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With the help of ground-breaking legislation and progressive state-wide programs, California colleges are embracing online education. California students enjoy a variety of online higher education options: hybrid degree programs, online schools and online programs available from campus-based universities.

Online Schools in California

The state of California remains at the vanguard of online education by incorporating web-based learning in state-wide education programs at all stages of development, including high school and college.

In fact, to help prepare high school students for college courses, the California Department of Education (cde.ca.gov) has created the Early Assessment Program (EAP), a voluntary program designed to identify student readiness for college-level English and math. Based on student performance on the EAP exam, each student's specific opportunities for improvement are identified. Once they've identified areas to focus on, college-bound students can access online college-prep tools from the California State University (CSU) system and California Community Colleges that can help improve their skills and ready them for the rigor of college coursework on university campuses, hybrid programs, or online colleges in California.

Trends in California Online Schools

Online and web-based learning is on the rise. In fact, recent research from the Sloan Consortium (sloanconsortium.org) found that 60 percent of private-sector colleges and universities in the U.S. have incorporated online learning in their institution's long-term strategies. As online education becomes a mainstream aspect of higher education, colleges are adopting a mix of technology in hopes of improving the student experience in traditional college classrooms as well as in online programs.

In fact, a historic bill was just passed in the California Senate (senate.ca.gov) for the establishment of the free online California Digital Library, a resource of 50 online textbooks (the most widely used books in common lower-division courses) that can be used by campus and online schools in California. These resources can be updated and customized by professors, and used for free by students throughout the state instead of printed books. This legislation will save students money and provide valuable resources for students and teachers at online college in California.

College Degrees in California

The California Department of Education (cde.ca.gov) recently shared a report titled "Higher Education and Secondary Alignment," which the Transition Advisory Team released in 2011 and referenced data collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov). According to the report, only 38.6 percent of adult Californians had a college degree in 2011. Moreover, due to projected job growth, the report identified that the state moved from needing one third of all students to graduate from college, to needing two thirds of all students to graduate from college in order to fill the white collar positions predicted to open in California by 2025.

Since jobs in professional, service, administrative and sales areas are projected to rise between 17 and 19 percent between 2008 and 2018 (bls.gov), unless the percentage of Californians with college degrees increases by 2025, the delta between college graduates and the job's recruiting them will be dramatically larger than it is today. To help meet the state's growing demand for educated professionals, colleges and online schools in California are working to offer scalable, accessible courses and degree programs to California students: and a lot of the growth is happening online.

California Colleges Move Online

To help meet the growing need for higher education offerings, California schools and colleges are offering a growing number of courses, programs and degrees online. For example, the University of California (uconline.edu) just launched an online course catalog in 2012. Students can take courses, like pre-calculus, and work to earn credits designed to transfer toward degree programs on UC campuses. Beyond just coursework, CSU Extended University (calstate.edu/extension) has developed select degree programs, certificates and courses available, for the most part, entirely online. Some degrees available through the California State University program include an online bachelor's degree in criminal justice as well as an online master's degree in education.

Similarly, UC Berkeley Extension (extension.berkeley.edu/online) delivers online courses, certificates and specialized programs. Their robust catalog of courses includes: online paralegal courses, online marketing classes and online IT coursework: They even offer an online IT certificate in information systems and management. In addition to the online courses and degree programs offered through primarily campus-based schools like CSU or UC Berkeley, students can also research online institutions like Ashford University and Altierus Career College to pursue a variety of online degrees in California at the associate, bachelor's, master's and even doctoral level.

Additional Sources:
A Blueprint for Great Schools, Transition Advisory Team Report, 2011 
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/oco/oco2003.htm
California Department of Education, 2011, www.cde.ca.gov
Online Learning Trends in Private-Sector Colleges and Universities, Jeff Seaman, March 2011
2012 Early Assessment Program, California Community Colleges, www.cccco.edu/eap

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