Online vs. On-campus: The Adult Learner

Students have increasingly chosen online education in recent years. In fact, online enrollment is now growing at a faster rate than traditional, on-campus enrollment.  Higher education is expanding on all fronts, but especially for adult learners, as less undergraduate students are of traditional college age. The education system is accommodating the needs of modern students with the flexibility and affordability of online degrees at the forefront, such as programs with Notre Dame College online. There are more options than ever for adult learners who are either beginning or continuing their college education.

Online and on-campus

More students are choosing online programs vs. on-campus

Value of Online Education

The following reported trends in online education in the U.S. are directly applicable to current and prospective adult learners:

  • Once they have experienced online education, students are more likely to enroll in the future.
  • Students choose online programs quickly once they have decided to continue their education.
  • A significant number of students do not consider traditional, campus education. They instead solely plan on completing their degree through an online program.
  • The biggest advantages of online education are the flexibility and affordability they provide students.
  • Most students prefer academic terms that are shorter than the traditional, 15-week semester. Instead, they prefer terms of between 6 and 12 weeks.
  • Reputation and price are important factors when considering online institutions.
  • The majority of online students attend nonprofit institutions.
  • Business is by far the most popular field of study for both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Bachelor’s and master’s degrees are the most popular degree choices.
  • Students who have completed their program of study consider it a good investment of their time and money. Many have already been employed in new jobs or have received raises and promotions.

Areas of Study

Though business is overwhelmingly the most popular online degree choice for students, other programs are experiencing increased enrollment as well. Education, psychology and health care are the strongest topics for study among online students. Overall, the online degree programs are as follows:

The variety of popular degree choices gives you several institutions to choose from when it comes to enrolling in an online program. This list is by no means exhaustive, as online degree programs are constantly expanding and institutions are always adding more options for students.

Where to Study

Location does make a difference to student when it comes to choosing an institution for online study. Most students live within 100 miles of the closest campus or service center of the institution in which they have enrolled. Some of the advantages to this approach include proximity to campus, regional alumni and employers who are familiar with the institution. As more colleges and universities expand their online offerings, it is likely that the institution you would prefer to attend has the program you are looking for.

The institution’s reputation is the most important factor to students when choosing an online program. Affordability, flexibility, transferable credits and advising are also very important to students. Because reputation is the most important factor, several aspects go into determining whether an institution has the standing that students desire. Some of these factors are as follows:

  • Accreditation
  • Quality of faculty
  • Recommendation from others
  • Campus
  • High ranking
  • High admission standards
  • Alumni accomplishments
  • Public status
  • Strong employer ties

Consider these factors when researching and choosing the online institution for you.

Why Online?

There are many reasons for adult learners to choose online education over traditional classroom learning. Of course, the most compelling explanations are the flexibility and affordability that completing your degree online allows. Other reasons include accelerated programs that fast-track your education and the wide variety of degree options available online. Students also choose an online education because they can learn at their own pace—because you are in charge of when and how much to study, you can be sure you are getting a clear grasp of the material.

Notre Dame College (NDC) has a clear understanding of the benefits of online education for adult learners. We work hard to ensure that our programs reflect the needs of online students. Our online tools enhance courses to make them more effective, and our flexible programs take your busy schedule into account. No matter where you want to go professionally, NDC can help you get there. For more information about NDC’s degree options, visit our Online Programs page.