Monday, December 6, 2010

More college students taking degree programs online

Danny Ashcom reports for class in the living room of his Uptown one-bedroom apartment.

The 32-year-old counselor is earning an online master's degree in computer science through the University of Illinois at Springfield. He started the program in August, the same month he graduated with a traditional bricks-and-mortar master's degree in psychology from a different school.

"Doing psychology I wouldn't have thought about an online degree because you need to be face-to-face with people," he said. "In computer science, there is no real price to pay for doing it on your own. You can do it quickly and efficiently."

Ray Schroeder has taught at the U. of I.'s Urbana-Champaign campus and then its Springfield campus every semester since 1971. He now leads online programs at the Springfield campus, which offer more online courses than the other two U. of I. campuses combined.

"What drives many of us in this field is serving the student who cannot come to campus," he said.

Students include those with disabilities, military students or others working full time and parents who can't make it to class at a specific time and place. Almost all of them are paying for their own education.

Schroeder said more than half of the school's students are enrolled in at least one online class during the fall semester. For students seeking degrees totally online, the average age of an undergraduate is 34, the average master's is 35, he said.

Online programs at UIS were featured in a December 6, 2010, article in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Download a PDF of the article