If you’re like most online college students, the choice to earn your degree online doesn’t stem solely from a love of learning. You’re looking to advance your education, enhance your résumé, and improve your professional opportunities. You may wonder if employers will treat your online college degree with the same respect as they would treat a degree earned in the classroom. While some employers have been reluctant to consider online college degrees as valuable in the past, many employers are coming to appreciate the immense amount of work students like you put into their online studies.

Changing Attitudes

Though distance learning programs have been around for some time now, online college courses have only existed for a small fraction of the amount of time traditional, on-campus college programs have existed. Because they are still comparably new, online college degrees have in the past commanded less respect than traditional degrees. In fact, some graduates of online college programs have reported feeling like “second-class students” because of the perception that they “just” take courses online, according to USA Today.

However – and thankfully – attitudes toward online degrees are rapidly shifting. In fact, 61 percent of employers surveyed are now familiar with online college degree programs, and 83 percent find an online degree to be as credible as a traditional degree, CNN reported. Employers are, rightfully, more worried about a school being accredited or having a name they recognize than about a program being based online. As employers become more accepting of online degrees, students will no longer have to worry about their degrees – and the hard work they put into earning them – being undervalued.

Why Your Online Degree Should Command Respect

The change in employer attitudes toward online degrees doesn’t mean employers are somehow lowering their expectations. Instead, they are recognizing that online learning can be as valuable as an education in the classroom. Contrary to old beliefs of the past, online classes are no easier than classes taken in the classroom, and in fact, they can often be much more difficult. In addition to requiring more coursework, online classes also require students to be disciplined, organized and self-motivated – all qualities that employers look for in the workers they hire. Even within the academic world, accredited online colleges are gaining respect. U.S. News & World Report now ranks online college degree programs just as the publication has historically ranked traditional college programs.

As an online student, you’re working hard to earn your degree. You know that there’s nothing easy about the coursework you’re completing, and that your education is enhancing your skills and knowledge just as much as an on-campus class would. Increasingly, employers are learning enough about online college degree programs to recognize their value. An online degree from an accredited program at a good school will now earn respect from the majority of potential employers, which means you can enjoy the convenience of a flexible schedule without any drawbacks.