The changing face of the American student: The growth of online learning

Posted: October 29, 2018 | Word Count: 572
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Today’s college students are just as likely to be moms and dads themselves, full-time and part-time employees or members of the U.S. armed forces. Many students juggle work and family, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which found that 62 percent of students work full- or part-time, and 29 percent have at least one dependent. Needing flexibility and variety in course offerings, more students are turning to online learning to design a path that fits their lifestyle.

As a result, online learning is seeing significant growth. A recent study found more than 6 million students take online courses across the U.S., and that number continues to rise. At ASU Online, programs have grown significantly, with a 60 percent increase in freshman enrollment since fall 2016 to more than 35,000 students in over 175 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. As part of ASU EdPlus, created to advance inclusion, efficiency and innovation, the online program implements technologies students need to succeed, paired with committed coaches and academic advisors.

“At ASU, we work diligently to lay the right groundwork for each student at a personal and individual level because we know there is no silver bullet to student success,” said Leah Lommel, chief operating officer of ASU Online. “Each learner is unique — what works for one may not work for another. This reality requires a tireless commitment to innovation on the part of higher education.”

Career success

Access to higher education remains the best pathway to career success, directly impacting employment opportunities and wages. The Center on Education and the Workforce found that bachelor’s degree holders earn 31 percent more than workers with an associate’s degree and 74 percent more than those with a high school diploma. Further, emerging technologies and the changing nature of industries have created a demand for new types of skilled workers.

Higher ed programs need to be flexible and adaptable, allowing students to study during the hours — or minutes — that fit their schedules. With online programs, students can gain practical knowledge throughout their program that can be immediately applied on the job, making them even more valuable in their current roles. As online programs continue to expand, students are more closely able to map coursework to their desired field of work.

Support structure is key to success

Adoption of online learning is fueled by the fact that universities are discovering that it can be just as effective as face-to-face learning. However, support and guidance are essential to success. From strong faculty support to success coaches and career advisors, universities providing high-touch student services throughout a student’s journey see the best outcomes.

For students stepping back into school after many years, support and encouragement are key. The ASU Online Student Success Center, which pairs each student with a personal success coach, has seen enrollment scale five-fold. Coaches are a lifeline as students juggle life with studying and coursework. Facilitating conversations with students related to academic and personal goals, and career aspirations, coaches offer support, help students overcome obstacles and connect them to other campus resources.

Online learning allows universities to meet students where they are, academically and personally. Today’s student is approaching education from a new standpoint, with different requirements and needs. The power of innovation in online learning means that each student can complete a degree in a way that was simply not possible before.

Interested in learning more about ASU Online’s programs? Check out https://asuonline.asu.edu/online-degree-programs to explore the range of options ASU Online offers.

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