Distance learning is becoming a norm for international students who want to get an American education. It is no longer surprising. Some consider it because they want to get ahead of their peers when it is time to seek jobs in their hometown since there is the idea of American education being superior to what they can get from their local universities. In a survey conducted by Babson Survey Research Group, roughly 33% of college students take at least one online course. Interestingly, while distance learning is widely adopted nowadays, it has some issues that need addressing. Before we delve deeper into these issues, let’s take a look at the current landscape of distance learning and its costs for the educational system.
Fixed vs. Variable Costs
Creating a robust distance education program is quite challenging and expensive because most of the institutions today focus on fixed costs that they have to shell out at the get-go. They fail to consider variable costs that can affect their profitability. Fixed costs include designing and producing instructional tools and technological infrastructure expenses. They fail to factor in that they also have to think about operational costs that can change over time. The number of students who will enroll per course can change every semester, plus they also have to update materials that they will distribute along with updating and revising courses. All these can affect how institutions will set a price for distance learning. Often, these lead to higher distance learning costs that students have to shoulder, making it more challenging to organize their budget.
However, it is an undisputed fact that distance education programs have benefits for various students, particularly those who are from underserved populations.
The Hidden Costs of Distance Learning
Distance learning is not for everyone. Some will highly benefit from enrolling in a brick-and-mortar campus, and this is particularly true for international students. These students who want to experience how it is to be enrolled in a college that offers the best American-based education like the American International College, which caters to Kuwaiti nationals. This way, they can ensure that they will get the degree that they worked hard for.
Why? Recent research shows that while most distance learning institutions now have massive enrollments of up to 160,000 registered students, the dropout rate is equally high, reaching up to 90 percent. The main reason for this significant dropout rate, as some claim, is because most distance learning is only suitable for students who have advanced skills. Students who have difficulty adjusting to college life and fail to receive individualized attention and support often choose to discontinue their courses. Often, they need tutoring, which adds on to the costs.
Blended Courses, Will They Help?
Less proficient students who need guidance and support from their teachers are hurting from the growing popularity of distance learning. What can institutions do then? The best way is to offer blended courses. Blended courses allow students to accomplish tasks online and still receive instructions and lessons in a traditional classroom set-up where they can easily communicate with their mentors, ask for help from colleagues, and interact with other students.
Research suggests that students who have higher interactions in school learn and perform better. Interactivity is a huge factor in ensuring that students receive the appropriate education.
The Bottom Line
That said, the actual cost of distance learning depends on whether students can get the best value for their money. If you are going to enroll in distance learning, ask yourself if you are willing to shell out that money even if you see yourself dropping out after a few sessions. If you think that you can finish your course and comply with all the requirements diligently, then distance learning can be something that you should explore.