Why do online students drop out?

I just read about a survey of students who dropped out of online degree and certificate programs. Money was the main reason students dropped out: 41% named financial challenges as the reason they dropped out, followed by life events (32%). I wonder if losing one’s job falls under “life events.”

I know Norwich has seen students fail to return to school in recent semesters because of financial difficulties. The University is proactively working with undergraduates and their parents to find ways to keep students in school. It’s an admirable effort.

I’m not exactly sure how things are going on the graduate school end of things, but I know my colleagues actively query accepted students who don’t end up enrolling in our programs. I’m sure they do the same of students who drop out.

But back to this survey, which found that 21% of respondents said they dropped out due to “lack of faculty interaction.” I doubt that Norwich students would say they have a lack of faculty interaction! One of the things I like best about our graduate programs is that the instructors are quite engaged with the students. That’s because they are required to be: instructors are held to very high standards and are expected to
maintain a certain level of support and frequency of communication with their students.

That’s a benefit of online learning vs. on-campus learning: the graduate program staff can, for example, monitor how long it takes an instructor to respond to a student’s question in the online classroom. It requires a lot of time to be a successful online student, and Norwich recognizes that it also requires a lot of time to be a successful online instructor.

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