The growth of online/distance learning has exploded in the last few years. The majority of higher education institutions now offer online/distance courses, whether they are full online programs or hybrids – a combination of face-to-face and online courses. The need for specialized training and flexibility and an increased usage of the Internet have fueled this growth in online/distance education.
In the past, many considered an 18- to 25-year-old attending a four-year college full time a traditional college student. This has changed. Today, more students age 25 and older with jobs and families attend higher education institutions. These new students need easy access and flexibility when it comes to their educations. What does this mean for the career college sector?
Interestingly enough, according to “Entering the Mainstream: The Quality and Extent of Online Education in the United States, 2003 and 2004,” a report by the Sloan Consortium, the largest growth of online enrollments was in private, for-profit institutions. In fact, in 2004, 88.6 percent of private, for-profit schools offered at least one online course – an increase from 44.9 percent in 2003. Anticipating growth rates greater than 40 percent, for-profit institutions are expecting the largest growth in online learning, according to the Sloan Consortium report.
Taking into account that 67 percent of career college students are considered independent, according to the Foundation’s 2005 Fact Book: A Profile of Career Colleges and Universities, the growth of online/distance programs can provide additional opportunities for these students. With the added opportunities comes the need for extra funding.
In the past year or so, I have received numerous inquiries regarding distance/online education, which also makes me believe that online learning in private, for-profit institutions has grown immensely. In fact, every day I receive e-mails from students wanting to know if the Foundation provides scholarships for online programs. As a result of the growth of online/distance learners, the many inquiries and need for extra funding, the Foundation has launched a new award program for these students.
The Imagine America Online award program builds upon the Foundation’s award-winning Imagine America scholarship program, which each year has helped thousands of high school seniors attend career colleges. Any qualified prospective enrolling online/distance learner attending a participating Imagine America career college is eligible for this $1,000 career education award. If you or someone you know has decided to study through an online/distance program, our award program can help you financially. To apply, visit our scholarship web site, www.imagine-america.org, and under “Online Students/Distance Learners” click on Apply.
If your school is a private postsecondary institution accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, you can also participate in the program. For a modest annual participation fee, your career college can take part in this exciting new award program. Why, you ask? By participating you can attract new students to your school, and your modest contribution will support an innovative new aid program that recognizes the importance of continued education.
For more information about the Imagine America Online award program, visit www.imagine-america.org. To register your college, please contact Foundation staff member Torian Brown at 202.336.6719.