A primary concern of students enrolling in an online college to earn a degree is whether or not their degree will carry the same weight as a degree from a traditional school. Since the advent of online college, this idea has persisted that an online college degree did not command the same level of respect as an on-campus degree for some reason or another. Are all the benefits of enrolling in an online degree program ultimately not worth it if it means employers won’t take your degree as seriously?
Online Colleges are Legitimate
It’s understandable that as online colleges began to crop up, there was skepticism around the quality of their programs. Decades and decades of the traditional college experience seemed incompatible with a virtual format. It just didn’t seem possible to translate the on-campus experience into an online curriculum.
Slowly but surely, colleges began to figure out what worked and what didn’t when it came to online education. Now there are thousands of accredited online universities and colleges that have years of experience teaching students virtually.
Technology Has Improved Online Colleges
One of the earliest limiting factors of online colleges was technology. In the beginning, online colleges lacked much of the interactivity typically found in a college environment. Courses were primarily audio lectures or lecture notes uploaded to a website that students would then access and have to be self-taught.
Technology has come such a far way now, and with that have come massive advancements in online college education. Students can access a rich tapestry of different multimedia assets created by their professors. They can also leverage teleconference technologies to simulate the classroom environment, allowing for the discourse and debate needed for a rich college education.
With the penetration of broadband across the United States and the world, online colleges have been able to expand their reach and create a much richer experience for their online students.
Many Online Colleges Are Traditional Colleges
While several colleges are solely online colleges, most online colleges are operated by traditional universities. Most public and private universities of note offer an extensive catalog of their degree programs online.
It’s no longer necessary to think of online colleges and traditional colleges as different educational experiences, with one being worse than the other. Traditional colleges are online colleges, and online colleges are traditional colleges.
Most online colleges that traditional brick-and-mortar institutions operate offer similar degree programs in both formats. Students in an online degree program often view the same lecture material that their on-campus counterparts are using.
When you examine what you’re getting from an online college, you find that you’re getting a nearly identical experience to that located on a traditional college campus.
Most Online College Degrees Don’t Mention They’re Online
Most online colleges or online degrees do not note that they were earned online. This is a significant selling point of an online degree program. While much of the stigma surrounding online colleges have started to fade, employers that may still hold antiquated views towards an online college degree never actually have to find out.
Schools that offer both on-campus and online degree programs typically provide students with the same diploma and don’t make a note of the difference in delivery format on a student’s transcript.
This is not only to protect students against an employer who might not respect an online degree as much as an on-campus degree, but it also speaks to the schools’ view of their programs: that there isn’t a material difference between on-campus or online.
Accreditation Matters More Than Anything
There is something that does matter when it comes to the perception of your college degree, and it’s not whether you earned it online or on-campus. What’s more important than your degree program’s delivery format is the accreditation of the institution and program.
Enrolling in an online college that is institutionally accredited and maybe even has accreditation for your particular degree program is far more critical than whether or not your degree was earned online or on-campus.
Accreditation boards help to ensure the quality of a given degree program. Many employers hold degrees from accredited universities and colleges in higher regard than degrees from schools lacking accreditation.
What’s important to keep in mind about this is that the same accreditation boards provide accreditation to online and traditional schools. Organizations like the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Higher Learning Commission, and other national accreditation boards examine and provide accreditation to schools regardless of their delivery format.
Are Online Colleges Respected?
Ensuring that you’ll get the most out of your college degree is incredibly important to each student. No students want to spend the time and money on a degree that doesn’t yield them the opportunities they desire. So is choosing an online college going to result in a degree with less cache? We don’t think so.
Sure, it’s hard to say how every employer may react to an online degree, but online degrees are incredibly commonplace as it stands now. Not only are they widespread, a lot of times, but an employer also wouldn’t even be able to know if your degree was from online unless the school you attended was exclusively online or you told the employer yourself.
With the significant advancements in distance education technologies, online curriculums have become almost identical to their on-campus counterparts. Whether you are earning your education online or on-campus, you’re receiving the same information and partaking in the same experience.
So set aside your worries about whether online education is a good fit for your lifestyle. If you would instead save the money that comes alongside an online college degree then don’t hesitate. An online college degree will open a world of opportunities for you. An online college will get you many of the same opportunities as a traditional college degree.