Online learning has come a long way and people are starting to take notice.
According to a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, employers are more widely recognizing the value of online degrees. While online degrees still have some catching up to do compared to the perception of traditionally earned degrees, many companies grasp the fact that online learning is rapidly improving in quality and delivery.
Is an online degree a real degree?
To ensure that any online degree you're seeking is legit, it's important to ensure that the school is properly accredited. The U.S. Department of Education has a database that lists all accredited schools, so that should be your first stop when considering a school.
But it's important to know that most online degree holders must complete the same program of study required by in-person learners. In addition, online degree seekers must generally pass rigorous competency tests to demonstrate mastery of specific concepts.
Can I get an online degree from a traditional college?
Brick-and-mortar schools are offering more online options than ever before. In fact, many ivy league institutions are getting into the online space.
However, not all online courses of study confer degrees. Be sure to carefully investigate which credentials can be earned through your preferred program. Also, keep in mind that some brick-and-mortar schools require a certain portion of your studies to be completed on-campus in order to to earn your degree.
Do employers respect online degrees?
According to recruiters interviewed for the U.S. News article, it seems that employers are more interested in whether you've earned a degree, rather than focusing on where the degree came from.
And, in fact, recruiters say that there's a good chance they won't know that a degree was earned online.
However, if this is a concern during a job interview, it's a good idea to be prepared with some basic facts about your education. For example, "My university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which is the same accreditation held by the University of Michigan."
It's also wise to be prepared with an answer about why you chose online education. For example: "I decided to work full-time while going back to school so I could reduce the amount of student loan debt I needed to take on."
Some recruiters claim that online-study could be a positive in a job candidate's favor, because it showed a willingness to work hard, be flexible, and multi-task.
Are you considering an online degree?
Wherever you decide to go to school, be sure to investigate all of your financial aid options. Use our step-by-step guide to filling out the FAFSA to get started.