Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

More consequences of Peak Oil

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Sam Dillon reports in the NY Times:

First, Ryan Gibbons bought a Hyundai so he would not have to drive his gas-guzzling Chevy Blazer to college classes here. When fuel prices kept rising, he cut expenses again, eliminating two campus visits a week by enrolling in an online version of one of his courses.

Like Mr. Gibbons, thousands of students nationwide, including many who were previously reluctant to study online, have suddenly decided to take one or more college classes over the Internet.

“Gas prices have pushed people over the edge,” said Georglyn Davidson, director of online learning at Bucks County Community College, where Mr. Gibbons studies, and where online enrollments are up 35 percent this summer over last year.

The vast majority of the nation’s 15 million college students — at least 79 percent — live off campus, and with gas prices above $4 a gallon, many are seeking to cut commuting costs by studying online. Colleges from Massachusetts and Florida to Texas to Oregon have reported significant online enrollment increases for summer sessions, with student numbers in some cases 50 percent or 100 percent higher than last year. Although some four-year institutions with large online programs — like the University of Massachusetts and Villanova — have experienced these increases, the greatest surges have been registered at two-year community colleges, where most students are commuters, many support families and few can absorb large new expenditures for fuel.

At Bristol Community College in Fall River, Mass., for instance, online enrollments were up 114 percent this summer over last, and half the students queried cited gas costs or some other transportation obstacle as a reason for signing up to study over the Internet, said April Bellafiore, an assistant dean there.

“Online classes filled up immediately,” Ms. Bellafiore said. “It blew my mind.”

Enrollments in online classes expanded rapidly early in this decade, but growth slowed in 2006 to less than 10 percent, according to statistics compiled last year by researchers at Babson College in Massachusetts. Some recent increases reported by college officials in interviews were much larger, which they attributed to the rising cost of gasoline. Pricing policies for online courses vary by campus, but most classes cost as much as, or more than, traditional ones.

At Brevard Community College in Cocoa, Fla., online enrollment rose to 2,726 this summer from 2,190 last year, a 24.5 percent increase. “That is a dramatic increase we can only attribute to gas prices,” said Jim Drake, Brevard’s president.

Dr. Drake and officials at several other colleges expressed concern that mounting fuel costs could force some students to drop out of college altogether, especially since only a fraction of courses at most colleges are offered online. [An alternative, of course, that seems not to have occurred to Dr. Drake, is that many more courses be offered in on-line format. – LG] Dr. Drake has put Brevard on a four-day week to help employees and students save gas.

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

12 July 2008 at 10:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

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