There was a time when online college degrees were still regarded as an alternative education. Sure, students completed their assignments and obtained their degrees, but with no in-class attendance and no brick-and-mortar presence, some employers failed to regard an online degree as equal to one obtained from a traditional university program. But as remote learning steadily increased over the years, online degrees began to earn more respect.And then, along came COVID19. Virtually overnight—pun intended—elementary schools went to Zoom classroom formats; employees, instead of commuting to the office, traveled to their living rooms to put in their hours; and online colleges and universities which already had a remote-learning program in place, switched their instruction pattern. But for the more than two million students pursuing an online degree, there was no abrupt upheaval in their education.
COVID19 has taught professors and students the value of the remote learning model. But many students wonder whether their online degree will earn them the same respect that a student who graduated from a traditional university expects to receive when the process of sending out resumes and setting up interviews begins.
Online degree students can breathe a sigh of relief. Prospective employers have learned what the U.S. Department of Education has already confirmed: Not only does “the effectiveness of online learning approaches appear quite broad across different content and learner types” but “students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.”
Employers recognize that a student pursuing an online degree is a person who may have had to learn how to manage the competing demands of employment and family in order to find the time to obtain a degree. The student who has done that is capable of prioritizing tasks and responsibilities, something which is of value not only in the classroom, but also in the workplace.
In fact, a 2019 study by Northeastern University revealed the following facts: 61% of Human Resources management personnel agree that online learning is of equal or greater quality to the more traditional format. 71% of employers had hired an online degree graduate in the last 12 months. 52% feel that the future will see most advanced degrees obtained online. 33% believe that online education, with the assistance of technology, will eventually be superior to the more traditional in-person instruction.
Some of the credit for that improvement in how online programs are viewed can be attributed to the schools themselves. In an interview with U.S. News and World Report, Decision Toolbox’s Chief Recruitment Officer Nicole Cox explained, "Schools got better at the delivery models, and hiring managers, particularly in the technology industries, became much more comfortable with it,"
But what about the employer who doesn’t realize that an online degree attests to the same level of instruction as any other degree? How can a graduate from an online program compete with applicants from traditional universities if the employer is biased toward the latter?Here are some things that will convince prospective employers that your online degree has provided you with the education and background that they’re seeking for the position:
Is your online program accredited? Accreditation by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Accreditation confirms that the institution meets specific educational standards.
What were your reasons for choosing an online degree program? For some students, many of whom may be adults, the flexibility of an online education allows them to save time on commuting that can be put to better use in the workplace or attending to their families. A student who has a full-time job or children has to set priorities for time management, making online classes especially advantageous.
Were you able to develop and hone collaborative skills? Employers are looking for team players. Being an online student does not isolate you from other students; there are opportunities for students to engage in group projects.
Did you interact with other students in the online program? The university environment, whether traditional or online, is a realm where diversity thrives. Students become exposed to people of other cultures, races, gender identities and backgrounds. Diversity can introduce students to ways of solving problems that do not rely on worn-out methods.
Selling Your Employer On Your Online Degree
What are the aspects of your degree that will be the most useful for the job you are applying for? If you’ve participated in career development sessions offered by your online program, you’ll be able to identify what you bring to this job.
What were the skills that you gained from the online program? Did you advance your project management talents? Did you enhance your knowledge of computer technology? Whatever talents you developed or improved are something that supports the success of your online learning.
Do you recognize features of your online program that were assets to your learning? By completing an online program and obtaining your degree, you have proved that you are:-
1) adroit in handling the technology that is required for remote learning;
2) skilled at managing your time and completing your assignments and meeting deadlines; and
3) able to work independently to meet a goal. All of these traits will come in handy in the workplace.
Ultimately, the success of the interview depends upon how well you present yourself to your future employer. Your online degree has gotten you the interview; now it’s up to you to do the rest. Take pride in the degree you have obtained and show your employer that you’re going to be a valuable asset to the company.