Why Students Drop out of Distance Learning Prpgrams

Distance learning programs, or academic curriculum based upon online computer classes, are designed to allow students to learn without being in the traditional classroom environment. Distance learning programs can be useful for the right type of student. Yet, according to a survey performed by Education Dynamics(1) dropout rates in distance learning programs can reach to more than 60 percent. Peruse the reasons below as to why students drop out of distance learning programs.

*Lack of discipline
One has to be disciplined, or have enough self-control, to make time for the courses. While no instructors may be in a student’s face, there is class work and interactive computer time that must be completed in order to successfully complete distance learning programs.

*Lack of follow-through on assignments
The effort required to complete assignments can be intense. Consistently having to post your own papers or projects, read other students’ posts (comments or articles) and write comments regarding the topic for that week can be difficult. If a student is not adept at finishing assignments, especially multi-layered ones, then distance learning courses will quickly lose their luster.

*Lack of social interaction or camaraderie
Some students succeed in traditional classes because of the interaction with other students. There is a sense of “we are in this together” or “we can get through this together” which drives a student to complete the work. Also, there is the incentive to finish because a student does not want to be left behind his or her peers. With no such peer support system, it is easy to drift away and then drop out out of distance learning programs.

*Lack of feedback from the instructor
Online instructors differ in teaching style and student interaction just as traditional in-class instructors differ. Students that require consistent feedback and/or constructive criticism about an assignment can quickly want to drop out if little to no feedback is given.

*Lack of campus support
Students who need extra support, such as tutoring or academic counseling can find online courses problematic to complete. As a traditional on campus student, one can usually find the tutoring center or Academic Advising staff. Connecting with such staff members may not be so easily accomplished for the distance learning student.

*Lack of funds
Typically, even the best intentioned student can drop out due to lack of funds to pay for courses.

Surprisingly enough, again according the Education Dynamics survey, often students face these obstacles and never share their difficulties or negative feelings with those who could help them remain on task and be academically successful in the online education arena.

1. http://sharing.educationdynamics.com/blogs/academic-perspectives/archive/2009/03/10/what-is-causing-online-student-attrition.aspx