Higher learning is many things, but cheap is not one of them. With more and more families unable to send their son or daughter off to college, and more students graduating with staggering debt than ever before, many are feeling that the time has come to find a suitable alternative.
Thankfully, online colleges are picking up a great deal of the slack from traditional colleges. Due in no small part to budget cuts and falling enrollment, there are more and more empty seats in college campuses across the country. As time goes on, online colleges are accounting for a larger percentage of those empty seats.
So what is it about online college that’s drawing so many students away from the campus experience? Quite simply, it comes down to the subject of money. Earning a degree online can appeal to the student with a limited budget. Below we’ll take a look at how that’s come to be.
Accounting for Higher Education
There’s no doubt about it: a college education can be hugely expensive. Where does all the money go, though? For most colleges, a large portion of their budget is allocated to student housing. That includes on-campus dorm rooms, heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, as well as janitorial services. Providing food and health services is also a significant expense, and so those costs are passed along to the students.
Part of the reason why the top online schools are associated with lower costs than their brick-and-mortar counterparts is the fact that they don’t have to account for students physically being in attendance. The technology infrastructure necessary for providing a quality online education can be pricey, but it’s modest compared to running a college campus year-round.
The Cost to the Student
Students at traditional universities – particularly those still living at home – will also encounter a great number of incidental expenses, not the least of which is commuting. Wear and tear on your car can add up over time, and you’ll need to factor the ever-higher cost of gasoline into your budget. Quite simply, there are more reasons than ever before for completing your education from home.
Brick-and-mortar universities have something of a captive audience when it comes to students who live on campus: they are required to take part in on-campus housing and expensive food plans. Students who study online, however, have no such restrictions.
Furthermore, students who attend college online are much better able to continue working a job to support themselves or their family. Because online classes can largely be completed at a pace that’s specifically tailored to the student and their needs, their professional, social and family lives don’t need to suffer as a result.
A Revolution in Progress?
When it comes to getting the best possible education for your money, students everywhere are reconsidering the traditional college route. As with anything, they want to know that they’re paying for what they need and nothing they don’t. This is one of the principle beauties of online college: in stark contrast to most other types of universities, students aren’t left paying for services or facilities that they don’t make use of.
One thing is for certain: online colleges are shaking up higher learning in a big way. What college education looks like ten or even two years from now is as unclear as it is exciting.
Photo Courtesy of 401(K)2013 via Flickr