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The Biggest Problems With Online Degrees

A current main concern about online degreesis whether an online degree from an accredited college or university is seen by potential employers as a lesser degree than one that is earned in the traditional classroom. Bryan Wong
February 24, 2011
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A current main concern about online degreesis whether an online degree from an accredited college or university is seen by potential employers as a lesser degree than one that is earned in the traditional classroom.

Certain professions, such as entry-level MBAs, still consider online graduates as second-tier to traditional classroom graduates because the ones doing the hiring all obtained their degrees from traditional schools and have questions and concerns about the quality of online degrees.

Graduates from the first Internet law school, Concord Law School, will likely have fewer options to practice law because the American Bar Association will not accredit the university. As a result, those graduates will only be able to practice law in those states that don't require lawyers to earn degrees from an ABA-approved law school.

There are some professions, like information technologyfields, that tend to value online degrees more highly because of the nature of the work itself.

However, a career network website, did a survey of 239 human resources professionals and found that they tend to put more value on degrees from established universities like Duke or Stanford than from virtual universities like the University of Phoenix.

Their study also revealed that 26% believed that online bachelor's degrees were as credible as traditionally earned bachelor's degrees, while 37% believed that online graduate degrees were as credible as traditionally earned graduate degrees. The reason behind this is believed to be that people seeking graduate degrees are doing it online because it's their best or only option due to current jobdemands. These people may be seen as more driven and self-motivated.

The biggest drawbacks regarding online education cited by those surveyed were the lack of social interaction with peers (61%,) lack of data about the effectiveness or quality of the education (53%,) and loss of real-time teacher/student exchange (39%.)

The industries most likely to embrace online degrees were the following -

Internet/New Media (70%) Technology (46%) High Tech (44%) Media & Marketing (29%)
Telecommunications (29%) Consulting (22%)

The industries least likely to embrace online degrees were the following -

Medicine (68%) Law (56%) Health Care/Bio Tech (52%) Academia (44%) Government (22%) Finance (18%)

The following was recommended by respondents to help online degree holders land a position even when the interviewer has doubts about the value of the degree:

- Tell employers and potential employers that your degree was earned online. - Bring along transcripts, course study examples, and letters of recommendation or authenticity about the program and its accreditation. - Have industry experience to back the degree. - For those with limited work history, having taken courses like public speaking, debate, public forum, and group dynamics could help show that you have people skills, which could help ease the hesitation over the lack of social interaction with your peers when taking online courses.

As more and more online degree holders get interviewed and hired, the number of companies that will be more open to hiring people with online degrees will increase.

Slowly, but surely, the employment world is realizing that talented individuals don't have to come from the traditional classroom to provide value to a company. Companies are also realizing that individuals who would have never been available before due to work commitments, family obligations, and time constraints preventing them from attending traditional classroom degree programs, are now becoming options for these businesses to consider adding to their employee talent pool.

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