We are living in a digital age. Because of this, it’s now possible to earn a college degree simply by sitting before a computer with access to the internet.
Aside from traditional schools that are classified as non-profit colleges, there are also for-profit schools. Many of them are operating on the internet.
A lot of people who cannot or refuse to go to brick-and-mortar schools get degrees online, thinking that it will help to apply for jobs or get promotions.
But what about for-profit colleges? Are they good or bad and can you get a job with a degree from such an institution?
Having a for-profit college on your resume lets you pass through the initial scan performed by the automated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). More than 40% of companies use ATS to reject up to 75% of job applications. However, a for-profit college degree must be from an accredited school.
Perhaps you have heard or read before that for-profit schools have tainted reputations. That’s because they run as businesses, and what they are offering are college degrees. It’s true that some for-profit schools fail to offer high-quality education.
The average age of students who are studying online is 32 years oldUTEP CONNECT Extended University
Also, some employers do not take their programs and degrees seriously. However, there are also good for-profit schools, some of which come in the form of online schools that come aplenty these days.
If right now, you are going to an online school or you are planning to enroll in one, keep on reading. Below we will talk about some of the most important matters that you need to know about an online degree.
How Employers See Degrees Earned on the Internet
Before we talk about a variety of important matters about attending an online for-profit college, let us first discuss something that most, if not all, students who are going to or planning to go to online schools have in their minds.
It’s none other than the question of whether or not employers will take their online degrees seriously.
It’s no secret that degrees earned from Ivy League schools and other prestigious ones are some of those that most employers want their employees to have.
Those who have degrees from, say, Harvard University or Dartmouth College, are less likely to have a difficult time getting hired. That’s because their resumes are irresistible in the eyes of employers.
On the other hand, those who have degrees from lesser-known schools, including online ones, may need to work harder to win the trust of employers.
No, the degree earned online is not the problem per se. What can make it difficult for people who graduated from online schools to find jobs is that there is a stigma attached to online education.
Today, it’s possible to get anything and everything on the internet. It includes a college degree. There are reputable online schools.
Some of them have associations with brick-and-mortar schools, for-profit, and non-profit alike. However, there are also shady schools online. Many of them are what employers call “degree mills.”
Also, sometimes known as diploma mills, degree mills are businesses. The majority of them are operating online. What they offer are meaningless or illegitimate degrees in exchange for money.
The good news is that not all online schools are degree mills. Right now, there are many reliable ones that offer actual degrees. People may choose to arm themselves with these degrees to get employed.
According to a survey, 83% of executives believe that online degrees are just as credible as degrees from physical schools and having for-profit college on resume will not hurt chances to find a job.
Accreditation is a Sign That the School is Serious and Legit
The goal is to cut one’s risk of earning an online degree that employers will not take seriously. There is one thing that a student who wishes to study online may do in advance. That is, to check if the school has accreditation.
Every well-known university or college that you can think of has accreditation. This is true whether situated locally or elsewhere on the planet.
What is college accreditation? If college is accredited, it means that it underwent a process to prove its ability to offer quality education and programs. Accrediting agencies do it, and different states and countries have different ones.
However, it doesn’t mean that all accrediting agencies are equal. There are a couple of types of them. They are regional and national. As a general rule of thumb, regional accrediting agencies are more reputable.
Whether you got your degree from a traditional school or one that is operating on the internet, employers will check if it’s accredited.
This will let them know if your degree came from a legitimate school or the dishonest for-profit kind. After all, they only want to hire someone who graduated from a school that is able to meet high standards.
If you graduated from a well-known school, the employer might no longer check if it’s accredited or not. But if your degree is from a school that he or she hasn’t heard about, then the employer may do a quick background check.
This is why you should do a background check of the school before you enroll in it. Make sure that it is accredited by an accrediting agency with credibility and merit.
Many online schools are offering financial aid to eligible students. Are you planning on getting one? Then make sure that the school has regional accreditation.
Tip: University of Maryland Global Campus (former UMUC) offers great scholarships and financial assistance for veterans.
Failure to prove whether or not the school running online is accredited can put your money and, more importantly, future if you unknowingly put your trust in a non-accredited school.
Minimum Requirements and High Acceptance Rates
Again, make sure that the online school in which you want to enroll is accredited. Once that you are 100% sure that the school has accreditation, go ahead and start filling out the application form.
Speaking of which, one of the reasons why many students find it enticing to attend a school operating on the web is that getting accepted is really easy.
As a matter of fact, a lot of them do not need a lot of things from their applicants. Having a high school diploma is sometimes more than enough for the successful admission of a student.
It’s for this reason why a lot of high school graduates often end up attending online schools. This is particularly true for those whose grades and exam scores are keeping them from getting the nod of college admissions officers.
Some people who finished high school many years ago and wish to get a degree now run to online schools.
It can save them from the need to take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Both of them are needed by traditional schools for eligibility to earn undergraduate or graduate programs.
This does not mean, however, that this is the case across the board. Especially if you are planning on getting an in-demand degree from a top-ranking online school, you will still need to prove your worth.
Are online programs easier to get into? Some online schools have admission regulations that are just as strict as their physical counterparts.
As a matter of fact, the acceptance rate of reputable online schools in terms of their most in-demand degree programs is 76.7 percent. The figure is based on a study conducted back in 2017.
As you can see, it’s not right to say that anyone who wants to have an online degree can get admission from any online school that they want. If you want to attend a reputable one, your application must be impressive.
Working Hard is Still Important to Earn an Online Degree
Earlier, we mentioned the so-called degree mills. Put simply, these are businesses that give degrees to students. They don’t need their students to study hard. All they need is the credit card numbers of their students. Once they have it, their students can get their degrees without any delay.
