Online Education, Students of Color, and Access to Higher Education


Many people of color simply have circumstances that do not allow them to attend traditional brick and mortar higher education institutions. Fortunately, higher education has a strong online presence. Most traditional colleges and universities now offer some type of training and/or undergraduate and graduate degrees online. For example, at the University of Arkansas (www.uark.edu), one can select from a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs (even doctoral degree programs). For students looking to attend a historically Black college or university, Albany State University (www.asurams.edu) offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online. Another traditional brick and mortar university that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees online is Troy University (www.troy.edu). For people of color looking to pursue higher education and need to benefit from the flexibility of not having to attend a college or university in person, I highly recommend you consider attending a college or university online. You may be thinking that you could attend college if only you could have the flexibility of not having to attend classes physically. This may be the thought of some people who think that their current jobs would interfere with them attending college.

In a post-affirmative action society, many students of color should really consider online education as a means of receiving training in higher education. You may not have the funds to live on campus, so it may benefit you to attend the college or university you plan to attend online. If you want to participate in student activities on campus, you can always drive to the physical campus—if the institution is near you.

One of the strongest reasons why I think online education can be one of the best ways to improve access to higher education is it reduces costs that accompany physically attending a college or university. For example, if you are attending college online, then you don’t have to worry about parking costs, increased fuel costs, having transportation to and from school, room and board expenses, and etc. For many people of color, these significant savings can make the difference in their ability to attend college.

Some acts of racism can be avoided by attending classes online. If you attend a predominantly White institution online, then you could avoid campus issues that involve race in undesirable ways.

For those interested in attending completely online universities that do not have challenging admission standards, then you might want to consider Walden University (www.waldenu.edu) and Argosy University (www.argosy.edu). Those two online universities are accredited by the same accreditors who accredit an elite university like the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Walden University and Argosy University are two quality online universities that some students of color who have not performed well coming out of high school or even undergrad should consider.

I am not trying to promote online education as the panacea to problems that students of color have with gaining increased access to higher education. Online education, however, is something we should consider when thinking about how to improve access to higher education for students of color.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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3 comments

  1. I’ve taken a few classes online and I didn’t really enjoy them. I wouldn’t promote going to school online. Something about the classroom does it for me.

    But if these circumstances, you speak of, really effect those wanting to attend school in a traditional form, well this alternative isn’t THAT bad.

    1. I, too, have taken some courses online and I would have to say that I just appreciate the overall experience of being in the physical classroom better than the online classroom environment. My purpose in this article is to let people know that they can get their degrees online, and that, in many cases, they can obtain their degrees at reduced costs and with more flexibility than attending a physical institution. I contend that the student needs to attend a physical institution to gain the total student experience, but going online is an option that has to be promoted to give access to many people of color who just cannot attend a physical institution for various reasons. Thanks for reading and your response.

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