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Study: Online students are younger, enroll in programs with nearby campuses

Individuals of all ages participate in online education, but about 40 percent of online students are younger than 30.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (July 26, 2012) — In attracting students to online degree or certificate programs, institutions should look close to home. According to a new report released Wednesday by The Learning House, Inc. and Aslanian Market Research, 80 percent of online students live within 100 miles of a campus or service center of their institution.

“This is one of the key observations contained in Online College Students 2012 that institutions should consider as they work to build online enrollments,” noted Carol Aslanian, senior vice president of Aslanian Market Research and principal author of the report.

After conducting surveys with 1,500 prospective and current online students nationwide, Learning House and Aslanian Market Research supply insight and information to colleges and universities that seek to serve online students.

“Education is a pathway for personal and professional growth, and online education helps people achieve these goals,” said Dr. David Clinefelter, chief academic officer at Learning House and co-author of the report. “Knowing how, when and why people enroll in online programs helps institutions offer more effective programs.”

Other key report findings include:

•  Individuals of all ages participate in online education. About 40 percent of online students are younger than the age of 30; and one out of every five online students is younger than the age of 25.

• For-profit institutions do not dominate online education. About two-thirds of online students attend not-for-profit institutions.

• Students who enroll in not-for-profit and for-profit institutions are more alike than different. With the exception of age and ethnic background, they share similar key demographics and preferences in regard to field of study, desired credentials, goals and motivation to pursue online education.

• Although the large majority of online students enroll in degree programs, certificates attract 20 percent of the market.

• Most online students determine which online programs they might be interested in by directly visiting college or university websites. Institutions’ websites provide the most important communication channel.