More Utah State University students find it beneficial to take courses online — sometimes in combination with traditional classes — according to Robert Wagner, director of USU Regional Campuses and Distance Education. Retaining students in online classes continues to be emphasized, Wagner said, and recently for the first time, online tutoring became available, which has proven beneficial. “We’re making great strides and improvements in our retention efforts to make sure that students — whether they’re taking a traditional course or taking a distance course — that they’re getting the help they need,” Wagner said. According to the Regional Campuses and Distance Education annual report, enrollment in distance education has increased by nearly half since 2006. Wagner said many students take online classes because of scheduling conflicts. Mark Ashcraft, a senior majoring in psychology who only takes online classes, said online classes are easier to fit around his work schedule. After transferring to USU from Brigham Young University-Idaho two years ago, he made the transition from mostly traditional classes to all online. He said he works full-time, and online classes are easier and more convenient because he saves time not having to travel to and from campus. Alex Kim, a senior in majoring biology, took online courses during summer semesters so she could move home and continue coursework required for her major. For her, the difficulty level was the same as traditional classroom courses, and she said one of the highest grades she’s gotten at USU was for an online class. Jacie Stratford, a senior majoring in elementary education who took an online class while attending traditional classes at USU, said though an online class was convenient, she prefers the in-class experience.
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