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Opting out of a traditional postsecondary education

Opting out of a traditional postsecondary education

The “American Dream” usually encompasses moving away from home to attend a four-year college or university. However, community colleges have become a significant competitor for the more traditional universities. Students have opted out, despite the emphasis placed on prestige and opportunity of a four-year school. Online classes have also risen in popularity, with an estimated third of students in the United States registered in online courses. According to a report from the College Board, a 2014 study indicated 42% of all undergraduate students and 25% of full-time undergraduate students were enrolled in community colleges.

So why are students opting for something other than a traditional college path? According to the Princeton Review, the state of today’s economy and the unemployment rate have many students attracted to the lower tuition fees. They also offer ample opportunity to explore a variety of majors within a succinct time period. The classes are said to be more personalized and tailored to the individuals’ needs. The scheduling is also flexible, which can be beneficial for students with family responsibilities or other work engagements.

Dr. Elliot King, a professor of Loyola University Maryland’s Department of Communication, affirmed the effectiveness of online learning for students with other obligations. “The number of students in the 18-22 demographic is shrinking, and the demographics of that ‘traditional’ student is shrinking. People are going to be able to learn online much more effectively than they do in face-to-face situations,” King said.

Community college and online school also offer an opportunity to still attend college for students who may have had a less than average academic record. These students would not be able to seek that opportunity at a traditional college or university.

The traditional idea of postsecondary education involves a four-year college or university. That is what is aspired to, but it is not a realistic option for everyone. An everyman could have the responsibility of a family, or the need to earn a different degree at a point in their career. The benefits of community and online education are clear, with affordability and convenience being a highlight.

Featured Image: Courtesy of The Institute for College Access and Success

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Opting out of a traditional postsecondary education