The University of Connecticut was ranked number four out of 17 schools for its online classes by the SR Education Group, an education publisher founded in 2004.
“To be considered for the ranking, the schools had to be accredited and offer at least 10 online, fully online, degrees with one at least a bachelor’s or master’s level,” marketing manager for SR Education Group Taitum Ridgeway said.
Additionally, schools with online degrees had to have an annual tuition of $15,000 or less and an average academic strength score of 71 percent, Ridgeway said.
Out of all the 1,722 accredited schools with online degree programs across the country, only 453 schools met the requirements to be considered for this list, Ridgeway said. The list was then tailored down to 17 schools through a ranking formula consisting of high academic strength scores and low annual tuition rates, Ridgeway said.
UConn came in fourth behind the University of Maryland, University of Washington and Cedarville University.
UConn’s placement was based on a 77 percent academic strength score, which was established through students’ standardized test scores, and a low annual tuition rate of $9,156, Ridgeway said.
The data collected to determine the academic strength score and current tuition rate were based on the 2015-2016 academic year and gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics, Ridgeway said.
UConn offers 22 online degrees, including six master’s degrees, 15 graduate certificates and one post-baccalaureate certificate program, according to UConn’s eCampus website.
“We look into a little bit about…what online education looks like for each specific school because not all schools offer them in the same ways,” Ridgeway said. “For UConn, they — so the online classes are taught by the same professors that teach the classes in person, which is kind of cool.”
While online classes take place behind individual computer screens, UConn students who choose to take classes this way do not miss out on opportunities to interact with their classmates and professors. There are a vast amount of resources available, including email, phone, instant messaging, videoconferencing, virtual and face-to-face office hours, discussion boards and chat rooms, according to the website.
Online students also have access to the same resources as on-campus students, such as HuskyCT, the UConn Library System, Google Apps at UConn and HuskyTech, according to the website.
Like Ridgeway mentioned, UConn’s online classes are taught by the same professors who teach the same classes on-campus, which allows for the classes to be treated and credited the same way.
Alexandria Zaccagnini, a seventh-semester human development and family studies major, said she has taken three online classes during her time at UConn and would recommend them to other students.
“I feel like I’m getting the same information. The only thing I’m not getting is...the accessibility of being able to talk to someone after class in person,” Zaccagnini said. “Because yeah [the professor’s] there, but it’s not in person, which is a little different.”
Zaccagnini said taking an online class during the regular semester is a lot less stressful because it frees up time for a student that has a busy schedule. In her current online class, Death, Dying and Bereavement, the professor gives papers instead of exams, which also helps reduce the stress level, Zaccagnini said.
Taylor Couture, seventh-semester diagnostic genetic sciences major, said she has taken one online class during her UConn career, but it was not beneficial to her style of learning.
“I am one of those weird people that prefers on-campus classes because I feel I am more engaged in the classroom than flipping through PowerPoints online,” Couture said. “I feel I learn better having things explained to me.”
Couture said her online class experience was more isolated, since it was taken during the summer without any interaction with her classmates. Zaccagnini, by contrast, said her current online class has a much more interactive aspect where students have to respond to other students as part of their assignments.
Though Couture said she would prefer on-campus classes, she said UConn’s online classes were “fairly simple to navigate once you get the hang of them."
Emma Casagrande is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.