Career and employment goals continue to be one of the top reasons students pursue online education, according to an annual report recapping online education trends.

A full 69 percent of surveyed online students say employment is their primary goal for enrolling in an online education program, according to the Online Education Trends Report from BestColleges.com.

Related: 7 myths about online learning in higher ed

This year’s report includes candid feedback from more than 450 school administrators and 1,500 students.

A survey reveals 7 online learning trends--is your program seeing the same trends?

Students are grouped into categories extending beyond the age-based labels of traditional and nontraditional:

  • Aspiring academics are ages 18-24 and are focused on academic studies
  • Coming of Age students are 18-24 and are exploring college academics, social offerings, and a variety of activities
  • Academic Wanderers are older students who know the advantages of a college degree but are undecided about academic and career goals and how to achieve them
  • Career Starters encompass a wide age range and are interested in college as a path to a specific career
  • Career Accelerators are older students with some college and job experience interested in college to advance in their current field
  • Industry Switchers are older students with some college and job experience interested in transitioning to a new career field

A steady theme in online education trends is cost and financial concerns. Those concerns continue to be students’ biggest challenges when choosing an online program. As in previous surveys, students identified the top two most challenging aspects of making decisions about online education as “estimating annual costs” and “applying for financial aid and identifying sufficient funding sources.”

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura http://twitter.com/eSN_Laura


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