Saturday, September 17, 2016

Colleges experiment with engaging alumni of online programs - Roxanne Shiels, University Business

How does an institution connect with students who’ve never been on campus? In 2013, the latest year for which data is available, 2.7 million students—more than 13 percent of all U.S. students—took all their classes online or through other distance education. Penn State World Campus, the online arm of Penn State University that started in 1998, now has 18,000 students and almost 12,000 alumni. When students enroll in our degree programs, they aren’t just paying for an education—they’re paying for the promise of becoming part of the Penn State family, one of a network of 645,000 living alumni. Creating emotional connections and lasting bonds with online students starts while they are still in school, just as it does with traditional students. These bonds don’t benefit just the alumni organization or the institution. Research shows adult students who are at risk of dropping out are more likely to stay in school when someone is encouraging them.

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