Are employers recruiting students with online degrees?
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A guest column by Alex Jones
Online degrees have had a reputation of stigmatizing those who earned them at an online college. But, as U.S. News & World Report notes in a recent article, this reputation has changed.
Case in point is Erik Schnackenberg. Several years ago, Schnackenberg, 28, began working on his bachelor’s degree at one of the nation’s many online colleges. According to Schnackenburg, he believed not having a master’s degree would hold him back in the job market, not his decision to pursue earning the degree online.
And yet, even without a master’s degree and despite his choice to attend an online college, Schnackenburg has done quite well. Currently, he is both a train-conductor instructor and full-time student.
Commenting on the effect his degree has had, Schnackenburg told U.S. News & World Report, “I’ve interviewed several places, and no one has asked me if I’m going on-campus for classes. I think they care more about my major and GPA.”
Schnackenburg’s experience is not uncommon. According to recruiters, the past several years have seen a sharp increase in the number of job candidates who attended online schools. Likewise, say recruiters, the percentage of candidates with online degrees who are hired has risen sharply as well. Such statements are in sharp contrast to those in a Cleveland State University literature review published in 2009. The review showed that, to that point, executives, human-resource managers and other “gate keepers” had an overridingly negative view of online colleges and those that attend them.
In hindsight, some recruiters now attribute the stigma seen in the CSU review to the “diploma mills” of the last decade. Such “online schools” were sometimes not accredited or offered unaccredited programs and awarded degrees to anyone with enough money to pay their tuition fees.
What’s more, this stigma is becoming less pronounced, if not altogether vanishing. Indeed, recruiting firm Manpower’s Regional Vice President Susan Fontana says, “Things have changed. I think 10 years ago you probably had a little more questioning, but (online degrees) really (are) so much more accepted today.”
Still even more notable, Fontana asserts, is that some employers prefer those who attended online colleges. According to Fontana, this is because such employers value online students’ ability to successfully manage several commitments while earning their degrees online.
“When you think about balancing a job and the needs of a family with school,” Fantana says, “that says a lot about the discipline of a person.”
Alex Jones currently writes for DeVry University, a higher education organization offering on campus and online degree programs. Visit DeVry.edu to get started today.