The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reported in December that nationwide enrollment at community colleges dropped 6% in 2014. However, online enrollment is on the rise, up more than 15% at some two-year colleges.
To accommodate online students, community colleges are trying to provide additional support for students and more professional training for instructors. The schools are also trying to create new online programs that meet the needs of local businesses.
Offering flexible scheduling, such as semesters divided into two eight-week blocks instead of the standard 16-week track, is one way community colleges are trying to make online programs more accessible. Some even offer tutoring, counseling, and additional resources to help students. Seminole State College, Seminole, OK, provides students with a team of advisors who can be reached by Skype, phone, or email, while online students at Odessa College, Odessa, TX, are assigned a success coach.
“The traditional approach is that teaching online courses is easy. Once you set it up, you can mail it in,” Don Wood, vice president of institutional effectiveness, Odessa College, said in a report in U.S. News & World Report. “It is actually much more challenging for faculty to teach online than face-to-face.”