There is a wave that has happened over the last several years when it comes to the higher education system. More and more people are graduating and heading into adulthood with more debt than ever.
As of 2020, there is over $1.7 trillion of student loan debt in the United States. Those who are 35-years-old have, on average, the highest debt of around $42,600.
But now, high school graduates are taking a second look into alternatives to start their careers through the use of online classes.
How is virtual learning changing the higher education system?
Remote Learning for Accessibility
Being able to complete online courses from anywhere in the world is incredibly appealing, especially to someone who has just graduated from high school. It allows them the ability to travel or find work while gaining their independence after graduation. They no longer have to consider putting their education on the back burner.
There is also a huge benefit with remote learning that provides significantly more accessibility for those who have particular handicaps that inhibit them from attending classes in person. This applies not only to students, but to teachers as well.
Certifications and Licenses
Affordability is by far the biggest incentive for opting out of traditional schooling. This is especially true for professions that have attributed to their overwhelming debt. Paramedics, attorneys, accountants, and several other fields of practice require additional education each year to keep up with various licenses or certifications to qualify them to practice.
Continuing education units (CEUs) are saving people a substantial amount of money and are still a means of accreditation like a typical college or university. CEUs are equivalent to ten hours of participation within a specific program. The courses range from $100 to as little as $10. And because many of these courses are available online through virtual classrooms with flexible scheduling, people are able to maintain their current full-time jobs.
Putting the Students First
It’s no surprise that young adults pursuing their higher education are looking to have a more intimate and personalized class structure. The average community college student size is around 4,348 students, according to Community College Review. Virtual classrooms have created significantly more inclusivity while still providing anonymity.
Online discussion boards and chat rooms offer students a chance to contribute with their peers and instructors without any preconceived knowledge of age, race, or gender. Those who struggle with social anxiety are able to find confidence in sharing their ideas and opinions without having to stand up in front of a classroom of hundreds. Instead, the primary focus is on building a collaborative and communicative class.
Technology Is Paving the Way
Technology has also changed virtual learning to cater to the student’s strengths and weaknesses. With online test-taking and assignments, artificial intelligence (AI) determines where a student continues to struggle. It then uses this information to ensure that more of the content within the course is directed to help them improve in those areas. Not to mention there is instant feedback after someone takes a test, so they no longer have to wait for assignments to be graded and returned.
Students also have access to more resources than ever before. Online databases with scholarly articles allow students to work on extensive research and dissertations for their higher education without needing to physically be in any one location. You can access materials from other institutions around the world that wouldn’t have been accessible otherwise.
To sum it up, the benefits of virtual online education after high school continue to entice more students. The amount of flexibility with their time management, being able to learn at their own pace, and extreme affordability are just a few.
To say that traditional schooling would be obsolete is probably out of the question. But we will see how the higher education system continues to transform, particularly as we navigate what post-pandemic systems will look like.