HOBOKEN, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wiley Education Services, part of John Wiley and Sons Inc. (NYSE: JWA) (NYSE: JWB), today released its annual report in partnership with Aslanian Market Research, a division of EducationDynamics, sharing insights about the priorities and considerations of online learners, which may inform higher education’s recovery efforts following the fallout of the novel coronavirus.
Before U.S. students were contending with campus closures and COVID-19 quarantines, more than 1,500 individuals currently enrolled, recently enrolled or planning to enroll in a fully online undergraduate or graduate degree, certificate or licensure program were surveyed about their preferences and experiences. The resulting Online College Students report lends insights to help institutions better understand and adapt online programs in lockstep with changing student behaviors.
“The radical shift to virtual learning during COVID-19, made possible by the heroic efforts of faculty, was critical to helping students continue their education, but should not be considered a true or sustainable online learning solution,” said Todd Zipper, president of Wiley Education Services. “The most successful online programs are carefully crafted by faculty and course designers who follow best practices for organizing courses, presenting content, empowering faculty and leveraging technology to encourage active engagement. As all colleges are planning for a very different fall semester and beyond, the Online College Students report helps chart a path forward.”
Colleges and universities must consider long-term strategies that help them adapt to evolving student needs. Building programs that blend the best of online and campus-based learning could be a likely solution. This report shows more than a quarter (27%) of respondents were already prioritizing the option for both online and on-campus classes when choosing an online program prior to COVID-19.
”There is little doubt that online learning will be meeting the needs of increasing numbers of college students of all ages as they attempt to cope with dramatic life changes in the months and years ahead,” said Carol Aslanian, president and founder of Aslanian Market Research. “More and more students will be seeking convenient, efficient, readily accessible and cost-effective ways to gain the skills needed in an evolving work environment.”
Additional findings – relevant especially now to online and traditional institutions alike – include:
Top priorities of current online students remain affordability, school reputation and a quick path to completion. When asked the most important factors when choosing a school, respondents listed the below as top considerations.
- Affordable programs: More than half of students (51%) cite affordability as their most important factor when evaluating online programs. However, for many students, quality trumps cost. Sixty-four percent of students are willing to pay more in tuition if they feel they are gaining something from it.
- Schools and programs with good reputations: Thirty-six percent of students listed reputation as a critical consideration when choosing a program. Cultivating a good reputation also has long-term effects, as 22% of graduated students surveyed have or planned to refer someone to their school.
- Quick paths to degrees: Twenty-eight percent of respondents cited quick degree pathways as important when considering programs. This should include ease when transferring credits, as 15% of respondents found transferring previous credits to be the most challenging part of their enrollment process.
- Proximity to their homes: Nearly a quarter of respondents listed proximity to home as a key consideration when selecting an online program. Seventy-five percent of online learners surveyed chose a school within 50 miles of their home address – an insight particularly interesting on the heels of the novel coronavirus.
- Students want to learn on-the-go: Seventy-four percent of students in online programs want to use their mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets, to help them progress through their courses.
The perceived value of online education is high. Overall, 78% of those who completed their online degrees agree or strongly agree that it was worth the cost.
The Online College Students report demonstrates that universities have opportunities to navigate impacts caused by COVID-19 and potential disruptions in the future. Through continuous innovation, Wiley Education Services aims to support universities in delivering quality educational experiences across all formats and help chart a new course for the future-state of education.
Visit edservices.wiley.com/OCS2020 to access the complete report.
The Online College Students report is based on the results of a survey conducted in the winter of 2020. Wiley Education Services and Aslanian Market Research conducted surveys with more than 1,500 individuals nationwide. Respondents were at least 18 years of age, had a minimum of a high school degree or equivalent, and were recently enrolled, currently enrolled, or planning to enroll in the next twelve months in a fully online undergraduate or graduate degree, certificate, or licensure program.
About Wiley Education Services
Wiley Education Services, a division of Wiley, is a leading, global provider of technology-enabled education solutions to meet the evolving needs of universities, corporations, and ultimately, learners. We partner with 70 institutions across the U.S., Europe and Australia, and support over 800-degree programs. Our best-in-class services and market insights are driven by our deep commitment and expertise—proven to elevate enrollment, retention and completion rates. For more information, visit edservices.wiley.com.
EducationDynamics is the leader in connecting career-focused students with the educators that can best help them achieve their goals. Through a dedicated team of higher education market research experts, we conduct primary and secondary research that delivers actionable insights, helping schools find, enroll, support, and satisfy students in the rapidly changing world of higher education. Market research is part of our full suite of higher education enrollment growth solutions that help colleges and universities connect with students across the entire student lifecycle. For more information, visit www.educationdynamics.com.