Colleges Responding to Students by Turning to Online Courses

A revolution in higher education seems inevitable. College tuition continues to rise more rapidly than inflation, and as the average income of the American family fell in the wake of the 2008 recession, a college degree became almost entirely unaffordable for an ever larger chunk of the nation's student population, writes Dan Schawbel at Forbes.

Almost everyone is convinced that a big change is on the horizon, although not everyone agrees about what kind of change we'll see. A recent study by the Forbes Magazine in partnership with provides a clue. The report gathered answers from over 1,345 students and found that 50% of those who replied believe that higher education quality can be completely divorced from a physical setting. That means there's more to a good college than a lecture hall.

More than half of the students felt that online colleges are perfectly reputable and nearly 40% believed that the future of higher education is on the internet.

It wasn't a complete rout for online learning, though. The report also found that there are plenty of students who still believe that the best learning takes place in the traditional face-to-face environment.

Students value the benefits of online learning including balancing work and class, flexibility in assignments and lower costs. "As new modes of online higher education develop and students use technology in greater and greater numbers within and for their academic curriculum, it's clear that the desire for relevant 21st century jobs and career experiences go hand-in-hand," says Robin D. Richards, CEO of This is true because more students are doing virtual internships and more employees are working remotely than ever before. As the world becomes more virtual, it will lower costs and allow more students who couldn't afford education or don't want to deal with outrageous students loans to educate themselves.

The report's findings are something to remember, especially since in coming years students will increasingly experience online learning at the college level. Many schools are now considering adding online courses, mandatory or optional, to their offerings to supplement traditionally taught classes.

Soon, students may have a stronger foundation on which to draw conclusions about the long-term viability of higher education over the internet.

As more schools take the plunge, more students will jump on board because they were raised with tech tools and can adapt easier than older generations. This will also make it easier for students who don't want to move but want to attend top tier colleges. There shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to getting an education and not all students will want to take the online option but it should be available.

06 12, 2013
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