Friday, January 6, 2012

Distance Doesn't Mean a Stop to Learning With Online Colleges

Not everyone who sets out on a path toward an online degree sticks with the program. About one in every two Americans who begin college distance learning or traditional college never finish it, according to the Lumina Foundation of Education. Now, some states are working to improve college graduation rates.
Through an alliance known as Complete College America, representatives from 17 states plan to work with colleges and universities to improve graduation rates, according to a March 2010 Associate Press report. As part of a separate initiative intended to boost college completion rates, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and New Mexico plan to next year allow high school students to take college entry exams in the 10th grade. Students who pass the exams have the option to earn their diplomas immediately and move on to community college, while others would have a better idea early on of what's expected at the college level and be able to retest in their junior and senior years, The New York Times reported.
Maintaining alternative high school credentials or a full-time job, delaying college entry, having dependents and attending college part-time have been among the risk factors associated with not completing college, according to U.S. Department of Education info cited from the Pew Research Center. A student's single parent and financially independent status can also make a difference, the information suggests. African-American and Hispanic undergraduates at the time maintained more of these risk factors than white undergraduates did, the research center reported.
The percentage of minority college students, and Hispanic students particularly, has been increasing, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. A recent American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy report confirmed that fewer Hispanic students complete college than those of other racial and ethnic groups. Only 51 percent of Hispanics at the average college or university complete a bachelor's degree in six years as compared with 59 percent of white students at those same schools, the "Rising to the Challenge" report noted.
Likewise, enrollments in online college classes, which the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning says tend to appeal particularly to adults, also are rising. Online college enrollment for fall 2008 had increased by 17 percent over the previous year, with 4.6 million students - or one-quarter of all college students - taking at least one online college class, according to a Sloan Consortium study. One study dating back to 2000 found that online college drop out rates can extend beyond 40 percent at some institutions, according to a report from the United States Distance Learning Association. Students who choose the flexibility of online learning because they're too busy to enroll in classroom courses might find that it's difficult to keep up even with their studies, 2000 and 2010 reports respectively in the Chronicle of Higher Education and USA Today noted.
Rising to the Challenge recommends that colleges and universities focus on and commit to high levels of retention and completion; that they provide Hispanic students with better consumer information, including information about schools within their academic and financial reach and schools with successful Hispanic student track records; that schools improve financial aid counseling and that students are encouraged to attend more selective schools if they qualify. Rising to the Challenge also suggested tying university aid to school performance standards, including student graduation and labor-market success, rather than on enrollment.
It's becoming increasingly unusual for students, particularly working adults, to enroll at one institution and remain there for their entire college education, the American Council on Education has reported. Some 60 percent of bachelor's degree recipients attend more than one institution - in some instances taking classes at two different institutions simultaneously or moving among multiple institutions, with non-enrollment intervals in between, the council noted. Studies related to online college programs have shown a strong relationship between student self-motivation and academic persistence, according to the Distance Learning Association report. Studies and reports have also suggested that successful distance learning programs include those where instructors maintain some form of personal contact with students, let them know what's required of coursework, respond quickly to their questions and concerns, offer interaction through message boards and similar technology and provide flexible course formats that better enable them to schedule studies between work and family responsibilities.
Colleges, universities and non-profit organizations such as the Lumina Foundation and the National Association of System Heads have, like states, been making strides to improve college graduation rates. One university in Texas has long offered an online bachelor's degree program that it touts as a degree completion program and that reportedly provides as many as 59 hours of college credit for technical and experiential credit. A community college and a university in Arizona have more recently begun working together to point students toward coursework that's required for certain degrees, to guarantee these students university admission and to make them eligible for limits on annual tuition increases, according to a March report in the Sierra Vista Herald. A California college is working to add a personal touch to online classes by employing a program that allows professors to deliver lessons and messages to students with Webcam video recordings and to use the service, Skype, for live, video conversations with students, the USA Today article reported.

1 comment:

  1. I would also want to check out online colleges . Glad to come across this post. Good job.