EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 19, 2014

SNHU emerging as online education leader

President expects to top 35,000 students this year

Lindsey Rice comes home from work, makes sure the kids are fed and put to bed, then it’s off to college — in her living room.

The 26-year-old mother of three, ages 8 months to 8 years, powers up a laptop to check her assignments, interact with classmates through discussion boards and see what her instructors have to say.

Her college, Southern New Hampshire University, is about 20 minutes up the highway, but Rice doesn’t have to go there.

She is part of the university’s worldwide, online enrollment that SNHU president Paul LeBlanc says is expected to top 35,000 this year. That compares to an on-campus enrollment of 2,900 for the university that straddles the Manchester-Hooksett town line.

LeBlanc said SNHU’s online enrollment is the fastest growing in the nation the past two years.

Rice is glad to be part of it.

“SNHU has been amazing for me,” Rice said. “I can have more time with my family. I can work at my own pace.”

She enrolled at SNHU to complete prerequisite courses for nursing school.

“My ultimate goal is being an R.N.,” said Rice, a medical assistant.

Many students share Rice’s opinion about SNHU and online learning. A survey of students showed 95 percent would recommend online learning to others.

Enrollment online has soared from 2,000 five years ago.

SNHU started building the enrollment eight to 10 years ago, after watching adult learners moving to online platforms.

Developing the online program, for a school that always reached out to adult learners, made sense.

“It works so much better for adults,” LeBlanc said.

Innovation is key

The university isn’t afraid of innovation; it has operated satellite campuses for years, including one in Salem.

“It’s part of our DNA,” LeBlanc said.

Victoria Czaia, 49, of Atkinson graduated from SNHU with an online degree in public administration.

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