Which Factors are College Students Considering When Searching Online Programs? – Part 2


By: Christopher Tashjian May 21, 2018

part one of this series, we learned that online students are cost conscious and are quick decision makers when it comes to deciding where to apply. Today let’s look at ways online students engage with their studies and some specifics they’re looking for in their classes. If you want an in-depth look at the behaviors and attitudes of today’s students, get our free 50-page download 2017 Online College Students co-published by Aslanian Market Research and The Learning House.

Download the full Online College Students Report here.

Even Though They’re Online, They Crave Community

We know that more than half of surveyed students said interactions with instructors and classmates are important to them. This feeling of community can be motivating to your online students. That’s why 86 percent of students said they would be willing to log-in at specific times to join required discussions or lectures and 76 percent were interested in online office hours so students can engage with instructors. More than half of respondents say interaction with classmates and instructors is important to them, and about a quarter say online courses could be improved by more contact with their instructors and more engagement with classmates. Fifty-nine percent travel to campus between one and five times per year, for reasons such as meeting their instructor or meeting with a study group.With so many students interested in engaging with their courses, it’s important to offer options in your online program’s structure that allow for these interactions.

They Want Quick Courses

We know online students make their decisions quickly, but they’re also looking for quick programs that give them the same academic content in a condensed format. More than half (51 percent) of the students we surveyed were currently enrolled in courses that were eight weeks or less. However, the amount of time students spent working on each class, including preparation and class activities, varied greatly among students. We always recommend that you are reviewing course design standards and survey students for amount of time invested in course activities to ensure that online courses are creditworthy.

They’re Interested in Competency-Based Learning

Competency-based learning is growing in popularity and more and more students are either curious about or actively enrolled in such programs. It’s easy to see why. By enabling students to master skills at their own pace, competency-based learning systems can help students obtain their degrees faster and at significant savings.
Among students surveyed, 34 percent are currently enrolled in a competency-based learning program, and another 30 percent said they were “very familiar” such programs.
By adapting your programs to include competency-based pathways you’ll be appealing to the growing segment of students who are seeking this kind of learning opportunity.

They Know Their Career Area, But Still Want Career Services

Online students are likely to have already begun their careers. The biggest reason they’re enrolling in an online program is career advancement, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need career services. In fact, more than three quarters (77 percent) of students said they used career services if their schools offered them. Online students are interested in assistance with resume writing, interviewing skills, networking opportunities, and job searches.We would attribute this unexpectedly high percentage to their reasons for going back to school, with nearly 80% of online college students citing a career-focused reason as their primary motivation for enrolling in their program.

The primary reason online students go to school is career advancement. Most already know their field of study and desired credential; thus, career exploration is not needed as much as assistance with their job search. Career planning services should include resume writing, interviewing skills, internships, externships, networking opportunities, alumni connections, and job search strategies.

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When it comes to online students, once they’re enrolled they’re seeking a sense of community with fellow students, they want quick courses and they want help turning their hard work into advances in their careers. EducationDynamics offers a free enrollment consultation to help you build a custom plan to efficiently grow online enrollments at your institution.

* Download the full Online College Students Report from Aslanian Market Research and The Learning House here: http://learn.dev.propaganda3.com/education-dynamics/online-college-students-2017