Online college enrollment on the rise

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In recent years, online college has increased in popularity, with an overall growth in enrollment of about three percent since the fall of 2021. The increase is caused by a plethora of reasons, the COVID-19 pandemic being at the forefront. In the initial lockdown, schools across the country were forced to close and switch to online learning. This both incentivized and required that many students and teachers think outside of the box.

Typical teaching and learning styles, which were once effective, became practically obsolete in the virtual setting. Conversely, many students found a love for online learning and the freedoms that come with a virtual classroom. In the New York Times article, “With Online Learning, ‘Let’s Take a Breath and See What Worked and Didn’t Work,’” published in October 2022, the spike in online college enrollment is addressed and attributed to a number of benefits associated with online schooling.

The article states that online college can speed up graduation, as courses can be self paced, and college faculty often prefer hybrid classes. The hybrid model allows for more flexibility in learning and incorporating technology. Furthermore, online schooling can be much more affordable for families than in-person college, which can include additional expenses such as housing, meals and other on-campus facilities.

“The world has not gone back to zero, but has settled somewhere in the middle where we’re coming into a blended future,” said Anant Agarwal, a chief platform officer of the online program management company, 2U, in an interview with the New York Times. 

Although in-person learning is in full swing across the country once again, as the COVID-19 pandemic has plateaued, online learning will likely sustain its popularity as an alternative convenient, affordable and safe way of receiving a college education.