No longer are online colleges and universities solely an option for busy parents with day jobs, looking to further career and make a better living by continuing where they left off. Even conventional college students are discovering the convenience of earning an online degree and staying home to complete those all-important term papers and take quizzes and examinations. Still, the trend remains the same – returning students, particularly the older ones, are the ones most benefited by the online college setting.
One such school reporting a record number of online students is Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), which now has almost 18 percent of all students taking online courses to complete their associate degrees or technical diplomas. The school has been offering Internet-based courses since 2000, and last school year, 14,146 of a total 78,700 courses were taken online. According to NWTC director of learning support services Anne Kamps, 71 percent of all online students since 2002 have been female, as opposed to the 54-46 female-male ratio in conventional classroom settings. The students who had returned to school via online learning, said Kamps, were an average 12.5 years removed from high school graduation.
According to the most recent Sloan Survey of Online Learning, an approximate 5.5 million individuals in the United States are enrolled in one or more online training courses. Similar to the above trends reported by NWTC, the survey still took into account the phenomenon of online adult education – professionals looking to switch careers or earn a promotion by completing an erstwhile unfinished college education. A list of top ten online colleges and universities was compiled by Sloan, with Kaplan University, the University of Phoenix, Westwood College, DeVry University and Capella University making up the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Walden University, Baker College, American International University, George Washington University and Boston University.