Once upon a time "” and it wasn't so long ago "” you got your education, possibly with an applied component, and then you went to work. Pretty much end of story. The overwhelming majority of college students dedicated at least four years on campus and then landed jobs or continued to graduate school followed by work. Earning college degrees in the evening meant a constant juggling of schedules and waiting for courses to be offered, and the occasional distance learning was offered on television or through expensive universities without walls.

 

Meanwhile educators maintained that learning was a lifelong process, often even more valuable after years of experience in a career, and that there are many learning styles that don't fit into the traditional classroom format used for hundreds of years. Thanks to the Internet and the influx of thousands of ambitious, determined nontraditional students, higher education has now changed to the point that, as U.C. spokesman Greg Hand says, "We are looking for opportunities to expand the experiences of our students, both graduate and undergraduate. The traditional, four-year (in a classroom) degree is becoming a thing of the past."

 

Instead, students are finding online classes, often with live chat rooms for questions and clarification, hybrid programs combining classroom and online contact, single registrations for a collection of courses, block or "cohort" programs with a group moving through the requirements together, books delivered to the student's door and graduate certificate courses for targeted skills.

 

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