New Study: Online Courses Meet the Needs of a Diverse Student Population
What kind of student takes courses at StraighterLine?
To find out, StraighterLine recently retained Hezel Associates LLC, a research company, to survey StraighterLine students about their experiences at our online school. Burke Smith, StraighterLine’s founder, wanted firm data to answer a number of questions. Why had these students decided to take courses at StraighterLine? How satisfied were they with their courses? How did the costs compare to the cost of attending community colleges or other educational institutions? How easy was it for students to transfer the credits they had earned to colleges and universities?
So, what kind of student is motivated to take college courses at StraighterLine?
Let’s take a look at what the study found . . .
People of all ages are pursuing college work at StraighterLine. The StraighterLine student population is much more diverse than the traditional college student population. For example, only one-third of StraighterLine students are between the ages of 18 and 22, the “traditional” college age. The age of respondents ranged from 16 to 69 years old, with a median age of 30.
StraighterLine is a top choice for single and working parents. A significant number of StraighterLine students are married, have children, and/or work full time. Slightly more than half (52.3%) of the sample is single with most of the remainder (42.3%) currently married. Approximately one-quarter (26.7%) of the respondents have children in their household and two-thirds of those parents in the sample have children under the age of five. As would be expected, the martial and parental status of StraighterLine students varies by age, with students under the age of 25 less likely to be married or have children than respondents who are 25 and older.
Many students take StraighterLine courses while they are working full or part-time jobs. Looking at the employment status of students by age group, the major difference across the groups is the mix of full and part time employment for StraighterLine students over and under the age of 25. For both groups, approximately 70% of students are working full or part time. However, 81.3% of people over the age of 25 who are employed are working full time, while only 20.5% of people under the age of 25 who are employed are working full time. Considering that students under the age of 25 are more likely to be full time students, this difference is not unexpected.
In summary . . .
A wide variety of students are discovering StraighterLine and taking the college courses it offers. They include “traditional” college students, but also parents, and working parents. The data indicates that StraighterLine is succeeding in its efforts to offer flexible and affordable courses to a broad spectrum of online learners, and also that America’s college population is becoming more diverse than generally believed.