There’s a Groupon for Everything, Including … College?

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The daily deal model works well with restaurants, spas, and other small, service-oriented businesses. But Groupon and other daily deal sites are constantly branching out, experimenting with specially discounted vouchers for purchases such as cars, $10,000 deluxe hotel packages, and $30,000 weddings. Now, timed to coincide with what’s the first week of college for many students, Groupon knocks nearly 60% off tuition for a graduate course at a Chicago-area university.

Groupon began offering the first-time-ever special tuition deal yesterday. Normally, the three-credit graduate course Intro to the Profession and Craft of Teaching runs $2,232 at the Chicago campus of National Louis University. Sign up for the course through Groupon, though, and the course costs just $950.

The course is designed for pure novices who are curious about teaching as a career, not experienced teachers nor necessarily even students who are already pursuing a career in the field. To sign up for the course, you must already have a four-year undergraduate degree, and you can’t already be enrolled in NLU’s graduate program. The deal’s purpose is strictly to attract new students, who, if accepted into the program (it’s not guaranteed) will presumably have to pay full price for the other 33 credits required for the university’s graduate degree. The intro NLU course is not transferable, Groupon notes.

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Whether this Groupon deal will be a success, and whether similar higher education discounts pop up in the future, remains to be seen. Groupon’s summer car deal, in which consumers paid $200 for a $500 voucher valid on new or used vehicles at a Michigan car dealership, was basically a flop. Not enough people purchased the deal even after the buy-by date was extended, and eventually only two cars wound up being sold.

The problem is that, thanks to the limited quantities and time restrictions that go along with daily deals, they are inherently impulse purchases. Few people would recommend making a large purchase (such as a car) or deciding on a career path (such as teaching) on an impulsive whim, without taking plenty of time to think things through.

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And how would you answer the inevitable question about why you became a teacher? “Um, well, there was this course that was on sale.” Have fun telling that story to the audience on parent-teacher night.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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