UW Oshkosh ranks No. 8 best online college in Wisconsin

Megan Behnke, News Reporter

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In a new ranking for 2020 Best Online Colleges in Wisconsin by SR Education Group, UWO has been listed as the eighth best online college in the state.

SR Education Group Marketing Manager Oliver Li said the group is an education research publisher that has been publishing rankings of online colleges since 2009 and awarding scholarships since 2010.

“We pride ourselves on thorough research and fair assessment of all available online programs, with the hopes of helping students make educated decisions when choosing an online degree,” Li said. “We seek to help driven people accomplish their education goals in a financially responsible manner.”

UWO Interim Director of Advising & Recruitment Brandon Pannier said students are exploring online education options at a greater rate because online courses tend to offer flexibility and access for students who may be juggling obligations.

“Additionally, collaborative technology has improved tremendously in the last decade,” Pannier said. “So students can now gain a much more cooperative and immersive experience in an online course than they could have previously.”
Li said online learning allows for increased flexibility for students, and often, lower tuition rates.

“Online degrees provide many students with the ability to continue working while earning a degree to enhance their career prospects,” Li said. “This makes online degrees more accessible and financially feasible.”

Pannier said there are advantages for some students, but it depends on the situation when it comes to getting a degree online versus getting a degree on campus.

“For some types of students, it can be a challenge to commute to campus and take courses in a traditional classroom setting,” Pannier said. “Online courses are advantageous for those students in that it allows them to pursue their educational goals, while still addressing family and work obligations.”

Li said in order to be considered for the group’s by-state rankings, schools need to be regionally accredited and need to offer at least one fully online degree at the bachelor’s level.

“The rankings were based on an internal formula that takes into account mid-career median salary data from PayScale and manually researched tuition rates in order to recognize schools with a positive return on investment,” Li said.

Pannier said he doesn’t know if we will ever be at a place where school is in a completely online format.

“There are definitely good candidates for online learning and others who learn more effectively through different methods — this will likely always be the case,” Pannier said. “There are also some disciplines and subjects that don’t translate well to a fully online experience. However, I do believe that effective online options will increase and that you will see more hybrid approaches to education.”

Li said both learning styles, i.e., online and face-to-face, have their own merits and choosing one over the other really depends on a student’s preference.

“We believe that online education allows for increased flexibility, so students can continue learning and growing their career prospects on their own schedules,” Li said. “Additionally, many online programs now allow for interactions with both professors and fellow students through streaming, live chats and messaging.”

Pannier said he believes the reason why UWO was ranked No. 8 is because we recognize that students in online courses have unique sets of needs, motivations and challenges.

“We have dedicated services for these students that provide catered support to online students,” Pannier said. “We ensure that students have the tools and resources necessary to be successful, such as online advising, online library research assistance, remote writing-center access and many other services.”

Li said many students prefer the online learning platform for their education experience.

“With the increasing number of online degree programs and increased access to technology in today’s world, it’s becoming easier to choose a program that fits your specified needs,” Li said.