What has Changed in Online Bachelor's Degree Programs?
Southern New Hampshire University | November 18, 2015 - Online bachelor’s degree programs have evolved since their beginnings 20-something years ago. But the focus of them is still the same: to provide busy adult learners with the opportunity to achieve their goals by earning career-focused degrees with the flexibility their lives need. And as more students fit into this category, the need to educate and prepare them for their careers increases.
“Today, the majority of students are not first-time full-time freshmen studying on a campus,” said Kathleen S. Ives, CEO and executive director of the Online Learning Consortium, an organization devoted to advancing the quality of online learning. “Many learners are delaying college education for a variety of reasons – like joining the military or obtaining real-world experiences through employment or travel – which is driving the average undergraduate age to 25-plus.”
Recognizing this demand 20 years ago, Southern New Hampshire University’s pioneering online expansion came at the request of the military. Internet-based distance learning allowed military students the opportunity to prepare themselves for their transition to civilian life, bettering their chances at obtaining fulfilling employment.
As the face of what the typical college student looks like has changed, so has online learning. And SNHU is leading that change, in an effort to provide affordable, accessible education to everyone.
Tuition is a major reason more and more people are opting for online bachelor’s degree programs. SNHU keeps costs low, and the university announced earlier this year that it would hold its online tuition rates for the fourth consecutive year. At $960 per undergraduate course, its rates are among the lowest in the nation. In addition, SNHU provides active-duty military servicemembers and spouses with a 30 percent discount.
Another change in online bachelor’s degree programs is in how they’ve kept up with the demands of the workforce. With double-digit growth projected in the healthcare industry (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), SNHU took note and created programs that could fill those open positions, such ashealthcare administration, health information management, public health and nursing.
Similarly, as some of today’s hottest jobs require STEM-related skills – and the BLS estimates double-digit growth here as well – SNHU meets students’ needs with degrees such as data analytics, information technologies with a concentration in cyber security and environmental science with a concentration in geospatial technologies.
Due to a steady flow of new program launches, the offerings for SNHU’s online bachelor’s degree programs now totals over 100. That number continues to go up year after year, as the university works with subject matter experts to create relevant courses and programs. The course content is then presented to students by instructors who have years of real-world experience in that particular field, ensuring that students meet program outcomes that will help them succeed after graduation.
As enrolling in online bachelor’s degree programs becomes the norm, it makes it easier for students with real-life obligations – namely work and family – to take on an additional responsibility. Current online students find support in the SNHU community no matter how far they live from the university’s main campus in Manchester, NH. From academic and career advisors to faculty to SNHUconnect, a support system is in place to help these students achieve their goals.
Arlene Armas, who was one of SNHU’s first graduates of its then-new BA in Graphic Design and Media Arts program in 2014, knew the online format was right for her. “After working in the education field for many years, I felt it was finally time to go back to school and finish my degree,” she said. “However, this time, I just could not see myself attending a traditional brick and mortar school.” Armas regularly kept in touch with SNHU’s academic advising team, which she found both enthusiastic and supportive. When she finished her degree, she did take advantage of that one “traditional” experience – she traveled 1,500 miles with her mother, husband and daughter to attend graduation and tour the campus. Arlene soon after earned a promotion thanks to her degree.
Another member of the class of 2014, Christy Breede, began one of SNHU’s online bachelor’s degree programs to change her career path. A single mother outside Pittsburgh, PA, she had previously received her associate degree in criminal justice. When she accepted a job that involved less travel and became the office manager, she found herself interested in HR, pursuing SNHU’s BS in Business Studies with a concentration in Human Resource Management. When juggling everything got tough, Breede's advisor reached out. “I have found that my academic advisor, James, is more than just an ordinary advisor, because he was also my cheerleader through all this,” she said. “I believe the struggle of being a full-time mom, full-time employee and full-time college student is well worth every minute.”
Southern New Hampshire University is one of the fastest-growing universities in the country with more than 70,000 online students. Being a private, nonprofit and accredited institution makes it more desirable to so many students currently choosing to finish their degree. The next undergraduate term start is Nov. 30, 2015. Find your bachelor’s degree program.