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The Causes of the Increased Online Student Population
The growth of technology has undeniably evolved society today. Advancements have created a lifestyle that caters to people by providing ultimate convenience and efficiency. The education system has recognized this trend, and has proven to evolve with the same approach. According to the Babson Survey Research Group, “Over 6.1 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2010 term, an increase of 560,000 students over the previous year.” These rising statistics root from the students’ ability to control factors such as time, learning style, and money, vastly changing the idea of school and consequently becoming more appealing to students.

Most students enroll in online courses because of the freedom to customize their schedule according to their lifestyle. It offers flexibility to those who may have other commitments, and do not have the luxury to be a full time student. According to Malcom Forbes, the demographics of online learners show that 81% are employed, and the average age of students is 34 years old. These statistics indicate that most students have families to take care of or other demanding obligations. With schools offering online courses, these students now qualify for higher education that would have been once denied due to unfortunate circumstances of life. Amanda Paulson states that, “Fifty-four percent cited the need to work as the major reason they left school.” These conflicted students no longer have to choose, but have the option to work and earn a degree at the same time.

While some students’ dilemmas are work or school, some simply prefer online courses. As children, it has been emphasized that every one is unique. In the same way, every student has different learning styles. Authors Davison M. Mupinga, Robert T. Nora, and Dorothy Carole Yaw conclude that most online students are visual learners as well as self-motivated learners. A personality test performed on 131 students enrolled in an online class suggests that most online learners tend to be introverted. Studies done by Ruey S. Shieh, Edith Gummer, and Maggie Niess furthermore prove that introverted students can achieve and contribute more in these non-traditional classroom settings because “student-instructor interaction is encouraged and timely feedback is given” to each individual student. Students that are less outspoken have the opportunity to voice their opinion without any kind of social anxiety. With the same idea, students with disabilities personally benefit. Today, studies done by Malcom Forbes state that there are 49 million Americans identified as disabled. Of those 49 million, only a third pursue secondary school. Additionally, the same study proves that enrollment of military students is increasing. Forbes states, “The G.I. Bill 2.0 was recently updated so that those in the military may receive the standard living stipend for online learning full-time.” The idea is to provide opportunities to any one who is willing to learn through the advanced system of education, and for the benefit of the general population.

Not all students seek enrollment in online courses for flexibility or for a more compatible learning environment, but for financial reasons. With the economy falling and tuition rising, online learning is the overall cheaper alternative. Online courses do not require room and board, living, and travel expenses traditional students need. A reliable computer, Internet access, and any books that the course may require are the only essentials of an online student. According to the statistics on Collegeboard.org, room and board expenses have increased by 4.0% in the last year and accumulate to about $8,887 a year for a student attending a 4-year in state institution. However, Students are not the only victims of these concerns. Colleges are suffering because funds are being cut. An article written by Ray Pastore and Alison Carr-Chellman...
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