By SARA PLUMMER Tulsa World Staff Writer on Jun 12, 2013, at 1:58 AM Updated on 6/12/13 at 8:22 AM
Student Margaret O’Brien (center) asks a question Tuesday as Sara Affify (left) and Sarah Hetherington, all of Tulsa, listen during a sociology class at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa. OSU-Tulsa will begin offering financial incentives to students who take classes on campus instead of online courses. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Administrators at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa say there are benefits to taking a college course in a classroom, and they are willing to put money on it.
Starting in the fall, OSU-Tulsa will offer $250 tuition waivers to undergraduate and graduate students in an effort to get people to take more classes on campus instead of online.
The “Get Here” tuition waiver is available for undergraduate students with a 2.0 grade-point average and taking at least 15 hours on campus and graduate students with a 3.0 grade-point average taking nine hours on campus.
Raj Basu, vice president of academic affairs at OSU-Tulsa, said the more hours students take, the more likely they are to finish their degree, which is the ultimate goal.
“There’s a clear value added for the student to come to class. We’re willing to take a financial hit,” Basu said. “They’ve got children. They’ve got a spouse. They’ve got a job. They need more incentives.”
For some students, the only way they can take classes is with the online option, Basu said. Others, however, choose online courses out of convenience, not realizing the benefits of in-classroom instruction.
“There’s value added when you come to class – the connection to fellow students, connection to the instructor,” he said.
Brianna Young obtained her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees by taking a combination of on-site and online courses at Tulsa Community College and then all online courses at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.
She said she sees the benefits and disadvantages of both, especially when her husband was also going to school.
“For a busy person like me with two kids at home,” online courses were a great choice, Young said. “Being able to take more online made it possible to take classes at the same time as him.”
There were times, though, when Young said she would have preferred being in a classroom.
“I tried to take a math class online at TCC and failed miserably,” she said. “I ended up taking it in class.”
People who take only online courses also miss out on the college experience, she said.
Young likes the idea of offering incentives to students to be in the classroom.
“Especially for younger students, it’s a great idea,” she said. “I don’t think people are as social as they should be. This would get them interacting. Taking classes on campus – I would have much rather have done that for the experience”
Online courses continue to grow in popularity. At OSU-Tulsa, total enrollment has increased 25 percent, almost entirely online, Basu said, with 20 percent of student credit hours being taken online.
People who can take classes on site shouldn’t dismiss the advantages, he said.
“This is not saying, ‘Don’t take online courses,’ ” Basu said. “For some, it’s the only option available. (But) they’ll miss out. We don’t want people to miss out.”
With online classes, students watch the class and read the notes online, and communication with the professor or other students is via email or messaging.
“Onsite, you can ask that question that’s in your mind,” Basu said. “Ten other people respond to that. Spontaneous interaction – that’s the thing that’s missing.”
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465 firstname.lastname@example.org