Higher Education

Online class enrollment increases

Local postsecondary institutions see decrease in total enrollment.

March 16, 2018
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(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Online courses from postsecondary institutions offer flexibility, and people are taking advantage of it.

Central Michigan offers 47 various undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs, and concentrations, and more than 100 online classes, according to Lindsay Karmanowski, assistant director of enrollment at the Grand Rapids campus.

“Central Michigan University started offering off-campus courses since the 1970s to meet the needs of a nontraditional campus student and service the educational needs of the military population,” Karmanowski said.

The number of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at Central Michigan in the fall of 2017 fell compared to the year before. In the fall of 2016, 24,445 students enrolled in classes; however, in the fall of 2017, only 23,335 students enrolled.

Nevertheless, enrollment for online classes increased. In the fall of 2016, there were 7,385 students enrolled, and the next fall, that number increased to 8,038 students.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, institutions across the country have been seeing a decline in postsecondary enrollment.

During the 2012-13 school year, 39,301,575 students enrolled in higher educational institutions. The data are based on institutions’ submissions of its enrollment data to the research center that accounts for over 96 percent of enrollments in the U.S.

The latest data posted by NSCRC shows 37,081,463 students enrolled in postsecondary institutions for the 2016-17 school year.

In the state of Michigan, the research center reported 1,091,143 enrolled in classes on campus in 2015-16, but in 2016-17, there were 1,045,528 students enrolled.

Despite an overall decline in postsecondary enrollment, enrollment in online classes has been increasing for over a decade nationally.

Some students who register for classes in traditional classrooms take at least one online class, while there are some students who solely take online classes.

At Hope College in Holland, the average age of students who enroll in online classes is 22.8 years old. Jennifer Fellinger, Hope’s vice president of public affairs and marketing, said the college started offering online classes in 2006.

“We saw that there was student interest for online courses, and we had a faculty member who was willing to oversee the process and train other faculty members on how to convert a traditionally taught course to an online course while maintaining academic integrity and rigor,” Fellinger said.

Online classes at Hope College are offered during the summer for three terms — each term is four weeks long — in May, June and July. In 2017, the summer terms had 774 total students enrolled, 490 of which were enrolled in online classes. In the summer of 2016, however, the number of students enrolled online was 479.

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