Cost continues to be one of students’ biggest concerns when it comes to making decisions about online education, according to a new survey about the state of online learning.
Surveyed students said cost estimates, finding funding sources, and navigating the financial aid process is confusing and challenging.
Seventy-two percent of students said job and employments goals are the primary drivers of their enrollment, including transitioning to a new career field (36 percent) and earning academic credentials in a current field of work (32 percent).
The 2017 Online Education Trends Report from BestColleges.com surveyed more than 300 school administrators and 1,500 students to gain information about current experiences in online education.
Next page: Why did students select their specific online education program?
Students also said they struggled to find sufficient information about academic requirements, contact a real person to ask detailed questions about specific programs, find information about how graduates fared in the workplace, and find a program that met their needs and interests.
Fifty-six percent of students currently enrolled in online or blended-learning programs said they still visit campus.
Students said they selected an online-degree program over an on-campus degree program due to their existing commitments, such as work or family, that do not allow for campus-based attendance (50 percent); employer or incentive partnerships (20 percent); online learning was the only way to pursue their chosen field (20 percent); or the reputation of a specific school (7 percent).
A vast majority of surveyed administrators (98 percent) said they’ve found that the demand for online education has stayed consistent or increased over the past few years, but 60 percent said they do not plan to change their budgets for online-program development in the next year.
Sixty-five percent of administrators said they consider the needs of local employers and/or the general employment or job-market trends or forecasts when designing a new online program.
Recruitment remains an obstacle, however, and marketing new online programs to prospective students and meeting recruitment goals is seen as the biggest challenge to offering an online program.
Students said they want more outcomes data–77 percent of schools reported that students are asking for placement or employment rates in addition to other outcome data, such as completion rates (58 percent) and post-graduate salaries (48 percent).