New Study – Students Prefer Online Classes to Traditional Classes

It’s no secret that online college classes have become more popular over the past decade; the amount of the enrollees has more than doubled each of the past three years and the trend is steadily increasing. According to the News and Sentinel, students are actually showing a tendency of taking online college classes over traditional ones when both methods are available. In fact, it is estimated that one in three students across the nation take at least one distance-learning class per semester due to the sheer convenience of this learning format.

Elaine Allen, a co-author of the 2011 Survey of Online Learning commented, “The rate of growth in online enrollments is ten times that of the rate in all higher education. While growth rates have declined somewhat from previous years, we see no evidence that a dramatic slowdown in online enrollments is on the horizon.”

Previous Results Unreliable

Allen’s study is especially interesting because all the previous data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics took into account all enrollees at each traditional college that offered a distance learning facet. Experts almost unanimously agreed that previous results were certainly inaccurate because a large or some of the students did not live in the immediate area aware the college was located so they had little choice in the matter. In fact, a large portion of online enrollees are students from outside of the United States so this clearly throws off the calculations.

Since the 2011 Survey of Online Learning focused only on students that have the option to take classes on campus or over the Internet, it provides a much clearer overall picture of the popularity of online college classes. It is estimated that over 6 million students have now studied for degree in cyberspace and if these statistics from the study are accurate, there will be plenty more in the future as well.

Reasons for Online College Popularity

Then again, there are numerous reasons why students would not want to attend traditional classes in this day and age. A lot of them simply live too far away from campus or they did not see the point in burning of gas to drive there when classes can be taken from their laptop or smartphone. Others prefer the online format because there is a lot more flexibility when it comes to turning in assignments and taking tests. Whatever the reason, it is hard to argue with the logic of being able to study completely from home and whenever it happens to be convenient.

A large number of distance learners inside the United States simply do not have time to attend traditional classes because they’re working moms and dads who barely have enough time to do anything college-related. This type of student is usually in their 30s or 40s, in the process of paying off a mortgage, and locked into a steady career. While they definitely do not have the time to spare for college, their next promotion usually depends on it so most of them decide to go the distance-learning route. Since online enrollees can graduate up to 50% faster than if they were at a traditional college campus, many of these students end up being big-time winners for choosing a distance education.

The Future of Online Learning

The 2011 Survey of Online Learning also pointed out that many colleges that have never offered online curriculum are finally seeing the benefits of installing such a program. All of a sudden they can recruit students from all over the world instead of just the ones inside their town or county. Since one instructor can literally be teaching hundreds of students at the same time, it simply makes financial sense for them to pursue this type of teaching.

About Keith Koons

Keith is a full-time journalist that focuses almost exclusively on the collegiate world and the value of an education. He is also an online college graduate that has taken courses at over a dozen of the leading distance learning institutions in the country today.