By Olivia Coleman
Many critics are scared of the future that has begun to unfold before our eyes: the current generation of students beginning to unpack their college dorms being the last generation to move away from home for college. This fear began with the implementation of online education and has increased over the past years as the industry has taken off with congressional and educator support. College 2.0, as it has been called, is enough to scare anybody, with its possible future of learning separate from the classroom and solely online textbooks. While online education is nowhere near a fully implemental industry, online colleges have been sprouting up more rapidly than expected, but offer a new opportunity to students rather than the fear so many anticipated it would cause.
Online colleges and universities began simply enough, with a few for-profit institutions that sought to encourage working adults to earn supplemental degrees. Since this point, most schools have ballooned into expanding entities that continue to attract thousands of students every year, of all shapes and sizes. Even more surprising is the fact that many traditional schools now offer specific online courses and degree programs which attract more students than they anticipated. This has led more educators to support the online community because of the Ivy League schools that offer classes and the support Congress gave to for-profit schools several years ago. This reigning support helps make the industry more reputable to many people who are still wary of the process.
The new generation of students who have completed their degree through online colleges and universities is expanding every year and provides a beacon of hope for those students who do not have the time or money to enroll in traditional colleges. Online schools have therefore opened doors to students who would not have taken the time to earn a degree without the invention of online classes. We really have become a society that is dependent on the internet, but as these students have proven, it is not entirely a bad thing. Our new generation of internet-users has indicated to the technology community that social media sites have become a part of everyday life and online colleges have simply added to this community.
Many critics site numerous differences of online education including the separation of student and professor, the lack of interaction, and the inability to grasp concepts through sole research, but these critics have slowly drifted away over the years. Online education has conquered many of these problems and continues to attract new groups of students every year and grants thousands of degrees to online students every year as well. While the “doomsday” predictions of critics will probably never come true (online education will not replace traditional classes entirely), the industry will continue to attract new students every year and will more than likely come to a balancing point with traditional college campuses.