Several studies and surveys have been conducted recently asking students and prospective students why they would choose to study online. Over 5.6 million students now study online, with a 19% enrollment increase in the past six years. That might not seem like much, but compared to traditional education whose growth was a mere 1.8%, the increase is significant. Over the next ten years, growth is expected to continue, with for-profit universities leading the charge.
With so many traditional college choices out there (over 4000 in the United State alone) why are people choosing online education? Following are just a few reasons that respondents listed in surveys.
This is a large category and embodies almost half of the responses gathered. Convenience reasons include: flexibility, family circumstances, inability to travel, and scheduling conflicts. A large number of respondents stated that their heavy work schedule gives them the flexibility to fit the course into their individual schedules. Still others said that their family health and/or personal circumstances made a distance education the logical choice.
Good past experiences
A significant number who responded to the surveys stated they had taken online courses previously and had a positive experience with them. Accredited online universities work to maintain their certifications by providing quality education at an affordable price to the students. They solicit course and professor evaluations from the students, which helps them to make adjustments as needed to ensure they keep a quality teaching faculty.
Those who travel for a living or travel frequently related to their jobs, found online courses to be the logical choice. Online classes are accessible from any computer with an internet connection, giving the students the freedom to check email, look at their course curriculum, schedule group conferences and even watch class sessions they missed that are recorded to video. Many universities are converting lectures to podcasts which make them accessible on any smartphone with internet capabilities.
Online courses offer students the opportunity to add classes in the summer while at home during break to accelerate their degree requirements and graduate sooner. It is also possible to take an online course from an accredited online college in the summer and receive credit for that course when entering college in the fall.
Recommended by someone
Students took online courses because someone recommended it to them. There are many satisfied customers (graduates) in the online community. The average graduation rate among those who take online courses is 71%.
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Need a different type of learning environment
Many learners are more comfortable learning at their own pace. Some people need teachers standing over their shoulders to keep them motivated, others are able to organize and pace themselves on their own without any need for constant reminders. These type of learners thrive in a distance learning environment. If you like working ahead, staying up late at night or studying early, and can resist constant distractions at home, online education might be worth a look.
According to a recent survey (Class Differences-Online Education in the United States, 2010) conducted by the Sloan Consortium, more than twice as many undergraduates attend the University of Phoenix online campus as go to an Ivy League College. If you have been considering an online learning course or are convinced that pursuing an online degree is right for you, there are many options available. Do your research and choose the college and the degree plan that best fits your learning requirements, your desired major, and your schedule.
Gilbert Chesterton said, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another”. Online universities give every member of society an opportunity to get an education and pass it on to the next generation.