What Is The Retention Rate For First Year Online Students In An Online College?

studentsHow one begins may very well determine if, how, and when one finishes the courses enrolled through an online college or university. When a new student begins taking online college courses there is an excitement that motivates them to a level of accountability for completing the classes they chose to begin. A significant consideration for retaining students for online college courses is the advice and assistance they receive with regard to choosing a subject of study that best suits them early on in the process. Building up confidence in the possibilities of career options also serves as a great motivation for students looking forward to graduation.


There is not very much statistical information for prospective students showing their likelihood to earn a degree or the number of years it would normally take for this goal to be accomplished. However, new research initiatives are using scholarship incentives to boost course completion rates and grade level averages within reduced time periods. A great appeal for taking online university courses is that students typically spend about half the time a student in traditional university would spend in classes. Students are also not usually held to a rigid class schedule which allows them the freedom to work at their own pace. This allows them to complete some classes as quickly as they desire. The majority of online university students are adults looking for a flexible schedule and reduced travel so they can increase their skills and progress in their careers and continue to work full-time. Balancing this responsibility while caring for a family adds to the requirements of time management and dedication when it comes to maintaining consistency in course work. The fact that online courses are lower in cost than traditional courses also proves to be a significant benefit for students, including a decrease in travel expenses, time-savings and having the ability to learn from the comfort of home or office.

What’s in store for the online student

Online university students do not escape all human contact as they are usually required to participate in collaborative learning teams which force them into interactions with other classmates. This aspect of online courses is used to simulate real life working conditions and supports the development of project management and team building skills. Although it’s been stated that few students who take a greater number of online courses are likely to attain a degree or transfer to an offline university this may serve also as motivation toward completion. On the other hand, even those completing courses seem to have done so with lower grade points than the average offline university student and this is causing some academics and students to feel that online university courses are offering merely an inferior education lacking higher level intellectual challenge as a reflection of a very low level instruction.

What online universities offer

Even still, online universities offer degrees from baccalaureate to doctoral levels. One online university operating in the United States boasts an enrollment of over 250,000 students making it the largest private university in North America. One survey shows that online student enrollments have increased at a higher rate than enrollment for higher education across the board. In 2011 it was recorded that more than 6 million students in the United States were taking at least one online class. This increase has only been intensified by the encouragement from government officials to increase education and skills in the US workforce by the end of the decade.

Overall, student retention at any university is determined by the student himself, although encouragement from administrators and advisers will play a significant role toward increasing motivation to follow through. The retention rate of first year online students is lower than for those who attend traditional universities. This may be attributed to the same principle that applies to just about everything else; out of sight, out of mind. Making university courses easier to take by providing the convenience of the internet also makes it just as easy for students to opt out when it comes to participation and completion of class assignments. This would be more likely to occur in the first year of courses before a good habit of completing course assignments and group participation has been established.