Online education on the rise

GraduationThere’s a new trend developing at college campuses all across the country. More and more schools are skipping out on the campus and serving classes straight to the student, online. A prime example of the online education method is Western Governors University – Texas. The online-centric university is a private non-profit school that has taken a successful formula, developed by a coalition of state governors, to provide a wide range of accredited college degrees and make them accessible.

The Texas “campus” launched in the summer of 2011 with approximately 1,600 initial students. By spring of 2012, the number of students swelled to 2,300 students and the tentative count for the start of fall quarter 2012 is over 3,000. The huge increase in numbers maybe in part due to the wide array of degrees available, over 50 in total, ranging from education to information technology.

The flat rate pricing is also very attractive. Unlike standard facilities, cost isn’t measured by credits. 6 months of classes cost roughly $3,000, regardless of how many credits of classes actually taken. It’s possible to complete classes at an accelerated rate and cut the total cost of a degree by a drastic amount compared to a pay by credit system. Mark Milliron, chancellor of WGU Texas believes the growth will only accelerate, “I think probably within five to six years we should be at 20,000 students.”

WGU –Texas may be a private online school with an alternative approach to pricing and education, but don’t confuse it with a for-profit degree farm. Out of all the applications sent into WGU only 35% are accepted. While the WGU system was created to educate residents for reasonable tuition rates and be easily accessible for working adults, it still provides high level education courses. Most applicants either do not meet the minimum level of requirements to be taking college level courses or cannot reasonably show college readiness.

Students who do go on to attend WGU – Texas have a decently high rate of completion. First year student retention is 78%, five points higher than the average private university rate. Graduation rates vary drastically based on the program but range from 50-80%. While rates may seem low compared to some universities, it is much higher than community college graduation rates (below 50%), which tend to attract the same working and part time students. To learn more about the school, visit the WGU – Texas Website.