MIAMI (CBS4) – Every year for the last decade, the number of college students enrolled in at least one online course has increased.
More and more colleges are offering degrees online; could an online education be the future of college?
Hanna Bustos is hoping her online education means a financially stable future. She's a mother to 7-month-old boy, a wife, and works full-time.
Bustos goes to school up one flight of stairs. She puts her seven month old son, Roger, down in the crib next to her and attends class in her home office.
Bustos is one of millions of students getting a degree online, she eventually wants to be a teacher.
"It became a hassle having to go to school, take these classes that are very demanding and be present," said Bustos. "Here I am teaching myself, I'm doing it, I'm getting it done," said Bustos.
Colleges are opening their digital doors to many students who don't have the time or flexibility to commit to a traditional class schedule.
"You don't have to be in a specific place at a specific time," said Bustos.
More than six million students, nearly a third of total enrollment at universities, were taking at least one online course in 2010. That's a more than a 10 percent increase over the year before.
Educators said the success of online education depends in part on students' level of focus and sense of responsibility.
"Most people do very well as long as they are in class and one of the advantages of college is that it gives you structure," said Dr. Rene Garcia, Miami-Dade College Enrollment Director.
According to Dr. Garcia, an online education is not for everyone. "It is very difficult to have the discipline to provide your own structure when it comes to learning," said Dr. Garcia.
An online education does mean you miss out on the college experience on a college campus but for Bustos, that does mean time for her job and time with her baby.
There are drawbacks; going to school on a campus allows for face to face interaction with your teacher. The medium of email and the Internet sometimes makes it difficult to get your questions answered quickly.
"Sometimes when you don't understand a concept it takes a little longer to understand it and get the information that you need," said Bustos. "If you have to contact your teacher it's not like you just raise your hand."
Online courses are good for motivated students and parents, like Bustos. "I want him to have the best," said Bustos.
For those who want to work or have responsibilities outside of school, an online education will cost you about the same as a traditional, on-campus education.
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