Why it’s either death or moving online

Local student shortages, demand for flexibility are pushing smaller colleges to move online

online-colleges-learningColby-Sawyer College is a classic New England school, with 176 years of undergraduate history amid 200 acres of brick buildings and tree-lined walks, nestled in a pretty New Hampshire town.

So why would anybody want to get a Colby-Sawyer degree via web browser, never touching the campus?

To save about $100,000, for one thing: The school’s first online-only bachelor’s degree programs will cost about one-quarter as much as a degree “on the ground.” It will also require a lot less commuting and provide more flexible schedules.

On the flip side, why would a private college older than 26 states want to offer online degrees, upending an educational experience that has succeeded for so long and cutting its income from some students?

To save itself, potentially.

(Next page: The new economic realities)