Online Degrees - A rising trend in Education
Sloan Consortium, an organization dedicated to quality online education, stated in its fourth
annual report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education that nearly 3.2 million
students were taking at least one online course during the fall term of 2005.
The report went on to add that more than 96 percent of the largest institutions – those with
over 15,000 total enrollments – have some online offerings. According to the report, public
and larger institutions have constantly been the frontrunners in offering online courses.
Without a doubt, online education has traveled a long distance away from the days when
degrees earned though this mode faced bias from academic and corporate leaders. An
increasing number of chief academic officers today believe that the quality of online education
is superior or at par with the quality of classroom learning.
So, who constitute this growing online student community and what are they studying?
Interestingly, according to the Sloan report, the mix of students who prefer online mode is
different from the traditional student community. Online students often tend to be older,
working full time, and have family responsibilities. Online education has opened new vistas for
these students, who otherwise would have found it difficult to get a college education.
According to Sloan-C, majority of online students study at the undergraduate level. Within the
undergraduate bracket, the number of students who earn an associate degree online is higher
than those who enroll in an online bachelor degree.
The proportion of students who complete online master’s degrees is comparatively lower. But
what’s interesting to note is that more students enroll in online master’s degree programs as
compared to traditional graduate-level degrees.
This clearly points to a rising trend among students to take the online route for earning an
advanced degree and gaining expertise in their field. The reasons could be many – greater
acceptance, improved quality, unparalleled flexibility, better work-life balance, greater
affordability, and a chance to earn even as you learn.
With corporate supervisors also shedding their skepticism about online degrees and treating them
at par with classroom degrees, online students no longer face the same prejudice in the job
market that they used to a few years ago.
Many fields, that were once considered a bastion of classroom type traditional learning, now have
online offerings. These include nursing, healthcare administration, business administration,
accounting, graphic arts, etc. Students who complete these degrees online find ample
employment opportunities once they graduate. Moreover, institutes of repute also offer
employment assistance to help their students find job openings in their chosen field.
In today’s competitive job market when employers are looking to hire people who have the entire
package of academic knowledge, hands-on experience, and industry expertise, online degrees
offer an excellent opportunity to enhance job prospects.
In fact, many modern day employers understand that online degrees often need students to be
more disciplined, motivated, and self-starters adept at multi-tasking. And which manager wouldn’t
want someone with those characteristics on his or her team? The writing on the wall is clear –
online education is here to stay and all set to change the education landscape of this country.