Once you decide to earn a degree online, you face an important decision: where to go to school. Do you want to go to an online-only school or an online program through a traditional college that offers courses on-campus and off? However you select your online degree program, consider basic characteristics that apply to all quality online programs as well as the impressions your potential employers may have.
Characteristics to Look for in an Online Degree Program
A good degree program at an online-only school should include many of the same qualifications found in sought-after traditional schools. Accreditation of online college degree programs matters as much as it does for traditional schools. You should make sure, before you pay any tuition money, that your online degree program is legitimate. When considering online degree programs, make sure that they provide you with the resources you will need to succeed, such as access to virtual libraries and databases and online tutoring help if you need it. You may also want to evaluate whether or not the school has any career services available. Though some prominent online-only schools like the University of Phoenix didn’t used to offer career services, more have begun doing so, as TIME reported.
Of course, one of the primary reasons for earning a college degree from any school, online or traditional, is to improve one’s career prospects. What potential employers think about online-only schools as compared to brick-and-mortar schools matters.
In recent years, the popularity of online degree programs has increased significantly, and so have online course offerings. As of 2012, more than 62 percent of colleges offered degree programs that could be completed entirely online, according to U.S. News & World Report. With online degrees becoming more common, evidence suggests that they may also be more widely accepted now than in the past. In a survey of top executives at businesses, 83 percent of respondents said they would consider a degree earned online as credible as one earned through a traditional program, according to CNN.
Still, some respondents admitted that they won’t give a candidate with an online degree the same consideration as a graduate of a traditional degree program. If your intended career field is a competitive one and you fear that prejudice against online degree programs might prevent a prospective employer from offering you a job, this might be an argument for seeking out a brick-and-mortar school with an online degree program that meets your needs. When you graduate from such a program, your degree won’t indicate that you completed your studies online, only that you attended that brick-and-mortar school.
Your decision to attend an online-only school or an online program through a traditional school depends on your current needs and future goals. By learning about the similarities and differences between these two types of online programs, you can make an educated decision about which choice is right for you.