Why do so many students drop out of online classes?

Online courses require more discipline by students—and more effort by professors and advisers—than traditional courses, educators say.

A study released this month by professors at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., indicates that online students that commonly used retention strategies such as friendly E-mails from professors aren’t enough to keep the students from giving up and dropping out. “Students’ expectations are misaligned with what online learning actually is,” says Elke Leeds, assistant professor of information systems at Kennesaw State and one of the study’s authors. “They come in thinking that it’s easier. While it can be more convenient, the truth is you have to be self motivated; you have to be dedicated.”

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