There are many reasons why some would-be students don't quite make the leap to university education.
Sometimes it may be financial reasons, or it could be a lack of self-confidence. For those that are frightened at the prospect, the Open University is now playing a part in assisting these would-be students.
Founded by the British government, the Open University has enjoyed success with over 600 free online courses ranging from Humanities to Computing, potentially encouraging users to progress and enrol on formal degree courses. For students that are not confident enough or uncomfortable with the concept of campus study, Open University courses create another method of gaining a recognised degree qualification.
You are able to study using distance-based methods. Seminar attendance is generally not required, unless the classes in question are voluntary and for exam preparation.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, based in Seattle, has invested $750,000 in order to adopt and adapt two Open University courses for use by a dozen American colleges over 2012, including the University of Maryland University college. The aim is to help students smash through barriers which otherwise prevent them from further study.
Patrick McAndrew, Open University’s associate director for learning and teaching said: "The idea is to help people who are put off by the system."
One of the free Open University courses on offer to U.S students prepares for college with a range of core study skills.
The other focuses on a subject that causes many students nightmares: mathematics. The course is designed in order to allow would-be students to improve their confidence, and prevent them falling at the hurdle of remedial math classes that may prevent them from entering university education.
Many U.S students are required to take remedial classes before even considering university options, and these types of courses may be a means in which students can study in their own time and take pressure off their shoulders. It also provides a solution for those that may not be able to support the extensive time and financial burden of remedial classes that do not count for academic credit.
Online learning is already a popular concept in the West, and China has now become the latest disciple to its philosophy. Although distance-based courses may be considered limiting and missing some of the more beneficial aspects of traditional classroom-based courses, we should remember that it is not for everyone.
For those that may otherwise not attend university due to the strain and pressure of preliminary remedial courses, these new free options may make all the difference.
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