For the past six years, enrollment in online classes has been growing at a much faster rate than overall enrollment in higher education. More than 25% of students now take at least one online course.
A recent study found that over 4.6 million students took at least one online class in the fall of 2008; a 17% increase from the year before. Compare that 17% to the 1.2% increase seen in overall enrollment over the year and it is evident just how popular online education is becoming.
Demand for higher education has risen during the economic downturn as the decreased availability of good jobs encourages more people to seek education and training. With many people having been laid off over the recession, many are taking the opportunity to go back to school and reeducate themselves. The availability of getting an education online is useful for those who have family obligations, as well as those who are still employed, as it allows the student to study on their own schedule.
Sure going to school online has its pros and cons, but it is the demand for online education that is driving increases in college enrollment numbers. Perhaps further advancement in online education can help curtail overcrowding on campus.
As college enrollments continue to increase, especially at community colleges, so does the demand for financial aid. More students means more pressure on financial aid. Increases in Pell Grants are helping many be able to afford college, but all at the expense of the taxpayer.