Online Schools in Virginia
The Virginia Department of Education has been employing distance education to reach rural and under-served students since the 1980s. Since then, the program has evolved into Virtual Virginia, an online school offering everything from basic courses all the way up to Advanced Placement and foreign language courses (virtualvirginia.org). The goal of the state's Standards of Learning (SOL) Technology Initiative is to ensure that students have access to computers and high-speed Internet at every public school in the state (doe.virginia.gov).
Trends in Virginia Online Schools
With some of its educational institutions older than the United States itself, Virginia has an interesting mix of old-school traditions and dedication to helping prepare graduating students for success in tomorrow's workforce. Virginia recently demonstrated its commitment to online education by passing legislation to expand the reach of online education and help prepare students for the 21st-century job market. Known as the "Opportunity to Learn" agenda, this legislation's goal is to put an additional $438 million into Virginia's public education system through 2014. This increased funding is going in part to the establishment of virtual schools and college lab partnerships in an effort to prepare Virginia students for a high-tech future (educationnews.org).
College Degrees in Virginia
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov), Virginia has one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates, coming in at 5.7 percent in October of 2012 -- two full percentage points below the national average. This bodes well for graduates of colleges in Virginia who are thinking about staying in-state after commencement. The state is home to slightly more than 3.7 million workers, many of whom find themselves in Virginia's top industries (as of October 2012), including government; professional and business services; trade, transportation and utilities; and education and health services (bls.gov/eag.va.htm). Many of these occupations require an educated workforce.
Online Colleges in Virginia
Home to some of the oldest universities in the nation, Virginia includes a wide range of traditional and new options for higher education, including many brick-and-mortar schools that also offer online programs. Some of the well-known schools that are now doubling as online colleges in Virginia include:
- College of William and Mary. Ranked 33rd of all universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report (colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com), the College of William and Mary, founded in 1693, is the second-oldest college in the U.S. The university offers numerous not-for-credit, free online classes and resources.
- University of Richmond. A private school founded in 1830, the University of Richmond is ranked 28th of all liberal arts universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report (colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com). The university offers numerous professional development and continuing education classes online and has more than 75 different study-abroad programs.
- University of Virginia. This public school was founded in 1819 and is ranked in the top 25 universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report (colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com). The school has created an online education task force and has conducted a number of studies and surveys, all in an effort to improve and grow its online offerings.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economy at a Glance: Virginia, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.va.htm
Education News, "McDonnell Announces New Agenda for Virginia Schools," Education News, January 17, 2012, http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/mcdonnell-announces-new-agenda-for-virginia-schools/
U.S. News & World Report, University of Richmond, 2012, http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-richmond-3744
Virginia Department of Education, Virginia's SOL Technology Initiative, 2012, http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/technology/sol_technology_initiative/index.shtml
Virtual Virginia, About Us, 2012, http://www.virtualvirginia.org/aboutus/index.html