Texas is paving the way for online education
Monday, September 29, 2014
In an ongoing effort to expand access to education across the country — both K-12 and higher levels — special focus is being paid to online education. And a recent study, "The Best States for Online College Students 2014" by OnlineColleges.com, ranks Texas as the national leader in online education with Washington coming in as a close second.
The main factors that determined the rankings in the study were the quality of Internet connectivity in the state, the scope of distance education programs and the in-state tuition rates. These were compared to the rate and scope of job growth in the state, along with cross-section industry growth and the median salary for those holding bachelor's degrees.
In Texas, the low unemployment rate and high job growth rate is a definite and positive contributor to the state's rising earning potential, which in turn offers high hopes for job seekers. According to the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau data, those who hold Texas-based bachelor's degrees have the highest median income in the country.
Added to these factors are the state's education efforts that recognize and give as much value to online degrees as the traditional ones. Stating his agenda clearly, Texas Gov. Rick Perry has vowed to expand online options as well as make education more affordable. In 2011, he helped launched Western Governors University Texas, an online institution that offers affordable, easy and more flexible ways to get a college degree without facing financial constraints.
The data for the study, which has been garnered from various sources, present a unanimous picture — that of the advanced educational assets present in Texas. With keen focus on improving education standards at each level and upgrading to newer standards continuously, the state boasts the largest number of distance education programs available nationally. This complements the wide number of regular colleges, all with tuition costs that fall below the national average.
The size of Texas has been a deterrent in the past for many to pursue higher studies, but expansive online programs now available makes the state well-positioned for distance learning not just for Texans in remote locations but for all Americans who wish to pursue and complete their education.
Texas has been featured in the news as one of the few states to have weathered the recession well and for its robust job growth projections. With no state income tax and the fastest adjusted job growth projections in the nation, Texas also boasts high median salaries of $50,613 per annum.
Sound education policies combine with these factors to pave the way for more employment and earning benefits for graduates and job seekers in the Lone Star State. There is no wide gap between an online degree and a regular one like in many other states when it comes to turning these into a stable and well-paid career.
Among the other 10 best U.S. states for online colleges in 2014, Texas and Washington were followed by Georgia, Utah, Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas. For the states that lagged behind, a special look into the existing roadblocks to online learning like location and tuition cost as well as the employment issues could turn the tide and break down the access barriers to higher education there.
With more graduate schools partnering with technology companies and reaching out to more students, the growth of online education is showing an upward curve nationwide, despite the regional differences. An increase in online options is complemented with their increasing value in the job market, which has further spurred their growth.
An increasing number of traditional college campuses are using online education and new technology to increase both their undergraduate course options and graduate degree enrollment. We can see the ripple effect in the education and technology industries, with more innovative and young educational startup companies coming up with innovative learning platforms for both students and professionals.
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