The University of Phoenix, which focuses in online learning, is effectively the largest school in the U.S., with an enrollment of more than 300,000 students. Many higher education institutions are worried that the convenience and affordability of massive online courses may soon outweigh that of a traditional residential learning experience.
A 2011 Pew Research Center study found in a survey of college presidents that 77 percent of respondents said their institution offered online course offerings. Half said they believe most students at their schools will be enrolled in at least some online classes in the next 10 years.
But by emphasizing practical skills and a well-rounded experience more than just grades, an on-campus education is often billed as the better choice. The tools that make online classes so convenient — additional resources, practice questions, group forums — are underused by professors, even in regular classrooms. Integrating online elements is an important way to create a true, well-rounded educational experience.
Tuition rates for online courses at Ithaca College are the same as for on-campus ones. The cost of one credit at the college is $1,232, meaning a typical three-credit course would cost $3,696. Online classes also still limit the number of students per class.
However, Syracuse University, which charges a comparable $1,249 per credit hour, offers online credits for $679. Syracuse’s distance learning degree program offers students the opportunity to complete undergraduate degrees by taking courses online through the university. As Ithaca College expands its online courses with IC 20/20 it should take care to remain competitively affordable.
Online education will flourish no matter what higher education does to package itself with a neat, “better learning experience” tag. The college might be shaping initiatives based on online learning to compete and offer the best of both worlds, but it must make its prices comparable to other online classes.