We can say six million students are now taking at least one online course, but do we know what those students look like? According to a new survey, the average student is a white, 33-year-old female with a full-time job that pays around $65,000 per year. She’s likely studying business — the most popular field of study — in hopes of advancing in her current career.
The survey was conducted by Aslanian Market Research and Learning House, Inc., a company who helps colleges build online programs. Together, they polled 1,500 people who are, recently were or plan to soon be enrolled in fully online programs.
What they discovered is that most people enrolled in online education are either looking to advance in their career or change their career entirely. Only 19 percent of respondents were unemployed, with 12 percent of those actively looking for work.
Although 73 percent admitted their intended credential was a diploma, the rest said they’d also take a certificate or license — a sign of good news for edX, which plans on offering certification “at a modest fee.” The survey authors write, “As interest in competency-based learning rises, so will the demand for short-term, career-oriented, and compressed certificate study.”
Another positive sign for edX is that, when choosing an online institution, respondents said they value reputation above all else. Harvard, MIT and UC Berkeley have nothing if not a good reputation, and this is an area where 2tor can thrive, as well. The startup’s partnered with UNC’s MBA program, Georgetown’s nursing program, as well as USC’s Masters program for Teaching and Social Work, among others, in order to bring their curriculum online.
Online, business was the most popular field of study, at 34 percent, yet health professions and social sciences weren’t too far behind, both at 16 percent, proving the popularity of STEM education.
The only sad part is, 17 percent of respondents didn’t know what type of institution they attended, whether it be a nonprofit or for-profit institution. For-profit institutions do own more than a third of the fully online market. The University of Phoenix, alone, holds a 15 percent share.
As higher ed alternatives continue to crop up, companies can now know who they should be targeting. Sure, 1,500 people might be small in comparison to the six million taking online classes, but some sort of identity is better than no identity at all.