Is your college considering adding online programs or graduate programs? If not, should you be? Based upon enrollment trends and future projections, the answer is YES. Traditional undergraduate programs will not bring growth to a campus. Diversifying with both online delivery and graduate programs holds a stronger promise of growth.
To explore this opportunity further, consider the following eight facts drawn from the latest available reports of Babson Survey Research Group, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and Ruffalo Noel Levitz.
FACT #1: Despite an overall enrollment decline in higher education, we continue to see modest growth in the number of students who choose to complete courses and entire degree programs via online delivery. Of the 20,207,360 college students enrolled in fall 2014, 5.8 million (28.8 percent) pursued coursework through online delivery formats. That’s an increase of 2.8 percent over fall 2012’s online percentage of 26 percent.
Clearly, if your college has not implemented online courses and programs, you are failing to meet the needs of a growing number of learners. When enrollments from traditional delivery methods slip, turning to alternative delivery modalities makes sense. Students now seek entire degree programs which are offered online. We’ll understand why a little later in this blog as we look at the demographic of this learner.
FACT #2: While online enrollments have grown, graduate enrollments are also experiencing a rebound following a five-year decline from an all-time high of 2,937,011 in 2010:
FACT #3: Graduate students represent a high percentage of the total number of students pursuing courses and programs online. In the fall of 2013, a total of 30.8 percent of all graduate students enrolled in online courses, consisting of 23 percent who pursued their entire programs online and 8 percent who enrolled in at least one online course:
FACT #4: When you move your programs and courses into an online delivery modality, you are able to attract a different type of learner. These learners are most likely to be female, in their mid 20s to mid 50s, married or single with children, Caucasian and African American, study fully online, work full-time, and be enrolled full-time. Based upon national demographics collected by Ruffalo Noel Levitz on over 118,000 students using our Priorities Survey for Online Learners we also know this about the characteristics of the online learner:
- Gender: 69% female; 31% male
- Age: 12% are 24 and under; 29% are 25-34; 28% are 35-44; 22% are 45-54; and 9% are 55 and over
- Ethnicity: 61% Caucasian; 21% African-American; 6% Hispanic; 3% Asian
- Marital status: 29% single; 15% single with children; 17% married; 35% married with children
- Employment: 65% full-time; 13% part-time; 22% not employed