New Data About Online College Students Available
Online degrees continue to gain acceptance among prospective students and higher education leadership. More and more colleges and universities have initiated and now offer online programs in greater numbers of subject areas and across multiple degree levels. Online learning has become mainstream. It is estimated that 3.4 million college students were engaged in fully online programs in 2014 – representing almost 17 percent of all college students. While growth cannot be expected to persist forever at the rapid rate of recent years, the number of students seeking online education continues to increase from year to year. Some project that online enrollment will make up close to 25 percent of all students by 2020. And, of course, the competition among providers of online education has become more intense.
Discover what online students are looking for in the fourth annual Online College Students report, developed by Learning House and Aslanian Market Research. “Online College Students 2015: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences” examines findings from a survey of 1,500 prospective, current and recently graduated fully online students.
Some key findings include:
- Diversification is key. Online students, like the rest of the higher education population, are not a monolith. Understanding different preferences and using a variety of strategies to reach them both in the classroom and through marketing is essential.
- The bar has been raised. As students have become more adept with learning online, they expect processes and policies tailored toward their needs. Policies that once were considered nice to have, such as generous transfer policies and streamlined admissions policies, are now necessities.
- Affordability resonates. Students report that affordable tuition is a critical decision-making factor, with 45 percent choosing the most inexpensive institution to attend. Marketing messages that stress the theme of affordability appear to be effective.
- The local is global. Despite the touted benefits of learning anywhere, online learners tend to stay close to home, with 65 percent living within 100 miles of their online institution.
- Blended institutions are gaining traction. Typically, learning has been divided into fully on campus or fully online. A significant number of online students, however, expressed interest in learning online but having on-campus opportunities, such as internships. This new model may be a good way to expand the online student population.