EdX recently announcing that a study by noted providers Harvard and MIT revealed average completion rates of 15% in their highly regarded courses (http://www.katyjordan.com/MOOCproject.html).  A quick Google search pulls up pages of advice on “How to Improve Online Completion Rates” with the goal of reaching an underwhelming 40%.

The bar is much higher at FTE; online completion rates routinely exceed 90%, and 100% isn’t uncommon.  The secret isn’t much of a secret:  Incentives work!  The rewards of interaction in the virtual FTE classroom are apparent from the very first day.

  • Class sizes range from 10-25 with a dedicated, fully engaged instructor.
  • Lesson content and assignments are created by FTE staff within the guidelines for graduate credit set by the Economic Department of the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, freeing instructors to do what they do best – teach.
  • Talented instructors who are still engaged in high school and community college teaching are learning coaches, charged with providing frequent interaction, on-demand support, and timely, individualized feedback.
  • Course are paced (Apparently that “get-to-it-whenever-you-like” MOOC model doesn’t work out so well.) and the small size allows for flexible accommodation to unpredictable interruptions that plague the schedules of busy teachers.
  • Small group, online interaction offers connection to a community of teachers who share their enthusiasm for learning and for their profession.


Renew your enthusiasm through interaction with other dedicated professionals and take the power of economic reasoning back to your classroom.  Enrollment is open for fall, 2017 FTE Online.  Take the challenge.  We know you’ll succeed; we’ve got your back!

Find out more about our online classes: https://www.fte.org/teacher-programs/online-programs/



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Staff Spotlight – PC, Alex Baker

At FTE our Program Coordinators (PC)s are an essential part to ensuring our student summer programs are successful! They act as a mentor and guide to our students throughout the week. alexb1

One PC that we are fortunate to have on the FTE team is Alex Baker. This summer Alex can be found working at our Economics for Leaders program in Berkeley, CA and our Economic History for Leaders program in Boston at Tufts. He is an alumnus of the program, attending EFL Wooster in 2011.

When Alex is not at EFL he is travelling and teaching. Last year he worked for the Austrian ministry of education as an English speaking assistant. He was placed in a vocational school and a general education school where he helped students with their English as well as introduced different topics related to American culture. Next year Alex will work as a choir director at Columbus North High School in Columbus, Indiana where he will be working with show choirs, jazz choirs, traditional choirs, and piano students.

When asked what he loves about the job of Program Coordinator, Alex says,  “it gives me the opportunity to interact more closely with students than I would in the classroom, both because I work with a smaller group and because of the nature of the activities. Students tend to get really close to each other over the course of the week, and they learn how to work together more effectively as a team, while utilizing their indivisible strengths. It’s really rewarding for me to witness that process.”  alexb2

Just like the students that Alex works with, he himself has the opportunity to learn and grow with each program. He says,  “working at EFL each summer reminds me that I should always be seeking to improve myself and move forward, and that I should surround myself with people that will support and guide me along the way. I’m continually inspired and motivated by the people I meet at EFL and I feel like they encourage me to be the best version of myself. ”


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How Do We Ensure the Ideas of a Free Society Are Passed On?

Young people do not look with awe or a sense of wonder at an iPhone, a computer, or the incredible medical miracles happening every day. But they should. Our tremendous material wealth; extended life expectancy; falling infant mortality; and even our enjoyment of arts, culture, sports, and recreation are brought to us by freedom and the free market system.

To ensure that the rising generation appreciates our free enterprise system, I offer several recommendations.

Teach economics in high school and college. According to the Council for Economic Education, only 20 states currently require high school students to take a course in economics. That is less than half of the country and two fewer states than in 2014. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni reports that only 3 percent of colleges and universities require economics. Yet economics affects virtually every aspect of life, from personal finance and public policy to international affairs and culture.

