When it comes to options for postsecondary education, online degrees are no longer the exception to the rule. While distance learning was once looked down upon as an inferior avenue towards a college education, this is no longer the case. As more and more distinguished universities adopt online learning programs as mainstays of their academic offerings, online degrees are becoming a viable option for even the most selective students.
And it’s not just returning students who are flocking to online programs. Even undergraduate students are now considering online bachelor’s degrees instead of going off to college in the traditional sense. Many of these college freshmen note the many benefits of such a program, including not only a more convenient academic schedule but also classes that are as interactive and rigorous as any in-person course.
If you’re still wondering whether your online degree will be taken seriously once you graduate, though, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss the increasing popularity of virtual learning, the effectiveness of online instruction, employers’ perceptions of online degrees, and more.
How Prevalent Is Online Education?
If you’re considering online learning as part of your postsecondary education plan, you’re definitely not alone. Online learning options are becoming more popular than ever before. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), nearly 35% of undergraduate students in the United States took at least one online class during the Fall semester of 2018, and 14% took courses exclusively online. This includes students enrolled in both public and private institutes of higher learning.
There are several reasons why undergraduate students turn to distance education for their academic needs. The most popular reason cited by bachelor’s degree-seeking students is the convenience of the program. For many prospective students, online learning removes barriers to a bachelor’s credential by allowing them to study from home and set their own schedules. Those college hopefuls with full-time jobs or small children may benefit most from the flexibility of an online degree program.
Is Online Education Effective?
If you’re worried that your online degree won’t be respected, this may stem from the fear that online education is somehow substandard. Rest assured, though, that these fears are completely unfounded. In fact, a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education found that online programs in higher education are actually more effective than face-to-face programs. Findings went on to suggest that the most effective type of postsecondary instruction is hybrid learning that combines online and face-to-face instructional approaches.
What Do Employers Think of Online Degrees?
Of course, the big question is: How will my potential employer view my online credential? The truth is that employers’ views on distance education can vary, but by and large, their perceptions of online degrees are either neutral or positive. According to a recent survey conducted by Northeastern University, over 60% of human resource managers perceived online learning as being as effective or more effective than traditional face-to-face instruction, and over 70% of organizations had hired someone with an online credential in the last year. In addition, more than half of those surveyed predicted that most advanced degrees will be earned entirely online in the future.
Still, that doesn’t mean a potential employer won’t ask questions about your online degree. Be prepared to explain why you chose online learning and why you selected your particular school and program. You may feel anxious about defending your decision to pursue your credential online, but as long as your school is accredited and you have valid reasons for selecting an online program, there isn’t likely to be an issue.
Where You Earn Your Online Degree Is Important
The most important factor for employers is not whether a job candidate earned his or her credentials online, but what school he or she attended. If the hiring manager has heard of the school, it’s a definite plus; if he or she has a high opinion of the institution, that’s even better.
Keep in mind, also, that your online degree may not even indicate that your credentials were earned virtually. In many cases, online graduates receive the same exact diploma as on-campus students. There’s also no real need for you to reveal the online nature of your credentials on a job application, unless you just want to. If the school you attend is close to your home, it may be assumed that you attended classes in person. Of course, if your potential employer asks whether you attended classes remotely, you should certainly be forthcoming. Don’t worry, though—earning a degree online is no longer anything to be ashamed of!
How to Find a Credible Online Degree Program
Finding a credible online degree program such as an online associate’s degree or online bachelor’s degree, for example, isn’t as difficult as you might think. In fact, the vast majority of virtual programs out there today are legitimate offerings. Still, you’ll want to look into the school and the program before you commit to enrollment. This will ensure that none of your precious time and money is wasted on your journey towards quality higher education!
Finding a credible, high-quality online degree program is a two-step process that consists of two factors: accreditation and rankings. The first of these two factors is the most important. Accreditation ensures that the school and program you’re considering has been independently evaluated for quality by a third-party accrediting body. When considering a school’s accreditation, be sure that the accrediting agency is approved by the U.S. Department of Education and that the accreditation status is current. Most schools advertise their accreditation status on their website. You can also talk to a school representative or consult the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for more information about an institution’s regional or national accreditation.
Another thing to consider when assessing a school or program’s legitimacy and quality is its reputation. There are many organizations that independently evaluate online colleges and their offerings and publish their findings so that prospective students can make better decisions about their educational pursuits. Here at Great Value Colleges, we rank online colleges and universities at every level of postsecondary education, including online associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctoral offerings.
