It may surprise you to learn 97% of the landmass in the United States falls into a rural category. If you reside anywhere in that extremely high percentage, traveling to the nearest city for education may not be feasible. This is precisely why distance learning is a convenient and cost-effective option to consider.
It’s been found that sticking close to home in rural America translates to a significant college attainment gap between rural and urban students. U.S. Census data shows that 35% of Americans over the age of 25 have earned a bachelor's degree, but only 8% of those degree holders come from rural counties. Proximity to a college campus is a major driver of the rural attainment gap, with only 14% of the nation's campuses, mostly community colleges, being located in rural communities. Fortunately, residing in a rural community does not mean you can’t study at home. We recognize your talent and aspire to make college a reality for you through online learning.
Accelerated Online Learning
You will be happy to know that Ottawa University (OU) is in your corner. Founded in 1865, OU’s first physical campus is located in Ottawa, KS, a rural community of approximately 12,000 people. The University has since added campuses in Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Phoenix. As a small, faith-based University, our roots are rural. The shared traits that make a small town inviting make Ottawa University the right fit for many of our rural students. When we incorporated online learning, we maintained our commitment to those values. Once you enroll in one of Ottawa University’s online programs, you’ll soon discover the connected feeling of the small class sizes led by our hands-on instructors. It’s one of many benefits of earning an online degree with us.
Benefits of Distance Learning
Let’s explore how online learning helps rural college students.
Taking college courses from the comfort of your home is extremely convenient. Rural students often struggle to make it to class due to long travel times. If you want to earn your degree, studying at home is much more practical than traveling a long distance to attend class. However, you have dreams, too. Don’t give up on them!
In addition to at home study, affordable tuition may be the bottom line for many rural college students. An online degree can save as much as $50,000 over a traditional, on-campus program, especially if you live out of state. On-campus schools charge significantly more if you attend from another state. Online courses, on the other hand, generally cost the same for in and out-of-state students. As an online learner, you also won’t incur costs associated with housing, meal plans, and a variety of fees. You won’t have to commute to class, either, saving on fuel and car maintenance.
Do you have credits earned at a community college? Ottawa University’s credit transfer policy can reduce the number of courses you need to take, thus reducing your costs. Another benefit of earning an online, accelerated degree is being able to hold down a job while attending school. A steady income can help mitigate school debt if you’re able to pay as you go. Some employers also offer full or partial tuition reimbursement, which can be a great reason to keep your job while pursuing a degree.
Being able to attend class on your schedule and at your pace is another important draw for rural students. Ottawa University allows you to access courses at your convenience. Whether you are a morning person or you prefer to burn the midnight oil, you are in control of your education time. Additional flexibility can be found by taking 8-week courses year-round to earn an accelerated degree or by slowing it down and spreading it out to fit your schedule.
The economic gap between rural and urban populations can be significant, in large part due to the education attainment gap mentioned earlier. Earning your bachelor’s or master’s degree will boost your economic status. If you hold a high school diploma, your annual income potential is approximately $38,792. Earn an associate degree and that increases to $46,124. But look at the potential jump in salary when you hold a bachelor’s degree - $64,896. Add $13,000 more if you earn a master’s degree.
Online Learning in Rural Areas
Beyond income potential, another reason to earn an online degree as a rural college student is the need for qualified professionals in rural areas. Many small towns have a difficult time remaining viable in part because their residents aren’t qualified to provide the community’s needed professional services or, if they are, they often move away. What if you earned your degree and returned to a rural district to provide your services?
Consider nursing, for example. There is a tremendous shortage of nurses in rural areas, which is why Ottawa University's online nursing degree programs present the best opportunity for rural residents to pursue nursing school while remaining in their community. The same can be said for any number of professions.
Online Learning for Career Advancement
Don’t let your location limit your potential for career advancement or hold you back from pursuing your dream job. Earning an online degree is an important way to learn the tools to make a difference in your community. You are not limited to our campuses in Kansas, Milwaukee, or Phoenix. Enroll in one of Ottawa University’s online accelerated degrees and study from anywhere!
Contact an enrollment advisor for more information!
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