Opinion: Op-Ed: Higher education is possible for all, but different approaches may be needed


For Rhode Islanders in the Blackstone Valley communities, access to higher education can be difficult. What’s worse and because of the pandemic, Rhode Island in 2020 saw a 8.1 percent drop in college students, twice the national average. This deepens to an alarming 14.2 percent decline in segmentation into four-year private nonprofit colleges. This does not bode well for future students who want to secure or improve their careers, nor for our state as a whole.

Higher education is the key for many people who want to open the door to future success. But the cost of tuition, time required, travel and housing costs and other limiting factors prevent many from taking advantage of this proven path to success.

Rhode Island College and New England College of Engineering continue to provide a life-changing education for many, contributing to positive difference for individuals, families and communities. For some people, however, a different approach may make obtaining a degree or certification in a relevant industry more achievable. This is especially true for historically underrepresented communities – including first-generation college students, the low-income population, color students, and working adults.

So what can be done?

Online education is one of the fastest growing segments of higher education in the United States and is the key to access for non-traditional students and students who need to work while receiving higher education.

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