The normal class setup at UT is perfect ... if you are the average student and started straight out of high school. However, if you are a non-traditional student you are slightly hindered by the class choices presented to you.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a non-traditional student is largely categorized as someone over the age of 24. These students typically have families that impact their ability to successfully complete a higher education and/or work full time.
As a non-traditional student, I feel that if UT were to expand on the selection of online classes, enrollment would go up for those non-traditional students. UT currently offers only a select few online courses, especially compared to other schools.
I started my college career at Roane State Community College, and they offered a large variety and number of online courses. Of my four semesters at Roane State, I had five courses online, but in my three semesters at UT, I’ve only had one. I had five times more online courses at a smaller college. This lack of online courses is a gate guarding these non-traditional students from UT and preventing UT from having a larger enrollment.
UT wants a larger enrollment and could easily compete with the online colleges and receive the larger enrollment they want. UT would be able to make the money it constantly desires. It would also reduce the time many students spend on campus. Not only would it help non-traditional students, it would help the traditional students already on campus.
Traditional students would benefit for the same reasons as non-traditional students. They may not work as much as non-traditional students, yet they still often work and can only work certain times to be able to attend class. Also, if a large incident were to happen that would affect the student’s ability to come to class, they would not have their grade impacted by missing class.
The online classes would also teach the students to organize their assignments on their own time. Students would better learn time management because of the work involved for online courses. This is also the biggest drawback to online courses because it does fall on the student to be sure their assignments are done. UT students also have some experience with online classes if they’ve taken a flipped class, because in essence it is the same thing with practical use in the classroom.
Flipped classes are online classes with extra steps. The students spend time outside of class to teach themselves, then come to class and use it practically. These classes already have a lot of practical use on the websites that are being used for the students’ homework. Online classes are a what a flipped class could be if UT got rid of the mandatory in class time. Adding online classes would make for a better environment for the commuter students as well.
By reducing the time commuter students spend on campus it would save these students money on gas and food, making the education more accessible to those students. UT would not only be creating more accessibility to new non-traditional students, it would also help those students that already go to campus. UT is also remaining behind the times and not adjusting to the current state of the world.
While UT does use the internet for Canvas, it is not fully utilizing this amazing resource that is now available to those that can afford it. Canvas is a fantastic resource that allows students to turn in and view assignments, post discussions and message their professors; however, some professors don’t utilize it. Canvas is the perfect backbone to begin to create online classes. UT is showing its lack of willingness to grow with the times and use this resource. If UT wants to continue to grow, which we all know it does, it should utilize the amazing resource that is the internet to attain its full growth in students and classes.
Given that UT is a large school with an even larger enrollment it only makes sense that they would add online classes to adjust to the ever-changing world around us and the need for more adults to return to school. UT can increase their enrollment, help the students and reduce the amount of time students spend on campus. All in all, the addition of online classes should be a no-brainer for UT and should come as no surprise when they realize this.
Leonard Wright is a junior majoring in communication studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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