How do graduation rates differ between online and traditional schools?

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Graduation rates are an essential factor when choosing an online school program that is right for you. No student applies to college with the thought of not finishing their degree, but for many students, graduation isn’t in the cards. So, why do people quit their online program before they have earned their degree? Actually, many reasons do not have anything to do with the online learning format itself; however, some simply tire of attending classes, and others must drop out to care for themselves or their families. Others cannot continue their education without taking out excessive student loans, and those can cause many a student to throw in the towel!

While online enrollments are on the rise, recent research suggests that online learners have higher dropout rates than traditional students. However, this research is limited and sometimes contradictory. In some cases, it found that students did finish their degrees, just not on the same timetable as students attending classes in brick-and-mortar institutions. Unlike attending traditional classes, online learning is built on flexibility, allowing students to learn at their own pace, and this could lead to both longer completion time as well as dropping out. Procrastinators typically are not good candidates for the online learning format.

How does an online learner stay online till completion? A distance learning program must be exciting to keep a student’s attention. At a typical brick and mortar university, students can expect professors who are professionally trained to introduce engaging and intriguing materials in a way that is offered with expression and interest. The online learner must find their own ways to get excited about the required study materials, by perhaps using their imagination or other unique approaches to enhance their learning experience.

When selecting an online program, surf the school’s website and look for completion rates, as well as, retention rates (although, sometimes this information is not readily available). If overall rates are higher than others, that might mean it’s the right choice for you, based on program flexibility or cost. In addition, you must carefully look at school reviews, ensure that they have support services to help you with your career choice and, perhaps most importantly, have a 24-hour help desk for tech support. Often, family members, friends or co-workers can recommend a good online school through their own experiences. Beginning your online adventure on the right foot can be crucial. If you are frustrated with certain aspects of the school’s learning system, you could quickly decide to quit or, at the very least, it may prolong your path to graduation.

Check out our list of the Top 30 Online Schools with The Highest Graduation Rates!


If you are excited about earning your master’s degree, see our selections for the 30 Easiest Online Master’s Degree Programs For 2019!