Despite the recent decline in Emporia State’s on-campus enrollment, online enrollment has seen a 33 percent increase in the past year.
Monica Quintana, online student, said the cost to enroll in ESU’s program is much less than KU’s or the University of Phoenix’s programs.
“I live in the Kansas City area and have two teenagers and a full time job, so the flexibility of the online classes makes it easier for me to get my degree,” Quintana said.
In addition to affordability, U.S. News & World Report recently recognized ESU’s online bachelor’s degree program in the first ever “Top Online Education Programs.”
The 184 institutions with online programs were ranked in three categories in which they were given point values up to 100. Schools were judged on teaching practices and student engagement, student services and technology and faculty credentials and training. No overall rankings were made.
ESU earned spots in two of the three categories, taking the 89th spot in teaching practices and student engagement and the 61th spot for student services and technology. Fort Hays State also made the list, ranking in all three categories.
“I have no idea why we wouldn’t get the faculty credentials ranking,” said Susan Kendrick, director of interdisciplinary studies and associate professor of English. “I have about 50 to 60 people who have MFAs or PhDs who are teaching online classes. Everybody I can think of are full-time faculty members, and a lot of them develop their courses just for the online program.”
Like traditional students, students taking advantage of the online program must meet degree requirements, completing at least 124 semester hours of credits with 48 general education requirements. They must also maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.0, according to ESU’s website.
Kendrick said most of the students in the online programs are people who have full time jobs, place bound students, students who want to come back and complete their degrees and stay-at-home moms.
“It is a legitimate and competitive degree, not a program for slackers,” said Kendrick. “It is not something you do because you can’t do anything else and is something that takes a lot of forethought on the part of the student and they have to really know what they want to study.”
Kendrick said the program could stand improvement in its marketing strategy, but for a small campus in a small town, being ranked by U.S. News is a major accomplishment.