I went to college a few decades ago, at a large public university, where it was consistently difficult to enroll in the classes I wanted. It may get easier at the graduate level but for this undergrad the “sold out” signs on classes were a consistent disappointment. It’s got to be a lot tougher today at least in the public schools, because the budget crunch/enrollment surge pattern has been repeated over and over, state after state. In my home state of California, it is virtually impossible to graduate in four years from a public university because of the overcrowding.
One of the options that students have today is online classes, from their own or another university. In recent years traditional schools have jumped on the distance learning bandwagon for a number of reasons. Many students are working significant hours and need the convenience of online access; schools can enroll more students in a class than there are seats in the classroom; and the technology has gotten to the point that most traditional universities feel they can deliver a quality educational experience online.
That gives students in many state universities the option of enrolling in classes that aren’t available on campus. The University of North Carolina, for instance, offers 240 programs of study in 22 academic disciplines, with classes drawn from all of its 16 constituent campuses. Many of the courses are intended for students enrolled on the campus offering the course, but there is also a roster of Carolina Courses Online open to all students who are academically eligible.
The State University of New York (SUNY) offers the SUNY Learning Network which is a virtual campus offering online courses, degrees, and certificates from 32 member schools, including both doctoral universities and community colleges. You can be attending college at one campus and enroll in courses from other schools.
Both Florida State University and the University of Florida have selected degree programs available; from FSU there are both undergraduate and graduate degrees and from University of Florida there are undergraduate completion programs and graduate degrees. One of the impressive efforts from the University of Florida is the online graduate level options in engineering, with over fifteen degrees and specializations ranging from aerospace engineering to industrial systems engineering to computer engineering.
Three states with three different approaches to online education from their public universities. If you are struggling with course access at your current school, public or private, you should take a look at the online options for classes that meet your needs. With a little legwork on the issue of transferability, you may be able to round out your college experience with an attractive distance learning option from your state university.
This post was submitted by Bob Hartzell, who writes on the changes in undergraduate education and on accredited online graduate programs for several websites.