Are you thinking about enrolling in an online class? You’ll be in good company. According to a report by the Sloan Consortium more than one in four students takes at least one distance learning class. The study, called Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, found a double-digit jump in the number of online students in just one year. It keeps going up.
More and more brick-and-mortar schools are getting in on the online action, which, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, may be in large measure a way to redress budget shortfalls. The cost of running a class virtually is significantly less for a university than staffing, heating, cleaning, etc. an actual classroom. So, even if you don’t think online learning is for you, you may well need to take at least a few distance learning courses to finish your degree — especially if you are at a public institution, which offers more online coursework than private schools.
The Economic Crisis
The study also found that bad economic times — like the one experienced by Americans over the past two years — are historically “good” for high ed enrollment, and in particular online classes. Whether you have a job or not, many prospective students are looking to increase their competitiveness in the job market with additional classroom learning. While 54% of institutions reported that the recession increased demand for face-to-face courses, 73% of institutions saw an increase in online courses.
Online Learner Demographics
Also, according to the Sloan report, far more undergraduate (80% of the total) than graduate students (14% of the total) are taking online classes. The balance are non-degreed students, such as those enrolled in certification programs.
Enough of the official stats! What are you seeing out in the “field”? Are you taking online courses as part of your degree program at a brick-and-mortar school? Have you considered going full-time at a distance institution? Is an online degree right for you? What’s driving you (or holding you back)? If affordability is the issue, be sure to check out this post on financial aid for online learners.