SDSU online classes among the most affordable, study says

SDSU ranks among most affordable online degrees

In a rapidly increasing field of online education, SDSU is recognized as a remarkably affordable university for degrees earned over the web – ranking in the top 11 schools out of 46 picked in the country – with 499 online courses offered for over 37,561 Internet credit hours.

With around 7,500 students (over half the student body) taking at least one online class, some believe that the quality of education gets diluted when a class is converted to online. However, others argue otherwise.

“You get the same education and the review process is very stringent, so you’re getting that same caliber of education as you would in an online course,” director of international affairs and outreach Lindsey Hamlin said. “At SDSU we’re looking at a healthy balance of both online and in-person [classes].”

Online classes are typically more expensive than traditional classroom-based classes, which helps pay for server costs and the programs tailored changes to an online setting. 

“It’s kind of more expensive but it doesn’t matter because you don’t have to go to class or buy things like notebooks, so it’s fine,” freshman civil engineering major Abdullah Siddique said. 

Another student thinks that the prices of an online class are only justified and worth it if one enjoys the learning environment of an online class.

“If I enjoyed it [the prices would be worth it] but I guess having the flexibility to do the learning when you can helps rather than being stuck to a specific timetable every day,” sophomore mechanical engineering major Samantha Prasher said.

Hamlin claims that the prices are more costly for online classes because of the premium student’s pay as well as the system itself that needs to be paid for. On the other hand, Hamlin also says that state schools are able to offer online classes at a cheaper rate compare to other non-state schools.

One popular reason for students taking online classes is their flexibility with schedules. For a full time employee, this could be an excellent solution – or to a student who wishes to do classwork and not worry about a strict schedule. 

“I prefer online, the most important thing is I don’t have to go to class everyday and that I can do it at my own convenience, [that way] I can really give my time to my main subjects,” Siddique said. “I like the flexibility of an online class. I can wake up at 3 a.m.  if I wanted to and do my work.”

Carey Kilmer, the assistant director of continuing and distance education, echoes Siddique’s view and believes that online education is a critical tool in offering education to those who don’t have the resources to always come to campus.

“We cater to many students who are place bound and adults who don’t have the flexibility to leave work for a day class, so I think that’s a critical component,” Kilmer said. “I think online education is critical to the mission of SDSU of reaching out to populations who might not be able to come here in person, and in general we’re looking to reach a broader population.”

For other students, though, this can also create problems, according to one student.

“I just took one [online class] and it was technical writing. I didn’t like it a lot; it was a lot of busy work and pointless stuff I feel like you wouldn’t do in class,” Prasher said. “I feel some people can do really well in online classes, but I pay attention better in person.”

Another controversial aspect to online classes is the amount of interaction students receive with their teacher and their peers in an online setting. 

“We have very positive feedback on online courses. Most students feel they have enough interaction with their teachers via discussion boards,” Hamlin said. “You can’t be a silent student in the back in an online course, which is a benefit to online courses.”

Other students feel differently, and think that the online aspect creates a barrier that hinders their engagement in the course.

“I get better interaction in person, and you can ask for help and make friends. You can’t do that online,” Siddique said.

Currently, more is being done to improve student and teacher interactions with online classes.

“We have a quality review process to make sure they (the teachers) are allowing for that interaction between students and teacher and students and other students,” Kilmer said. “I feel that for online classes you get more of an interaction with other students.”