How to Maximize an Online Education Program

How to choose a program wisely and succeed at earning a degree in cyberspace

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Abigail Tremble, the director of learning and development for Randstad, a global staffing company, is an experienced recruiter who has worked with both job applicants and employers. She says employers are split down the middle: Half of them fully accept online degrees, and the other half don't. However, she says employers regard degrees earned from an online program through a traditional campus-based university more favorably than those from completely online universities. In fact, the traditional universities do not list on the diploma whether or not the degree was earned online because it is technically the same degree as the one offered on campus. Tremble says this gradual acceptance of online degrees is a significant improvement from 10 years ago, when she says nearly all employers questioned the credibility of online degrees.

"With employers, online schooling wasn't a problem," says Nicole Stephens, a graduate from Bryant and Stratton College who earned her bachelor's in business administration online. She got a job in the medical billing office of Kaleida Health in Buffalo the same month she graduated. "A lot of people are starting to go to school online now because it is more convenient. I don't think it's looked at any differently."

The technological skills students learn online are important for the job market. "Online education is very similar with how people do their jobs in today's global society," says Riehs of DeVry University. He says that he has seen a broad acceptance of online education among employers and that the university has the same job placement rates for their online and on-campus graduates.

When you reach a job interview, Tremble says, "be very prepared to talk specifically about what you learned during the courses, any projects you worked on. Show based on what you're talking about that you really earned a degree. Also, be sure to mention any certifications you earned while pursuing your degree."

In the job interview, be open to talking about getting your degree online, says Bill Driscoll, a district president for Robert Half International, a professional staffing and consulting firm. "You're selling yourself, so it is important to be upfront about your online education. There's a lot of ways to pitch it as a real positive. It shows the employer your dedication to developing skills and self-discipline."