A college degree coming from a degree mill, obviously, is not a real degree. It will not give you the knowledge and skills that you will need to focus on a particular academic field or professional discipline.
Is it your goal to have the job of your dreams with the help of an online degree? Then make sure that you steer clear of a degree mill and attend a legitimate online school.
Otherwise, you will waste your money, time, and energy trying to get your hands on a degree that employers won’t take seriously.
While it’s true that being admitted to an online school is easier at times due to minimum requirements, getting an online degree is not as easy. You will still need to study hard to earn it, just like when attending a physical school.
There are a handful of reasons why getting an online degree is not as trouble-free as you think. One of them is that you will still have to take the same number of credits, just like when going to a traditional counterpart.
For instance, in a semester, you will be required to take 30 credits to graduate and get your online degree.
It’s also important to note that one online degree is not like another online degree. Just like degrees offered by brick-and-mortar schools, degrees offered by online schools vary in difficulty.
The more challenging the major is, the more effort you will need to exert. Math, chemistry, biology, economics, and psychology are some of the most difficult online majors. So, refrain from assuming that you can get a legit online degree effortlessly.
How Hard Is It to Get a Degree Online?
As a matter of fact, some students may have a difficult time completing their online programs and getting their online degrees. This is most especially true for those who easily lose their focus and motivation.
There are no such things as classrooms, gymnasiums, locker rooms, canteens, libraries, hallways, faculty rooms, dorms, and fraternity and sorority houses involved with studying on the internet.
Oftentimes, it’s just you and your computer. In many cases, there are also no textbooks and coursework materials as everything comes in digital format.
Because it doesn’t feel anything like going to a traditional school, it can be easy to lose one’s motivation to keep on studying until such time that you complete the program.
Inside the classroom, there are like-minded people. All of them want to get passing grades, earn their diplomas, and get employed.
It’s because of the lack of camaraderie and school spirit why some students may find it challenging to complete their online coursework, thus discontinuing their online studies or exploring other options.
83% of executives believe that online degrees are just as credible as degrees from physical schools.CNN
Perhaps this is the reason why, according to a study conducted back in 2012, more students finish two-year courses than four-year courses, and then many of them transfer to four-year colleges, the brick-and-mortar kinds.
Did you have lots of friends back in high school? Were you involved in tons of extracurricular activities in your high school years? Then you may feel that studying online is a 180-degree change in the academic environment.
If not being in the presence of students and teachers is keeping you from staying motivated, then you may be in big trouble.
This is why it’s not true that earning a degree online is easier than earning a degree in the traditional way. If you want to complete the course, you will have to stay committed and driven to graduate.
Earning an Online Degree is Not Easier, But More Convenient
One of the various reasons why getting an online degree is enticing is that it offers convenience like no other. This is why it’s highly appealing to people who have families to take care of.
It’s also attractive to those who are already employed but would like to try greener pastures, which they feel is more possible with a college degree.
When studying online, you are the one who decides when you will sit in front of your computer. It’s nothing like getting a degree in the traditional way in that it’s the school that decides when you should step foot inside the classroom.
Many people who are enrolled in online schools are already working. As a matter of fact, according to a survey, nearly 70% of online students are professionals.
Some of them are earning their online degrees because they wish to transfer to different careers. Others want to get their hands on online degrees for promotion.
The same survey found out that the average age of students who are studying online is 32 years old. Clearly, high school students are not the only ones trying to earn degrees online.
Some of those who are studying in cyberspace are parents. Having kids to look after is not an easy job, and going to a physical school every single day can be extremely challenging for them.
One of the things that are making it difficult to have the perfect balance between raising a family and earning a degree is the everyday schedule.
Thanks to online programs, parents can attend to their coursework materials at a time that’s convenient for them. For example, they may log on to the web when their kids are sleeping or at school.
It’s completely up to them how many credits they can complete in a semester or year. This means that they are the ones who will decide how quickly they can earn their online degrees.
Because attending online schools is flexible in terms of schedule, those who find it virtually impossible to regularly go to campuses can have college degrees, too.
Attending Online Schools is Friendly on the Pocket, Too
Going to an online school is not only easy on your schedule, but also your budget. When you do the math, you will find that you can save a lot of money getting a degree online instead of from a traditional school.
Most online schools are forms of for-profit colleges. Just like what was mentioned earlier, for-profit colleges are known to ask for a lot of money in exchange for degrees, most of which are not legit.
However, attending a legitimate for-profit college is expensive only if it’s the brick-and-mortar type. If digital, it’s a cost-effective solution.
These days, it’s not cheap going to traditional colleges. It’s because of the steep tuition fees. Every year, it seems like college tuition fees tend to rise by about 8%, according to a study.
All the money that colleges, in particular the non-profit ones as opposed to their for-profit counterparts, get from their students, go to overhead expenses.
Some of them include electricity, water, the salary of the professors, and maintenance of the facilities. As the student population grows, so does their overhead.
On the other hand, online schools do not have as many overhead expenses as their traditional rivals. This is why it is possible for them to run and provide education, even with affordable tuition fee rates.
Based on an article that appeared online, the average amount of money that you will need to shell out for a semester at an online college is $3,400 only.
To give you an idea on how cheap that is, going to Harvard University for a semester will need you to pay the Ivy League over $23,000!
That’s not the only amount of money that you will need to pay to complete a semester. You will also have to take care of room and board, food, textbooks, and other school supplies.
So, it is true that are online degrees cheaper.
Just Before You Apply to an Online College and Get a Degree
Many benefits come with getting an online degree. However, there are a few downsides to it, too. This is especially true if you mistakenly attend an online college that’s not accredited and whose reputation is tainted.
Other than going for a college with accreditation and a good name, it’s also a good idea for you to earn the right online degree if what you want for going back to school is to get the job of your dreams or be eligible for a promotion.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.