Improve the teaching of economics. Emphasis in an economics course should be on the way the world works, not simply on graphs and equations that are easy to test but difficult to relate to human behavior. The economic way of thinking, if taught right, can be applied to nearly all aspects of life. Therefore, the best economics is taught by doing economics, not talking about it. A variety of games and activities can be used to teach how trade creates wealth and why property rights are essential to prosperity. Economics should not be taught as “the dismal science,” but as a remarkable study of how prices coordinate the activities of millions of strangers from diverse backgrounds to produce mutual gain.

Read important articles and foundational books. At the risk of neglecting many outstanding contributions, I will suggest a few:

“I, Pencil” by Leonard Read, Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt, The Law by Frederic Bastiat, The Federalist Papers, and Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. There are dozens and dozens of other classics out there. Choose ones that are age- appropriate and cover the range of concerns to those who favor freedom and free markets.Roger-Ream-Web-779x1024

Author Jonah Goldberg has observed that “capitalism is the greatest collective enterprise in the history of humanity. It is the most successful cooperative endeavor ever undertaken. It has just one flaw. It doesn’t feel like it.” Freedom and free markets allow billions of people in this world to pursue their interests and improve their living standards without interference from elites who think they can plan a better life for them. We should celebrate that and teach the next generation why they should too.

Mr. Ream is the President of the Foundation for Teaching Economics.

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Summer Planning for the College Bound

Summer time, summer time sum-sum-summer time

No, it is not really summer time yet, but it is time to start making plans for summer. The reason why is because how you (and here are I am targeting high schoolers but in particular rising seniors) spend your time over the summer provides meaningful information to colleges about your skills, interests and level of commitment. And, deadlines for applying to certain summer programs are approaching or unfortunately have passed. Also, don’t forget that you soon-to-be seniors will most likely be writing an essay with some variation on the theme of what you learned from your summer experience. So, summer plans time it is! summer school

Does this mean you need to solve world hunger or pad your resume with some buzzworthy (and probably exorbitant) prestigious summer program? Not necessarily. However, it is wise to be strategic. The goal is to find something you genuinely like to do, do it well and learn something from it that will be of interest to colleges. In this article I will provide some broad ideas as well as some particular recommendations for what might be of interest to you for the summer. If you are fortunate enough to have more resources at your disposal, here are the usual options.

  1. Enrichment Programs: What is an enrichment program? It is a fancier way to say education opportunities i.e. schooling. Options range from a chance to live in dorms and go to classes on campus, to commuting to classes on campus to online opportunities. I often recommend to students that they find a program that enables them to “try on” their major. I also suggest that students look for opportunities to develop leadership skills—something college admission staff value. A program that many of my students have enjoyed and found worthwhile is the Economics for Leaders (www.fte.org/students) program sponsored by the Foundation for Teaching Economics since it combines both of these attributes and is located on may desirable college campuses across the country. Most colleges, such as the UCs, the Ivy League and art/music schools, have their own summer programs for high school students. Keep in mind, though, that participation in these programs does not mean automatic acceptance to the college come fall.
  1. Travel: Expand your frame of reference and learn more about different cultures and their perspectives, perfect fodder for a college essay not to mention a valuable personal growth opportunity. Either make the most of an already-planned family trip or try striking out on your own. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this – become an exchange student and live with a host family through AFS American Field Service (www.afs.org/usa) or YFU Youth for Understanding (www.yfu-usa.org). Participate in a language immersion program such as EF International Language Centers (www.ef.com) or Global Routes www.globalroutes.org). Plan a road trip and visit National Parks and historical landmarks.
  1. Work: College admissions officers like to see that students are responsible, take initiative and work well with others. Having a steady job and getting promoted is a way to show you have these skills. It is not bad for the wallet either. While it is sometimes challenging for high school students to find employment, keep in mind that this type of work experience does not have to be highly professional to be worthwhile. Jobs such as bagging groceries, babysitting and coaching are viewed favorably. If at all possible it is best to show commitment over time – depth rather than breadth. Consider applying for jobs through the city, look on websites (www.summerjobs.com, http://www.snagajob.com) and network.
  1. Volunteer: There are many kinds of volunteering opportunities to consider when thinking about summer. Community service, un-paid internships, tutoring, getting involved in a cause are all examples of ways to demonstrate dependability and learn valuable skills. There are other “psychic rewards” as well such as personal satisfaction, being a part of something that is bigger than yourself, connecting to your community. Check out the YMCA, local religious organizations, Families First, or a charity of your choice.

