Going to college has certainly taken on many different connotations these days. Back in the last century, I had the good fortune of being able to attend a small Jesuit college in Kansas City, Missouri, because I was geographically diverse, having attended a regional Catholic high school in southern New Jersey. I was not the highest achieving student in my class, but was offered scholarship assistance and a welcoming atmosphere from supportive classmates living away from home for the first time as well. Most of them were from the Midwest and I owe much to their generosity and friendship. They were very intrigued to be meeting someone from New Jersey for the first time! And vice versa for me.
Now you can “go to college” in a many different variety of ways. Online is certainly a more convenient and assuredly a less expensive way for many. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. But what kind of degree or certification of mastery do you receive at the completion of the online course requirements alone? Some universities offer a “Statement of Accomplishment,” or other documentation of course/program completion online. The “treasured” diploma still seems reserved for those who pay tuition (receive scholarships, take out loans, etc.), and attend four years on a college campus.
There may be many other variations on this theme of higher education now being made available to many more students through online learning. Because of our technological connectivity, we are obviously expanding opportunities for many more learners of all ages anywhere they may be. This is a new day, presenting many more educational opportunities for citizens of the twenty-first century. They will not have to take a Greyhound bus half-way across the country and learn to live in a new place and make new “connections.” I was lucky.