It’s definitely smart to ask if online degrees are any good before you sign up for a program and invest your time and money in going to college. In fact, the truth is that it’s smart to question the real value of any degree, online or on campus before committing to a big new step in your education. Click To List Of Well-Known Online Colleges & Universities
Why Online Degrees Keep Growing in Popularity
All online programs tend to offer key benefits:
- Affordability: Studying online can save you a good deal of money because they eliminate the need for you to pay for a dormitory room on campus. That’s big, because room and board can account for as much as half the cost of attending a traditional university.
- Career-Focused: Online degree programs tend to be aimed very much at career development. If you look at the degree programs offered online by older ground-based schools like the University of Southern New Hampshire or by schools without campuses like Northcentral University, they all tend to focus on teaching you skills to get you hired. Although some people do get online degrees in English or Art History, the vast majority of online programs are in Business, Psychology, Nursing, Technology or other career-oriented specialties. That’s one of the big reasons that online degree programs have continued to get more and more popular over recent decades.
According to a report from the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, the number of students taking online courses is rising in spite of the fact that overall college enrollments are going down to due demographic changes. According to the study, over 2.9 million college students are now enrolled in exclusively online programs and another 3.3 million students are doing at least some online study toward their degree.
That should put your mind at least a bit at ease when you go into a job interview. If you’re unsure that your online degree is credible and respected, keep in mind that there’s a strong chance that the person interviewing you has taken at least some online courses themselves toward a degree or certification, and that they don’t consider it unusual at all. A study by Western Governors University professor Calvin D. Fogle concluded that “Respondents’ (hiring managers interviewed in the study) attitudes towards online education are significantly more positive if the respondent has had experience with online education.”
On top of that, you should be aware that many companies today are actually insisting that their employees take online training of some type as part of their job function. Everything from a tech platform update to some type of corporate sensitivity training may involve employees being informed that they have to attend an online seminar or complete a test on the Internet to prove that they’ve learned a new skill.
Online Credential Standard In Some Careers
It’s also true that in some specialties – nursing is probably the strongest example – online bachelor degrees are actually becoming more the norm than the exception. Another example of a field where an online degree can be the best for getting a job is technology. If you choose to study anything from coding to web development through an online-only school, there’s a good likelihood that tech companies will think it’s totally normal that you attended college online. As a June 2019 article in Investopedia states: “If you’re in an Internet/new media field, studies show that 70% of online degrees are seen as legitimate.”
If you fear that your online degree has an automatic stigma attached to it, or that the people you encounter in the job market will doubt that it’s valid, make sure you choose a college with some key criteria in mind:
Top Issue Determining if An Online Degree Is Credible
A key question any company will want to know about before hiring you is whether or not your degree came from an accredited college. You want to make sure your school is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the United States Department of Education. The accreditation that most companies will be aware of is that of CHEA, which gives regional accreditation. There are several national accreditation agencies with varying levels of respectability as well as professional groups like CCNE and ACEN, which give accreditation to nursing school programs. It’s worth taking the time to find out which accreditations other than the regional type may or may not be looked on favorably in your job category.
School Reputation Versus Your Particular Degree
For most job interviewers, figuring out whether your online degree is credible starts with looking at the particular degree you have. According to a study by Silva, Lourtie and Aires, higher learning “should not be judged based on where it was received but the skills received.” That’s why it’s critical – before you start your studies – to identify a degree that will make it possible to get the kind of job that will pay a salary that justifies several years of college study. Many prospective students have trouble looking at this issue clearly when they’re shopping for colleges. And while there’s nothing wrong with getting an online degree in social studies or philosophy, you need to go in with your eyes wide open about the fact that those degrees probably won’t put you in the kind of earning position you’ll get from a business degree.
Thinking very specifically can help you get that first job after college. If you’re looking at online business degrees, find out if your school offers a business degree with a sub specialty in supply chain logistics, technology leadership, data analytics or another valued competency. Try to learn about what companies exist in the area where you want to live and what kind of specific expertise they hire for. The more you look before leaping into a degree program, the more chance it’s going to produce real value for you over the long run.
Is an Online Degree From a Local School a Good Idea?
Getting your online degree from a school with a campus in your region can be beneficial in some cases. The University of Massachusetts, for example, has a vast number of online students spread out over the world. But if you live in Massachusetts, you may get an added benefit from the fact that the hiring manager who interviews you will have a basic comfort level with the school simply because he or she has heard about it for years. It’s also true that local alumni networks can be very powerful. If you interview with a company near your college – even if you took an online degree there – there’s always a chance that other alumni of your school work at the company and like to help out new graduates. (Keep in mind, by the way, that many of the schools people normally associate with pure online education like University of Phoenix and Walden University do actually operate campuses in addition to their distance learning programs.) In fact, it doesn’t hurt to do a little research before your interview to find out if anyone in the company did attend your school.
Name recognition for a school can also work at a national level, where older, traditional American colleges can sometimes have a leg up in terms of reputation over newer for-profit or 100% distance learning schools. Hiring managers across the country are likely to have some familiarity, for example, with an old name like Purdue, which now operates all of Kaplan’s former programs. They may be aware of a Catholic school like Benedictine, which has a big online offering and has been around since 1887, even if they’re not located anywhere near it.
