Online Classes Becoming More Popular
If you're considering online college enrollment but aren't sure if it's right for you, you might consider its many advantages. Students enrolled in online degree programs typically schedule studies between work and family responsibilities. They avoid costs associated with commuting and meal plans and might even find accelerated programs available where they can earn a degree in fewer than the two to four years it typically takes.
Online college, university and technical school classes and online degree programs have, in fact, been seen as a godsend by many students, a July 2010 report in Inside Higher Education noted. The offerings are particularly popular among adult learners, the article reported. These students might want to boost their professional credentials but have responsibilities that make it difficult for them to enroll in campus-based classes, the article suggested.
The quality of online college offerings has substantially improved over the past few years, the US Journal of Academics reports. Students also tend to do well in an online college setting, according to at least one study. The U.S. Department of Education in 2009 reported that students who took all or part of their program courses online performed better than those in classroom settings. Those who performed best combined online learning with on campus studies as part of what's known as a blended setting, the study noted. Some schools, however, might struggle because of online classes and online degree programs, an Inside Higher Education report suggests.
While online classes and online degree programs might not be for everyone, they have been growing in enrollment and availability. A Sloan Consortium study in 2009 noted that online enrollment over the past six years has grown faster than overall higher education enrollments. More than 4.6 million students took at least one online course during the fall of 2008, the study noted.
An article on the web site for a Maryland college with online degree offerings also noted that online college, university and technical school students receive individualized attention in communicating directly with instructors through the Internet. For some students, communicating with others remotely might be easier than doing so in person, reports show. They might interact through e-mail, bulletin boards and chat programs. Students enrolled in online classes and online degree programs can also enhance their technical skills, according to reports.
Online college studies might also be more "earth friendly," in part as a result of reduced commuting. They provide opportunities to meet a diverse array of people. In addition to students with family and work responsibilities, those in remote areas or with restricted mobility might find online college classes and online degree programs more accessible.
Industry partners and graduate students might benefit as well. At a university in Arizona that offers engineering students a choice of three online degree programs, at least one graduate students cited opportunities to conduct research that benefits employers as well, according to a June report on its web site. The institution's mining and geological engineering department began offering master's and doctoral degrees online in response to the need for these types of engineers on the part of mining companies, the report noted.
Experts have recommended that online college, university and technical school students establish schedules that incorporate study time into them. It's important to the success of online degrees, the Journal of Academics article noted. Successful students, according to this article, reported spending two to three hours a week per credit on their online college degree programs.
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