Tend to business

Along with your summer activities, be sure to keep the ball rolling with college admissions. Summer is the time to work on drafts of application essays, put together an academic resume and visit colleges in preparation for the busy application season come fall. In the midst of all of this, many students are also busy with their sports camps and tournaments.

Jennifer Borenstein is an independent college advisor and the owner of The Right College For You in Davis, CA. J Borenstein

You can reach Jennifer at http://www.therightcollegeforyou.org

(portions of this article have appeared in the Davis Enterprise in the College Corner column)

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Recent Alumni Profile – Jillian Huels

This time last year Jillian Huels was reluctant to apply for FTE’s Economics for Leaders program. By the following October she was a guest speaker at the TFAS/FTE Leadership Conference looking back with fondness on her time at Duke University saying of her experience, “It was an incredible one which I never expected”. huels, jillian

Since her time at Economics for Leaders Jillian says she has become more perceptive to the political world around her developing a deeper understanding of public policy issues and even joining her high school debate team.

When asked her favorite part of the experience, Jillian remembers the people with which she spent her time.

“Immersed in an environment with some of the most intellectual people I have ever met”, people who “truly cared about their future and supported those around them”.

As a senior in high school Jillian is also looking towards the future. She hopes to advance her studies by following a pre-medical track in the future but also continue to stay exposed to a variety of subject fields such as macroeconomics, psychology, and comparative government throughout the remainder of her school year.

If you’d like to learn more about Economics for Leaders and the spaces we have available then click here!

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Where We are Wednesday – College of William and Mary


It’s a William an Mary Wednesday! We still have spaces available for both students AND teachers on this beautiful historic campus.

Just how historic you ask? The College of William and Mary was chartered on February 8th, 1693 by King William III and Queen Mary II, making it the second oldest college in the United States! While on campus you can even pay a visit to the Wren building which is the oldest academic building still in use today.

Former alumni such as Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler would be sure to agree that it’s a great place to learn a little leadership and economics.

You can learn more about how to sign up on our website http://www.fte.org!

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Alumni Spotlight – Ruby Au – Nashville 2011

Ruby Au, has traveled near and far. Since participating in the Economics for Leaders program at Vanderbilt in Nashville, she moved to Los Angeles to attend college at Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and Dornsife College. Throughout her time in college, she worked abroad in Panama, Hondurans and Cape Town.

These days however, Ruby can be found in rural Kenya running Lumen, a social enterprise organization that works with students to create a financially sustainable model for computer education.

Having the opportunity to work with international micro-businesses through college is what led Ruby on her path towards Lumen. While always interested in studying business, it wasn’t until she went to Vanderbilt University to attend Economics for Leaders (EFL), that Ruby began to think about economics as a cultural, behavioral, and human-interest issue as well.img_2809-1

About her EFL experience she says, “It wasn’t just about acquiring a skill set- it was also about impacting lives through the ability to apply a theoretical system of thinking to situational contexts. This largely influenced my decision to study business in university later on”.

Since then, the process of creating Lumen has been exactly that: trying to understand a different context, and innovating existing business models to fit that unique need.

Although 70% of Kenya’s population lives in rural communities, these areas are by and large cut off from the digital revolution sweeping the urban centers of the country.

Lumen helps to establish computer labs where its students work, providing market research services for development organizations. Students are then able to master project-based computer skills while also learning to analyze and think critically about issues in their community.

Lumen is currently participating it its very own crowdfunding campaign and would love your support to raise awareness about this issue! Please feel free to read more about the organization on their website at http://lumenlabs.cc/.


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