All over the world, the number of people attending schools at different levels assumes a pyramidal shape. There are huge numbers in elementary school, but as they progress, the numbers dwindle, leaving only a few in higher education. In the United States, approximately 65 million students were expected to enroll for K through K12 in the fall of 2015. During the same period, 20.2 million were expected to attend colleges and universities. An estimated 25% of new high school students in the United States are unable to graduate. For new students entering colleges or universities, 1 in 3 is likely not to make it to their sophomore year. This dropout rate hampers national development because many people do not receive the comprehensive training they need to function in society. National development would be greatly enhanced if more adults were educated so that they became functional in society.
I’m not saying that all adults who haven’t been fully educated don’t play important roles in society. There are very important individuals in society who have dropped out of school at some level. Bill Gate, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, for example, dropped out of school at one point. While this list is not exhaustive, the number of people who dropped out of school or decided not to get higher education and yet succeeded is relatively small. For most of those who dropped out or stopped education and failed to succeed in their careers, it was because they lacked the knowledge needed to develop their potential. If you check the history of those who, despite dropping out or dropping out of school, have been successful, you will find that they seem to have found their life’s purpose and thus pursued those goals and, more importantly, received some kind of of education later.
Education, as we all know, is a lifelong activity. At any point in time, whether you dropped out of school or earned honors in your college degree, you would need education. The school leaver who has found a calling or got a job needs education in order to be more productive, the school leaver who has realized the need to go to school but has “grown beyond school age” and wants going to school obviously needs education, executives as well as employees need further education to keep pace with today’s fast changing world and get an increase in wages and status respectively. Somehow, the traditional education-dependent society that we have created for ourselves and consider the ‘best’, limits our pursuit of continuing education. For many people, formal education ended the day they dropped out or graduated from high school, college or university, even though technology allows us to sit in our homes and continue to get a quality education. quality.
When technology – computers and internet connectivity – replaced physical classrooms and made remote study possible in real time, the problem of continuing education for everyone, including the marginalized and the working class, appeared to be solved. It seemed, and still is, that now the teacher does not have to leave his students, apply for study leave or leave to continue his studies. It seemed that the fifty-year-old woman who had dropped out of school several years ago could now walk to school from home and it seemed that the father could learn what her daughter is learning in college using the same device she uses to call her. This is what appeared. Those who dropped out of school due to financial problems and haven’t had a breakthrough since then wouldn’t benefit, and those with the money wouldn’t want to put their money into a certificate that both employers and academics would frown upon. So little seems to have changed for these two groups of people, even though online colleges and universities abound.
Two main problems are to blame. Firstly, online education is too expensive for the target group of students and secondly, there is a perception that online colleges and universities do not provide as holistic education as traditional colleges and universities. As indicated by Ed Vosganian – founder and CEO of College Funding 123, the cost of on-campus undergraduate is estimated at $42,000 while for the same group it cost about $21,000 for online colleges. In comparison we would say that it costs much less to study online. But we must not lose sight of those who mostly enroll in online university. It is those in the middle and lower classes who opt for online universities. They include; the employee who has sacrificed pleasure for a higher qualification in exchange for better wages, the unemployed who wants to acquire employable skills, the dropout who wants to go back to school in the hope that there is a better future, and people who live in the remote part of the world, especially in developing countries, which don’t even have the money to pay taxes and therefore would have to learn and work at the same time. At this $21,000 it’s such huge money, it’s very hard to raise. There are people from the higher income class who enroll in online universities but online learning is not popular among them due to the low prestige and myths associated with online education. Online institutions will tell you that they won’t put anything on your certificate to show that you received a non-traditional education. This type of advertising speaks to how society values online education. Online education is considered a cheap way to get a “watered down” education. Online colleges and universities were until recently considered diploma mills. This perception still exists, even though the empirical evidence tells us that there is no disparity in the quality of students between traditional colleges and universities on the one hand and online colleges and universities on the other. Online universities and colleges are doing their best to make online learning prestigious and lower study costs, but they can’t do it alone. With government intervention online learning can become prestigious and suitable for the lower middle class.
The government should provide a national framework for online education, subsidize accreditation, and grant scholarships and student loans for students in online colleges and universities. A national framework to guide the operations of all online colleges and universities should be established by the state, through the Department of Education or appropriate government agency. This framework, which would be descriptive rather than prescriptive in nature, would describe, for example, the minimum courses to be taken at a given level and how online universities and colleges generally operate without prescribing specific courses or how they operate. Accreditation isn’t just cumbersome for online colleges and universities; it’s also expensive. This cost is passed on to the students, increasing the program fees. If the government decides to absorb half the cost of the accreditation, even though there is no guarantee that program fees will be halved, the program fee would be reduced somewhat. Finally, most students who opt for online colleges and universities do not receive grants and student loans from the state. Those who receive something don’t get huge grants and student loans like their counterparts in traditional colleges and universities. The government should make scholarships and loans available to online college and university students just as it does to traditional college and university students.
The consequences of these interventions would certainly be shocking. Providing a national framework for online education would eliminate the false negative perception people have of online learning. Many think that online learning is easy and also the number of credits acquired is far less than those acquired in traditional learning contexts. This thinking exists because there are some poorly designed online courses where the certificate is awarded after only a couple of assignments have been submitted. Such practices can be stopped when a national framework is developed and operationalized. A national framework will give online learning credibility, because a national standard for online should be met and therefore no online college or university can simply sell certificates. Subsidizing the accreditation will produce three results. The most obvious is that it would reduce program fees because the amount to be transferred to students would be less. Subsidizing accreditation fees would encourage online colleges and universities to seek accreditation from accrediting bodies recognized by the Department of Education or appropriate state agency. While accreditation is not required in some parts of the world, such as the United States, some occupations that require a state license would not accept degrees from unaccredited colleges and universities. Potential online students are usually concerned about whether they can work easily with their certificates. Government intervention would eliminate this concern and also remove the negative perception people have of online education. Government interventions in the form of grants and loans would lighten the financial burden and enable those who until now could not have gone to school to do so. In summary, government intervention would go a long way towards producing an enlightened society by enabling many people to receive higher education.
There are many people who want to get higher education through online colleges and universities so as to gain knowledge and skills or improve their knowledge and skills but cannot do so due to cost or uncertainty of certificate acceptability. Government intervention in the form of a national framework for online universities and colleges, subsidizing accreditation costs and providing scholarships and student loans would open the door for those who want to study from home. Government intervention can provide assurance that online learning is as good as traditional college or university learning and that their certificate would be accepted for jobs requiring a state license. It would ease the pressure on facilities in traditional colleges and universities, produce the educated citizenry needed for national development, and transform the current pyramid shape into a “close” cylinder.
Ed Vosganian (nd). The real price of online college. Retrieved from http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/financial-aid/online-college-degree-cost/.