But not all online institutions are struggling to replicate the success rate of face-to-face colleges and universities.

“Generally the results online are better than one might think,” Schroeder said. “At our campus, we find that on-campus and online students in programs with online majors average degree completion at nearly the same rate at six years after entry.”

A New America Foundation report, “Next Generation Universities,” released last year said there were a number of universities leveraging online learning to increase enrollments without sacrificing retention.

The University of Texas at Arlington is using online courses and academic partnerships to enroll more than 5,000 nursing school students without, the report said, seeing a dip in course completion. Nearly 30 percent of Arlington’s growing student body is enrolled solely online.

Meanwhile, the University of Central Florida has used online technologies to help with a growing demand for its courses. About 2,700 of the university’s students are enrolled simultaneously in an online, mixed-mode, or face-to-face class during a semester.

Thirty-two percent of courses there are now online, the report said. If the courses were in a physical location, they would require five classroom buildings.

(Next page: How you can improve retention rates)


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