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When Colleges Let You In, But Not Really

Students today can receive an acceptance letter from a college, only to find out they can only take classes online rather than attend the school. 

| BY Kent McDill

Are colleges offering an online education to students in lieu of allowing them to attend school?

U.S. News and World Report recently told the story of a student named Josh Perez, who applied to the University of Florida to attend school in Gainesville. He was accepted, but not to Gainesville; instead, he was given the chance to “go’ to school in his own bedroom.

The acceptance letter Perez received offered him a spot in UF’s Pathway to Campus Enrollment program, which offered him an opportunity to become an on-campus student for his junior year if he completed 60 hours of credits online first.

Many students are now using an online path to on-campus education to major universities. Penn State University has what it calls its World Campus, in which it offers undergraduate online or blended courses, reflecting a growing population of college-age students, the issue colleges have with enrollment space, and the cost of college.

According to Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House, a third of online undergraduates in the 2013-14 schools year were between the ages of 18 and 24, otherwise known as college age. That flies in the face of the theory that online students are returning students or older adults going back to school.

Some educators try to steer college-age students away from online education because of what they miss socially by not “going’’ to college. But online educations are providing access to the same classes and professors at major universities while avoiding the cost of attending on-campus.

“possibly living at home, not paying room and board, having the flexibility that they can work 10-15 hours a week to help fund their college education, that is their reality,’’ said Karen Pollack, assistance vice provost for undergraduate online programs at Penn State. “Given the circumstances, it is their best option.”

But that is the case for students who choose online education over on-campus life. Schools that are “accepting’’ students but only for online classes are trying to have the best of both worlds, an increased enrollment without an overcrowded campus.

The University of Florida program has its advocates, who say students are given two years to get accustomed to the classes they will take, and can familiarize themselves with the school ahead of their two years on-campus once they are juniors. Some of the 350 students who were enrolled in the program for the 2015-16 year, approximately 100 of them actually took up off-campus housing in order to experience college without actually “going’’ to class.

These online students are given the chance to opt into student fees that cover extracurricular activities typical for on-campus students, including football game tickets.

On the other hand, some on-campus students are being offered the opportunity to take online courses at the same time in order to advance their degree programs but reduce classroom costs. So-called “blended’’ degree programs are offered throughout the United States, helping to reduce class sizes while maintaining an on-campus population.



About the Author

Kent McDill

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.