Comparing the Graduation Rates between Online and Traditional Colleges

You can either assume that online classes have higher rates of graduation or you can assume traditional classes have a higher rate. Both have reliable, statistically proven reasons as to why one could have higher graduation rates than the other. For example, online courses could have exceedingly good graduation rates because people taking online classes are generally more determined to complete their classes (ie: mothers or people with busy schedules). Why else would they take time out of their busy days to attend school? On the other hand, you could say that people attending school online lack the “camaraderie” that goes along with traditional classroom education; therefore they may drop out early, lacking the drive to continue. You can also argue that Universities and colleges must certainly have much better graduation rates because they place students in an environment where they are submerged in the school lifestyle. How could they fail? Well, what if some of those students hate living the college lifestyle or have a hard time getting to their classes on time? Maybe they are also intimidated by the parties and drinking pressure that go along with university living. It could be overly distracting and hard for them, in turn causing them to drop out due to lack in drive.

Online Courses Slightly Behind Traditional Courses

Graduation rates highly reflect the school they pertain to. With the thousands of schools in the U.S. alone, we can only wonder at the differences. However, there has been smaller research studies performed, which show a very slight decrease in the graduation rates of online students. It was said that traditional learning environments have a more positive influence on academics, including acquiring knowledge, determining educational goals, interpersonal skills and effort set forth in a student’s studies. However, the decrease is so miniscule that it’s almost not worth noting and with the heavy amounts of people who are switching to online; statistics are changing all the time.

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Heavy Increase in Online Enrollment

Online student enrollment rates are drastically moving upward in all schools who offer online education. Most of these schools have begun to take heavy precautions, offering a lot of assistance to online students, in order to prevent their graduation rates from dropping due to the heavy increase in online students around the globe. Education is definitely very heavily moving in the direction of modern technology. Age old universities that existed before electricity are moving into the age of technology, creating record amounts of online students.

So many of the schools that offer online education are changing the ways in which they do things and offering more help to all of their students, especially those who are online. Graduation rates vary largely between schools, however it has been noted that in many of them, the online courses have a slightly less graduation rate. But you must argue whether these particular schools are offering their online learners the same opportunities that the traditional learners have, which is a tactic many modern colleges have adapted to. If they are offering students the same opportunities, what about their counseling department?

There are many factors that tie into comparing online and traditional graduation rates. It’s almost unfair to compare the two.

Factors worth Noting

An important detail to take into consideration, when looking at graduation rates among online students, is the fact that many online students are not attending college online with the intention of graduating with a degree in anything at all. Some are attending to better their education by taking only a few courses pertaining to their career path or goals in life; courses that would fluff their resume well, making it look attractive to potential employers. Some are even taking courses to better their knowledge so in turn, they can encourage their employers to increase their wage. So, this begs the question, are these students part of the non-graduating numbers?

Simple factors have a huge effect on a school’s graduation rate, whether they are online or traditional; factors such as whether the student was informed, yet entertained by the instructor in class or how well they get along with the students in their class. Students tend to gravitate toward the method of teaching they prefer and desire. So when a student chooses online learning, he or she may very well be completely able to handle it. However, if a student who isn’t sure fails when taking online courses, it adds to the graduation rate numbers without consideration for the situation. Statistics are based on numbers, not situations, so comparing online and traditional learning is a difficult task indeed. If you took all the students in the world and tested their specific abilities (if only such a test existed) and then placed all the students who were better at online courses where they were comfortable and placed all the students who were better at traditional courses where they were comfortable, you’d have exceedingly better statistics. However, if you added up the number of students who tried online and quit because it wasn’t something they could do and then grouped that number with the amount of students who drop out for a graduation rate total, you’d have very poor statistics indeed. It all depends on the choice and style of learning pertaining to each student.

Although studies have been performed, it may be wise to take them lightly. Whether you learn well online or in a class environment, either way can produce quite successful outcomes. It is recommended, if you are unsure of what type of learning best suits you that you take both types of classes to test your abilities early on when courses are easier, so that you can decide whether or not online or traditional college class learning is for you.

Students who are self-motivated and geared toward a planned future and those who are determined and independent, who don’t have issues reading and learning on a computer away from the instant help of an instructor may have no issues learning as online students. However, those who enjoy group interaction, direct instruction from a teacher, as well as those who have a difficult time staying motivated or are easily distracted, may benefit more from traditional classroom learning.