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Why Do Students Dropout from On-Line Courses?

Many schools and states have found that it is easier for schools and students to take on-line courses to complete their credentials.  State Departments of Education are also encouraging students to take on-line courses so that students are not counted as dropouts.  Of course, it is also cheaper for schools to offer on-line courses and this has become a major way of providing courses for students.  It allows schools to offer Advance Placement Classes when there aren’t a sufficient number of students in a single school.  Certain courses with a limited student demand can also be offered.

An entire industry has developed among charter schools which offer on-line education as their sole means of delivering instruction.  Virtual high schools have developed in some states, Florida among them.

Among online students who dropped out of their degree or certificate programs, 40 percent failed to seek any help or resources before abandoning their programs, according to a recent EducationDynamics survey. Conducted in November 2008 among about 150 respondents who visited EducationDynamics’ sites eLearners.com and EarnMyDegree.com, the survey was designed to identify students’ motivations for deserting their online degree or certificate programs.

Financial challenges (41 percent) proved to be the main contributor to student attrition, followed by life events (32 percent), health issues (23 percent), lack of personal motivation (21 percent), and lack of faculty interaction (21 percent). Nearly half (47 percent) of students who dropped out did so even before completing one online course.

When asked to select the resources that online institutions could have provided to improve the online student experience, 53 percent craved more online student services and Web-based academic advising. Self-help, time management, and organizational advice also ranked as coveted offerings among students who dropped out (46 percent).

“These survey results confirm the fact that schools can play a more active role in retaining students by identifying their key life issues, such as important personal events and financial issues, and creating compelling interactive content that addresses them,” said Peter Tomassi, senior vice president of product development for the company.

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