As the number of diplomas earned online from colleges and universities continues to rise, so has employers’ acceptance of those credentials. One reason for this shift is the growing number of high-ranking, prestigious institutions that now offer degree and certificate programs in an online format.
About 12% of the 21 million students attending college in fall 2012 were enrolled solely in distance learning courses, the U.S. Department of Education reported.
Enrolling in a degree program that is recognized in the relevant field is a key factor for online students, noted a 2013 article by U.S. News & World Report. In addition, employers may value the fact that online learners typically must handle multiple tasks and responsibilities in order to be successful students.
I spoke about this trend recently with my colleague Stephani Cuddie, Manager of Online Programs for the College of Psychology and Liberal Arts at Florida Institute of Technology. Stephanie was kind enough to share her insights on the topic:
“One of the big myths is that people go to school online because they can’t get into more traditional colleges. Not true. The reality is that they are smart enough to be admitted to a traditional, face-to-face college; however, their life has led them down a path where traditional college is not feasible due to financial or familial restraints. Or they opted not to attend college in the more traditional time-frame. They find themselves needing a degree later in life and online courses fit neatly into their schedule.
Sometimes they did start school as a traditional student, attending right after high school, and found that they weren’t ready. Or they experienced a significant life event that altered their ability or desire to continue attending college as a traditional student, so they leave college entirely. Years later, they have the desire to finish the degree they started but find themselves with families and jobs – real obligations that cannot be sacrificed for a traditional [campus-based] college education. An online program helps with this. They can continue to work and provide for their families and complete their degree.
I think about many of the students that I talk to who are excellent students but are juggling the demands of work and family and know that a face-to-face college setting would be impossible for them. Quitting their job to attend college is just not possible. Online degree programs make degree completion possible when it otherwise would not be.
People’s lives take strange twists and turns, and without online education many of them would never be able to accomplish their dream of a college degree.”
As Stephani points out, instead of dismissing online learning as an “easy” means of earning a degree, we need to understand the many roles online learners fulfill in order to be successful. From an employer’s perspective, the ability to manage one’s time and take on several projects at once, plus the acquisition of knowledge that is industry-transferrable, are highly desirable assets in today’s fast-paced workforce.
For Florida Tech University Online students, they have already taken the first important step in choosing an institution: Florida Tech is a world-renowned institution recognized for its high quality and innovative instruction. With 100% online programs specifically designed for today’s nontraditional learner, students are able to get a second chance at earning a college degree, without sacrificing quality.
Jarin Eisenberg is Project Manager at the Women’s Business Center at Florida Institute of Technology and previously was coordinator of online degree programs at Florida Tech’s Bisk College of Business. To learn more about Eisenberg, read our interview here.