Online learning. When it comes down to it, if it doesn’t make dollars, it doesn’t make sense. If there is any truth to that statement, online learners are we in trouble? Could so many of the online colleges and universities attended today inadvertently be the reason why a number of online graduates have yet to find their dream job?
Many online institutions have often touted how earning a degree or certificate will boost the amount of pay earned over the course of a lifetime. Advertisements for a better life, a promising future, and a career without a dead end are often boasted. Many for-profit colleges and universities use targeted technical marketing campaigns which are focused on increasing student enrollment. Students have begun to realize they can achieve their dreams of an education by attending class online.
Today, over 20 percent of all higher education students now take online courses, which is a remarkable increase from under 1 percent in 1995 (Karen Vignare, “Blended Learning: Education Innovation and Productivity,” Campus Technology).
The Sloan Consortium’s third annual report on the state of online education in U.S. higher education, “Growing by Degrees: Online Education in the United States, 2005,” underscores that dramatic growth: According to the report, the online enrollment growth rate (18.2 percent) is more than “10 times that projected by [the National Center for Education Statistics] for the entire postsecondary student population.”
So, what happens after a student earns their online degree? Is it worth it? Will they find a job even after the doubts and complaints that an online degree is not equivalent to a traditional degree offering? Are they able to find suitable careers? Simply put, are online students being given the same opportunity to make the kind of pay equal to that of their counterparts who hold degrees from a traditional institution?
Fortunately, recruiters have already begun to recognize the value of an online degree, says John Dooney, manager of Strategic Research for the Society for Human Resource Management, an association of HR professionals. As corporations have started using distance learning in their continuing education offerings, it has become more and more accepted as a way to earn a degree. Many times a personwith an online degree is someone who is also working in an organization, so they have experience,” says Dooney. “You’re getting someone who has the total package.”
For-profit institutions such as the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University have capitalized on the use of online programs for years. Now even more established brand-name institutions—including Stanford, Cornell, Penn State, and MIT, which has placed its entire curriculum online through its OpenCourse-Ware program—now offer extensive online learning options and are competing with the for-profits for students.
“The stigma that an online degree is not viewed as sufficient is gone. Online learning has reached mass cultural acceptance. It’s no longer the bottom of the totem pole in the higher-education world.”
Yes it can be worth it! Hopefully, as time goes on recruiters and their organizations will continue to recognize the value of an online degree by an accredited university and how it can be just as beneficial as a degree from a traditional institution. Until then,this writer will continue to bring you the statistics through further research and analysis of higher education and the future development of online classes.