First Wholly Online State University in U.S.

Colorado State University Global Campus takes non-traditional approach

A university that is light and limber, with excellent quality…that is an apt description for the first 100% fully online, independently accredited, public university in the United States. Open universities around the world should take notice of Colorado State University Global Campus’s innovative approach. What they are doing is a game changer.

Created by the Colorado State University System Board of Governors in 2007, CSU-Global Campus is focused on facilitating adult success in a global marketplace through career-relevant education including bachelor’s degree completion and master’s degree programs.

All courses are 100% online and designed for working adults. With accelerated 8-week courses and monthly starts, CSU-Global Campus attracts a wide audience. The same affordable tuition rate applies to all students regardless of where they live. For those outside of the state of Colorado, this is a great relief. Their Tuition Guarantee program means that the rate remains the same from the day a student first enrolls through the day they graduate.

Interestingly, however, they haven’t always flourished. A lack of funding and other challenges put CSU-Global Campus in danger of failing. In 2009, Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker stepped in as president with the tenacity and vision needed to turn things around.

With an extensive background in business, having worked for 15 different companies in 5 different industries, Dr. Becky brought a wealth of corporate experience with specific expertise in second stage equity. She felt compelled to make CSU-Global Campus a success because she knows from her work experience that businesses need students that are truly prepared for the workplace.

How successful has she and the university been? They went from 200 students and the doors possibly closing to graduating over 10,000 students with a current enrollment close to 20K from every U.S. state from 55 countries. Not only are they thriving, but analytics attest that the new diversified online system has an 80-85% retention rate and a graduation rate double the national average.

CSU-Global Campus tracks graduate’s salary rates. Current statistics show, four years after graduation, bachelor level graduates are doing 65% better than peers from other systems in the state and master’s level graduates – 25% better.

With data and measurable outcomes to prove their undeniable success, indeed, this is one university to keep an eye on.

Some say that the nontraditional student is today’s traditional student. The balance of student enrollment percentages has been shifting in favor of nontraditional. Over the last decade, more and more students enrolling in institutions of higher learning have characteristics previously used to define the nontraditional students.

adult online learning, open university educationAccording the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), seven are common for the nontraditional undergraduate: delayed enrollment into post-secondary, full time worker, single parents, attends college part-time, has dependents, is financial independent for financial aid purposes, and does not have a secondary diploma.

As the demographics of students change, post-secondary institutions must consider the best approach for serving the nontraditional student. Since most work full time and have other extenuating circumstances, they look for nontraditional methods of obtaining degrees.

At the top of their list of attributes they seek are:

Accessibility.                 Flexibility.                 Affordability.

Online Learning Meets Needs of Nontraditional Students

Colorado State University Global Campus addresses all three needs of the nontraditional student through their 100 percent online programs.

Created in 2007 by the Colorado State University Board of Governors, CSU-Global Campus provides accessibility as the first wholly online state university in the United States.   The institution’s focus has been on facilitating adult success in a global marketplace by offering career-relevant education. With a dedication to student retention, graduation, and workplace success, CSU-Global offers bachelor’s and master’s degree and certificate programs. adult education

It is their nontraditional approach that warrants examination. They address the need for flexibility through their accelerated 8-week courses with monthly starts. Courses are designed with the working adult in mind. Instructors are trained in andragogy, the art and science of adult learning, and specifically in how to teach in an online environment.

The game changer for many students, particularly those who are out of state or are international, is the way CSU-Global Campus addresses the need for affordability. Tuition rates are the same regardless of where a student may live. AND they have a Tuition Guarantee policy, which locks in the rate on the day a student first enrolls and keeps it the same until they graduate. This takes the guessing out of what their degree will really cost.

Open University Education

Like the terms accessibility, flexibility and affordability, another term most often searched when looking for tertiary education is “open education.” According to Wikipedia, “Open education broadens access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems.”

Another premier example of institutions that use online learning to meet the needs of the nontraditional student is The Open University of the UK. They have shifted a bit in terms of technology they used when they began in 1969 and accepted their first students in 1971. In those days it was broadcast television as the means to provide access.

Struggling a bit at first just as CSU-Global did, The OU is now one of the biggest universities in the UK and has since served over 2 million students. In 2013, they established a MOOC platform, FutureLearn, which is now the UK’s largest provider of free online courses.

Many say Colorado State University-Global Campus is akin to The Open University and other open universities throughout the world. Though the U.S. has no Open Universities, so to speak, CSU-Global Campus fills the gap. They do an outstanding job serving a student body of underserved, nontraditional adult learners with a unique and innovative approach.