Frequently-Asked Questions About Online Degrees
Still have questions about online degrees? Understandable! It’s wise to get as much information as possible before committing yourself to a specific online college and degree program. Check out the following commonly-posed questions about these types of online educational offerings. Our editors have provided some good information in the form of answers to these popular inquiries. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll want to speak to an admissions counselor if you have questions about a particular school or online degree plan. These school representatives can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information as well as finer details about the program in question.
Q: How do online degrees work?
A: Online degree programs use distance learning technology to connect students with professors, coursework, and classmates. The specific process will depend upon the online college you attend and the virtual program that you choose. Most programs use one of two distinct content delivery methods, though: asynchronous and synchronous. The main difference between these two methods lies in when you will attend classes and how you will interact with professors and classmates.
Students in asynchronous programs log into their virtual classrooms whenever it is most convenient for them. Once in, they view prerecorded lectures from professors and post to discussion forums in order to communicate with classmates. Alternatively, students enrolled in synchronous online degree programs are required to attend their online classes at a specific time to view streaming lectures and participate in real-time class discussions. Some online colleges use a combination of both asynchronous and synchronous elements in their programs.
Q: What online degrees are available?
A: Fortunately for students interested in pursuing an online degree, there are way too many options to list in a single article! Thanks to the proliferation of virtual learning, online degree programs are available in nearly every academic subject you can think of. This includes education, fine arts, information technology, healthcare, business, engineering, and many more. Virtual degree programs also exist at every level of postsecondary education, including associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and even PhDs.
Q: What online degrees pay the most?
A: It depends. The type of online degree you receive is only one part of the equation when it comes to determining your salary after graduation. Other factors such as your employer, geographical region, and years of related experience will also affect your pay. Still, some programs have a greater chance of preparing you for high wages than others. According to PayScale, bachelor’s degrees in Petroleum Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Applied Economics and Management were among the top paying college degrees in 2019.
Q: How much are online degrees?
A: The cost of online degrees can vary widely, but generally speaking, these types of credentials are cheaper than on-campus programs. According to U.S. News & World Report, online bachelor’s degrees can cost anywhere between $38,000 to $61,000 on average. One of the biggest factors influencing your tuition is what type of school you attend, whether it be a public or private college. Another factor is your enrollment status, meaning whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. Public universities are among the cheapest online schools, and in-state students will pay lower tuition rates than out-of-state students.
Q: Which online degrees are best?
A: Unfortunately, there is no one clear answer to this question. The best online degree program for you may not be the right choice for someone else. However, there are factors you can consider in order to make this important decision. For example, if you’re looking for the cheapest online degree, you’ll want to consider tuition costs and financial aid opportunities. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an in-demand degree, it’s best to consult a source like the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to find out which industries and occupations are currently expanding. Whatever your priorities, do ensure that the school you’re considering offers accredited online bachelor’s degrees or associate’s credentials.
Q: How can I find online degrees near me?
A: Although you can attend online college anywhere, there are advantages to finding an online degree program close to home. These benefits may include lower tuition costs and convenient internship opportunities, for example. To find affordable online universities near you, perform a web search for online colleges, and include the name of your city and state in the search. Alternatively, you can use the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool to find 100% online colleges in your area.
Q: Can I pay for online degrees with financial aid?
A: Yes. As long as you’re enrolled in an accredited online bachelor’s degree program (or other accredited online degree plans), you will be eligible for federal financial aid. Be sure to check into any institutional aid, including school scholarships and grants, as alternative ways to fund your education.
Q: How long does it take to earn an online college degree?
A: Completion times will vary based on what type of degree you pursue and what school you attend. Standard completion times for online degrees are as follows:
- Online Associate’s Degree: 2 years
- Online Bachelor’s Degree: 4 years
- Online Master’s Degree: 2 years
- Online PhD: 6 years
Remember, though, that some schools have accelerated and part-time tracks. Your course load per semester will ultimately decide how long it takes to fulfill degree requirements.
Online degrees are not only more popular than ever before, but they are finally getting the respect they deserve from employers in most industries and workplaces. This is great news for prospective students who want to earn a college credential but can’t make the commute to campus. Now that you know virtual higher education is the real deal, what online degree will you pursue?
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