The sixth annual Online College Students report, developed by The Learning House, Inc. and Aslanian Market Research, shares an interesting, albeit intuitive in hindsight, findings on prospective and recently graduated online college students. The findings points out to the importance of the online “social presence” via communication and being part of an online community, expanding opportunities of online education, students’ remorse in buying an online course, and more importantly online students’ growing knowledge and preference of competency-based education.
Key findings include:
- They Want to Be Part of a Community. More than half of respondents say interaction with classmates and instructors is important to them, and about a quarter say online courses could be improved by more contact with their instructors and more engagement with classmates. Fifty-nine percent travel to campus between one and five times per year, for reasons such as meeting their instructor or meeting with a study group.
- Students Are Expanding Their Search to More Schools. While the majority of students continue to stay close to home, the number of schools students consider has expanded. More students contacted or requested information from three or more schools (52 percent), an increase from 2016 (29 percent). The number of students considering only one institution fell from 30 percent to 18 percent.
- They Experience Buyer’s Remorse. While online students tend to make their decisions quickly, 59 percent would change some part of their search for an online program if they had to do it over again. Twenty-three percent of current and past online college students wished they had contacted more schools during the selection process, whereas others wished they learned more about the tuition and fees (17 percent) or their financial aid package (16 percent).
- They Have High Interest in Competency-Based Education. Online students are increasingly aware of competency-based programs. The percentage of respondents who say they have not heard of competency-based education has decreased, with 27 percent reporting no awareness of CBE in 2017, down from 35 percent in 2013.