Imagine graduating from a four-year traditional university-but never once showing up for class. Online courses are skyrocketing in popularity on college campuses across the country, offering students more flexibility and choice than ever before. Could you get a degree without stepping foot on campus?
It may look like a college dorm, but for Annabelle Loudon, it's also a classroom. Though she attends a traditional university, she's also taking some of her courses online.
Loudon says, "We'd have a reading assignment and then every week you'd have a quiz or a test. So you could work on your own time during the week, which was great for me."
Online education is fast becoming the norm across the United States, with 35% of students now taking at least one course online. And 65% of colleges consider online learning as a critical part of their future.
The institutions who offer them may surprise you says Vicky phillips, Founder of geteducated.com.
She says, "85% of all online degrees are offered by traditional, residential schools. This includes state universities, large public brand names, ivy league schools."
Experts say online classes have distinct advantages - including flexibility, more choices of courses and teachers, and, of course, affordability.
"There's a crisis right now in being able to afford even a first primary college degree. Online learning is a tremendous help to consumers in that regard."
So should we expect to say goodbye to the traditional campus experience in the future? Some say that's where we're headed.
And that has some educators concerned. They believe virtual learning falls short of a full college experience. Kevin Kruger is the president and CEO of Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education
Kruger says, "If you ask most students what they remember about their college experience, most remember interpersonal interactions they've had, they remember the social experiences. They remember the ways in which they've grown as a person. That's much harder to do in an entirely online experience."
He believes a hybrid experience may be best.