If Your Online School is 400 Miles Away
Some education websites say that an hiring interviewer will probably figure out that you got your degree online if your school is a long way from where you live. While that’s possible, it doesn’t really jibe with the reality of most higher education today. Students routinely travel to colleges and universities far from their homes, and it’s not at all a sure thing that having a distant school on your resume will tip anyone off that you were an online student.
Handling Tough Questions About Your Online Degree
To begin with, you are generally under no obligation to reveal on a job application or a cover letter that you got your degree online. But if it comes up, it’s important to realize that you can make a big difference in an interviewer’s perception of your degree if you learn to talk about your school, your motivation and your career goals in a way that makes you look like a smart candidate.There are some typical objections you should be ready to “bat back” in order to get a job with your online degree. Studies have shown that some hiring managers think online degrees don’t give students the best problem-solving skills and don’t develop social skills because students never actually sit in a room with their teachers or with each other.
Develop a “pitch” to tell them why you believed that an online degree was an excellent choice and the unique skills it’s given you. Some key points can help you make the case that your online degree was worth it:
Are Online Degrees Too Easy?
This is a question someone may not ask directly, even though he or she may have it in the back of their mind. But you should be well qualified to deal with this issue. After all, you learned in classrooms during high school and may have taken some classroom-based college courses before starting your online program. You can compare your own experiences of online and traditional learning and let the company know that you feel your online degree program was rigorous and taught you what you need to succeed in the job world. Showing a positive attitude about your degree can have a real impact on the attitude of the person interviewing you.
- Your Technology Advantage as an Online Degree Grad: Many companies struggle to find job candidates who are comfortable using a variety of computer and online applications. Emphasize that your online degree program has made you comfortable not only with the internet, but with using digital forums, online video and complex learning applications. That can help telegraph that you’ll be able to quickly pick up programs like Salesforce, Google Docs, Powerpoint or other applications that track everything from company website traffic to product delivery and customer satisfaction. Make the point that getting a college degree online has made you tech-savvy.
- Collaboration Platforms: Project management has become a big part of many jobs as companies in all businesses scramble to compete with each other to have the best websites, deal with customer complaints and deliver quality products online. Collaborative work platforms like Basecamp, WorkZone, Trello and others are used on a regular basis to help the various departments of a company stay organized in the development or improvement of company digital products. The familiarity you gain digital collaboration through an online degree program in working with other students and with professors should be portrayed as making you more comfortable than many other job candidates with participating in group projects online.
- Learning Discipline and Time Management in An Online Program: According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only about sixty percent of American college students who start a bachelor’s degree finish it – and that’s within six years, at residential or online schools. If you were able to complete a degree online, it shows you have a good deal of self-discipline and time management skill. After all, when you take a degree program online, there’s nobody standing over you to make sure you pay attention or get to your classes. And if you’re an adult with a job and children, as many online learners are, your degree can offer strong proof that you know how to manage your work and life commitments effectively. A potential boss may like to hear, for example, that you’re used to handling work issues that come up outside normal business hours when the need arises.
Picking the Online Degree a Hiring Company Will Respect
Hopefully you have obtained a degree that’s targeted at the career path you’re interviewing for. That will be an advantage whether you got a campus or online degree. Managers with jobs to offer frequently have to interview job candidates that didn’t think very clearly about what they wanted to do in life before they started school. As a result, they have a tough time connecting the dots between a candidate’s educational background and the job they’re hiring for. If you come in as a graduate who has carefully planned your career direction and obtained a degree that prepares you for it very specifically, you can come out looking smart with an online or a traditional degree in hand.
Self-Motivation: In order to pass your school tests without face-to-face training by a professor, it’s necessary to be good at studying and preparing all on your own. Being self-motivated like that – rather than being someone who simply takes orders effectively, is something that many companies place a value on. With employees working virtually from home or traveling constantly, the company can have a real need to hire people who can motivate themselves to get the job done all on their own. You can help make the point about your personal drive with a quote by online degree graduate Maureen Johnson in U.S. News “I had to be self-sufficient…There was no hand-holding.”
Career Re-Start: If you’re an adult learner, there’s a good chance that you went and got your online degree to make a career change or move your current career to a new level. Many managers will recognize that this is a far more valid reason to get a degree than many young students have. who simply go to college because their families can pay for it and it’s the typical thing to do at their age. Millennials who have come out of traditional colleges in recent years have a very mixed reputation among major corporations. Many companies consider them, frankly, a bit spoiled. You should feel confident the point that you went after your online degree with a very specific career goal in mind and now you’re ready to work towards that goal.
Key Points on the Quality of Online Degrees
In 2010 The U.S. Department of Education released a study of online learning. Among it’s most interesting conclusions are that courses that are taught either partly or completely online result in better student learning that those delivered strictly through traditional in-classroom teaching with a live professor. Amazingly, this study also concluded that among face-to-face learning, blending online and classroom study and pure online learning, face to face learning appears to be the least effective.
To make your case that your online degree was worth it, be aware of these key factors: