Hear Online Learners Loud and Clear

Last updated on: January 26, 2022

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We’ve surveyed students for our annual Online College Students report for 10 years. This year, we reimagined and expanded that report. In Voice of the Online Learner, we surveyed a larger group of learners than ever before, identified new trends, and confirmed established findings. Here are some highlights from the report. Click the image below to view the full infographic.

Top 5 Student Motivators for Earning an Online Degree*

Achieving personal growth: 30%
Advancing in their career or receiving a promotion: 26%
Bettering their job prospects: 25%
Getting their first professional or salaried job: 25%
Increasing their salary in their current profession: 22%

Online students’ motivations center around personal growth and career advancement and they achieved personal and career success through their degrees. Online learners listed their top outcomes as:

Salary increase
New job
New career
Promotion at work
Increased confidence in the workplace

Online students would pursue a similar learning experience again.

79% of current and recently graduated online students say they would choose online learning again.
63% of recently graduated online students would go back for another degree.

The Impact of COVID-19
Emergency remote classes, which started in the spring of 2020, changed online learning. For many learners who had previously been enrolled in online courses, this helped their experience.

Did you feel your experience in your online program changed in 2020 due to the pandemic?

I completed my degree before the pandemic: 8%
Yes, it changed for the worse: 13%
No, it did not change: 38%
Yes, it changed for the better: 41%

A new type of online learner who is more open to synchronous or in-person components in their online programs is emerging. Higher ed leaders should recognize the differentiators in post-pandemic online learners, as they often:

Skew younger
Have an increased likelihood of being employed part-time or unemployed
Live closer to campus
Look for an undergraduate degree
Are starting a career as opposed to advancing one
Place a high value on transfer credits

Financing Online Education
Paying for college is a top concern for online students. The top three factors when deciding to apply and enroll in an online program are: *

Affordability/tuition & fees: 55%
School/program accreditation: 41%
Program concentrations/specializations within the degree: 29%

Small scholarships can impact online program enrollments significantly.

38% Would choose one school over another for a $500 a year scholarship
21% Would choose one school over another for a $1,000 a year scholarship

Download Your Copy of Voice of the Online Learner
To dive deeper into the attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors of online learners, download this year’s edition of Voice of the Online Learner today.

*Respondents were asked to select all answers that apply.

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