Colleges face decisions for courses this fall, but so do students

Fall semester is still unclear but cost and experience may lead some students to online learning
UW La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – College freshmen may have to start their college careers online. UW La Crosse officials are still not sure what the fall semester will look like.
However, they are seeing more first-year students enroll in online summer classes.

UW La Crosse’s campus is quiet. That is expected for the last week in May when students leave for the summer. However, first-year students really don’t know what to expect for their first semester this fall.

Admissions director Corey Sjoquist says UWL offers a variety of online classes in the summer.

“We’re planning to offer 95 different classes,” Sjoquist said. “Last year about this time we had just over 50 students that were new to UWL, new first-year students expressing interest in summer school. This year we’re at 75 so it’s a healthy increase in number of students.”

Sjoquist said students might be trying out online courses in case they can’t be held on campus this fall. The online course system is the same network used by professors for in-person classes.

“That experience, that exposure can certainly be an advantage to the students that are starting with us in the summer.”

Cost may also factor when students decide to take classes online. The average yearly cost for a full-time student [15 credits] on campus is more than $16,000 with room and board. A student who commutes pays an average of more than $9,000. One of UWL’s online programs costs $6,600 each year for 15 credits.

A New York Times Op-Ed highlights an online masters program at Georgia Tech which costs one-sixth of what it does on campus.

On-campus learning has soared to an average of nearly $54,000 for private and more than $26,500 for public schools.

Tuition is up 260 percent in 40 years for students. Students may want to save money.

“You’re not living on campus,” Sjoquist said. “You don’t have the expense related to housing and a meal plan. However, there’s also so much more that students come to UWL for.”

Some people want an experience.

“There ability to connect with other individuals,” he said. “Understand different perspectives. Gain that leadership experience through the different organizations.

We don’t know what the fall will look like for students but we do know they will have options to consider.