A top concern of prospective students considering an online degree is if employers look at an online degree as favorably as a traditional one. And the answer is yes. Online degrees from legitimate colleges and universities offer the same high-quality educational standards and learning opportunities as their traditional counterparts. But the operative word here is legitimate and for good reason. Accreditation validates your degree so that employers will give your education the attention it deserves. However, accreditation isn’t the only indicator of quality. When it comes time to interview, make sure you have more to sell than just a degree.
It’s easy. Start by visiting this site: Database of Accredited Programs and Institutions. Here you’ll have access to The Department of Education searchable database of “postsecondary institutions and programs accredited by accrediting agencies or state approval agencies recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education.” What’s more, “The Department believes that the list will be a helpful tool for employers evaluating education credentials and for consumers making decisions about postsecondary institutions to attend.” So here’s the deal. Not all online schools are created equal, and choosing the right school protects your time, money, and improves your chances of getting the job you want when you graduate.
For added piece of mind, visit this site while you’re at it: The U.S. News and World Report ranks the top online degree programs for easy assessment.
Choose the Right School
Once you’ve verified a school’s accreditation, make sure the school you wish to attend will adequately prepare you for the job you want. Does the program offer the courses you need? Does the school offer an internship program or help students find an internship opportunity? In order to make your online degree even more marketable, sell the quality of your education by taking full advantage of the career services offered at your school. Employers look for candidates with industry knowledge and experience. This will help moderate the risk of a potential employer overlooking your resume. An accredited, reputable online college or university will offer the same services to its students you would expect from a traditional, on-campus school.
Emphasize the Benefits
If you land an interview and the hiring manager questions the validity of your online degree, it’s time to emphasize the many benefits of online study and why you’re a strong candidate because of the experience. As an online student, you most likely mastered a few essential skills that employers look for, including:
- Time Management: It’s not easy balancing work, family, and school obligations. And earning a degree online requires exceptional time management as you’ll be required to enroll and complete your courses when it’s most convenient for you. Setting aside time each day to study and to check in with your classmates and professors is on you and you only.
- Self-Discipline: In order for you earn your degree online, you need to have tremendous self-discipline. Online programs are pretty flexible when it comes to scheduling, which means that you have to set your own goals and meet them accordingly. Remind employers that self-discipline is the ultimate path towards success and that online study enhanced your ability to self-direct and work independently. If you completed your online degree while working a full-time job or taking care of a family, brag about it! It’s not easy running a household or going to work every day while juggling a full course load.
- Technology Acumen: In order to take classes online, you need to know how to use a computer, navigate the Internet, and access Web-based course management applications such as Blackboard. Technology acumen is needed more than ever in today’s workforce, and by taking classes online, you’ll learn some incredibly useful technological and computing skills.
In order to be a successful online student, you have to manage your time well and keep yourself disciplined. Otherwise, you’ll fall behind. And while these skills are also essential for the traditional college student, distance learning requires motivation and commitment for self study. So when an employer inquires about your online degree, emphasize how you effectively managed a diverse array of tasks. You gained valuable Internet and technology skills AND attended a school that’s recognized by the same accrediting bodies that govern the Ivy League schools. Earning a degree online is no small feat so don’t sell yourself, or your degree, short!