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Students seeking a postsecondary education can look to online degrees in Hawaii for help in developing career-preparation skills. Online programs can provide students with options that can keep them from being tied to a classroom desk or campus setting and that can help them make steps to train for a career.

Online Colleges in Hawaii

Online education is a relatively recent development in the broad history of formal education, but the flexibility and accessibility it provides has helped revolutionize the way students learn. This might be particularly true in Hawaii, where remoteness could have limited some students' college options and the premium cost of island living may require one to spend more time at the office than in the classroom. Today, students can attend online schools in Hawaii without geographical barriers that prevent on-campus class attendance.

The interest in online education has increased over the past decade. According to a 2013 report sponsored by the non-profit Sloan Consortium (sloanconsortium.org) entitled "Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States," the online enrollment rate in the U.S. has grown by 17.3 percent from 2002 to 2011. That compares favorable with an overall higher education enrollment increase of 2.6 percent during the same time. Hawaii is part of this online growth, offering distance learning through its institutions of higher learning.

Trends in Hawaii Online Schools

Online education is moving squarely into the mainstream, and states like Hawaii are part of that movement. Nearly one-third of all college students nationally took at least one online course in 2011. Overall, enrollment rates for online programs grew by 9.3 percent in 2011, according to the Sloan Consortium. However, the road toward digital education has not always been a smooth one. A report from the Council of State Governments (csg.org) suggests that many states were simply not prepared for the rapid growth of online education, and must now address regulatory policies that limit online learning opportunities within their borders. Hawaii is a rare exception.

According to the CSG, unlike most other states, Hawaii does not mandate a lengthy application process for online schools that hope to operate there, and does not charge them fees for seeking this approval. Through this legislative support, Hawaii has embraced online learning and helped clear the way for its residents to take advantage of its potential benefits. Online learning might help Hawaii expand its pool of college-educated workers. This, in turn, could help bolster the state's economic vitality.

Online College Degrees in Hawaii

According to the nonprofit Lumina Foundation (luminafoundation.org), almost 42 percent of adults in Hawaii had at least a two-year degree in 2010 -- nearly four points above the national average -- making the state the 14th most educated in the nation. Yet even with this educational achievement, Lumina indicates that Hawaii students must continue to increase their rate of college graduation if the state is to keep pace with economic demand. According to the report, if Hawaii continues at its current attainment rate 44 percent of adults would hold degrees by 2018. In its report entitled "Help Wanted," however, Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce (georgetown.edu) projects that 51 percent of Hawaiian jobs will require college degrees by that same year.

By making higher education more accessible, especially to students juggling school with career or family obligations, more Hawaiians might be compelled to finish their degrees. This could be especially helpful for those who want to prepare for high-demand fields. According to Hawaii's Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, (hiwi.org) the industries expected to add the most jobs between 2010 and 2020 are education and health services, leisure and hospitality, trade and government. Many of the occupations within these fields require the type of training that online colleges in Hawaii can help to provide.

Online Colleges in Hawaii

Those who want to earn online degrees in Hawaii have a number of institutions to choose from, including the University of Hawaii (hawaii.edu), which provides students many diverse options. According to its official website, the University of Hawaii offers online courses in a breadth of subjects, from art and history to business and science. Online students also have access to a number of support services, including online tutoring, outreach librarians and financial aid. Services and coursework can vary from one campus to the next. For instance, the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Outreach College (outreach.hawaii.edu) hosts a number of credit-bearing online courses, but also several non-credit enrichment or career training courses.

One of the benefits of online education is that it expands the number of postsecondary institutions available to prospective students. Brigham Young University Hawaii (online.byuh.edu) allows students the choice of either attending school fully online, or enrolling in a hybrid program that combines online and campus-based coursework through the BYU-Hawaii extension campus.

Students looking for additional online degree options can research a number of private-sector colleges that serve students across the nation. Thanks to the accessibility of online education, Hawaiians have a multitude of options when it comes to making steps to prepare for tomorrow's workforce.

Sources:
Brigham Young University - Hawaii Online
Department of Labor & Industrial Relations,
Employment Projections for Industries & Occupations, 2010-2020, 2010
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, 2010
Lumina Foundation: A Stronger Nation Through Education
Sloan Consortium, Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United State, 2010
The Council of State Governments
University of Hawaii Distance Learning
University of Hawaii and Manoa Outreach College

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