Clicks of the Mouse Lead to Array of College Choices - and Degrees

Tue Feb 5, 2008 5:00am EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- College degrees once
warranted crack-of-dawn classes and armchair chats during professors' office
hours. These days, crisply-rolled diplomas are much closer at hand --
mouse-clicks and keystrokes within reach.
    For the last five years, record numbers of students have booted up their
computers in pursuit of Associate's, Bachelor's, even Master's degrees.
    "The options are numerous, all with subtle differences," says Jerry
Slavonia, CEO of, a Web-based college resource. "Evaluating
the programs on your own can be challenging."
    Online schools took root in the early 1990s. According to a recent study
by the Boston-based consultancy EduVentures, eight percent of post-secondary
students -- more than 1.5 million people -- are currently studying for
    The University of Phoenix-Online Campus has become the largest
post-secondary institution in the U.S.: With more than 117,000 students, it's
twice the size of the second-largest U.S. college.
    The biggest benefits afforded by such schools, experts say, are access and
flexibility. The college-age population now clocks in at historic proportions,
and is expected to grow continually during the next decade; bricks-and-mortar
classrooms are crowded. Meanwhile, government education subsidies are
shrinking. Online schools let students don the college cap after working
    "If we get clear evidence that they can allow you to complete your degree
quicker, or get you a comparable salary at the end of it, and if tuition rises
continue to outpace inflation," says Richard Garrett, Senior Research Analyst
at EduVentures, "I think people less able to pay for a traditional college
experience will see online as a more and more attractive option."
    Forensic science, health care and homeland security are among the many
Bachelor's of Science already sought by online learners. Westwood College
Online, in Denver, offers one in fashion merchandising, while the Art
Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division, in Pennsylvania, trains aspiring
video game developers.
    Though many programs may appear similar on-screen, insiders caution that
online schools take a myriad of forms. Factors to consider include a school's
reputation and accreditation. Where are its alumni working? What about
job-placement rates? Are traditional services like counseling and tutoring
available to online students? The next generation of education focused web
sites like are helping students navigate these issues.
Kate Kelleher, Pittsburgh's Online Division Vice President, says mirroring
a traditional college program is essential to her school's success. "By
offering services via social networking sites and the like, we try to provide
a holistic experience, versus just plugging into the wall."

Bree Nguyen of, +1-310-334-9491
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