With college education set to rise at a rate of 7% annually, the cost of a college degree will be double what it is today in just a decade. This means that public schools may cost over $40,000 a year, matching their private counterparts today. With the exorbitant costs, many families cannot afford traditional college programs and have started considering some alternatives.
One popular alternative is online education. While there may be many for profit colleges trying to take advantage of this trend, it is becoming a reputable option for many popular universities across the country.
One example is the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, which offers partial and exclusively online education. Students can enroll in their Hybrid program, which allows them to take a combination of both on-campus and online courses. By offering online classes, the university is saving money on facilities and faculty time, which it passes down to students. Students can also save because they don’t need to commute to school to attend the class and can take the class on their own schedule so they can maintain a career.
Even Boston University offers an online curriculum that allows students to complete an entire degree online. This bestows the credentials of a nationally recognized institution without leaving home. Partnered with Barnes and Noble, they offer a sophisticated system of online book ordering which permits the selection of used or new materials and required or supplemental texts. The cost per credit hour at B.U. this year is $1,276, while the cost of taking courses online, per credit hour, is around $750. If the standard course load per semester is 15 hours, that’s a savings of around $8,000 per semester or $16,000 per year.
Online education does not diminish the quality of the education or the caliber of the student either. In fact, it’s proving just the opposite. A 2009 study by the U.S. Department of Education has shown that “on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” Most of the study focused on college students over a twelve-year period and showed that, while the average classroom student falls into the 50th percentile, the average online student falls in the 59th percentile.
Online education also opens up the US education system to the rest of the world. Students will no longer need to obtain visas to study in the US and students overall may soon start to have a much more culturally diverse college experience.