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Why are Online Degrees Not As Popular As Classroom-based Learning?

By B_Taylor Subscribe to RSS | March 9th 2012 | Views:
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Imagine you are sixteen again. Imagine you’ve just left school. Imagine you are thinking about whether you should go to university or start a career. Then imagine that you are living in the current economic environment.

At a time when fees for attending university are rising and accommodation costs are already the highest they’ve ever been, it comes as a surprise to find that university applications are only 8.7% down on last year. Consider this, along with the fact that there is $13b in outstanding federal student loans and a further $5b in outstanding provincial student loans and you start to understand that completing a degree is no longer a guarantee for future success. Indeed, in many ways, it could be the start of a downward spiral where debt obligations become overwhelming and, due to a miserable labor market, there is no guarantee that you will get a job after completing your degree.

Despite this, online courses still refuse to appeal to prospective students when they start contemplating whether to go to university. It seems that the options are either go to a campus-based university or get a job. Perhaps this is due to the fact that a recent survey carried out by the Society for Human Resource Management indicated that only 49% of HR staff felt that online courses were equally credible to degrees from traditional schools.

Could It Be Changing?

It should be noted that in the same survey HR staff indicated that online degrees were now viewed in a more favorable light than they were five years ago. This therefore suggests that there is a change underway, albeit, a very slow one. The main issue seems to be accreditation. If an online degree is accredited then it should be considered in the same light as a traditional degree, however, 45% of HR managers said that graduates with a traditional degree still have a better chance of being employed over someone possessing an online degree.

Choose Your Course Wisely

It has been argued that the course subject is central to gaining an online degree that has significant weight with employers. If a prospective student is considering a Bachelor of Psychology or a Bachelor of Criminal Justice degree, they may have more success than if they had completed a degree that would normally have a large practical element such as engineering or construction. Although it may be possible to study such degrees online many employers would still consider the graduate to be short of actual experience and would need time to get used to the working environment.

Demand From Employers

It would appear that the reason why online courses are still not being accepted as real degrees resides not so much in a lack of demand for them among those looking for a degree but among those who are forced to value potential job candidates. If there is no demand among the employers, then this filters through to individuals looking for the qualifications that will enable them to succeed in getting a job. This obviously includes the institution that the prospective job candidate attended.

It seems that until employers remove their focus on traditional degrees and embrace the new virtual educational environment, demand for online degrees is not going to outstrip traditional courses. This is despite online degrees being the preferred choice among prospective students and, in most cases, the best alternative for companies. Indeed, companies would be able to employ someone who is carrying out their studying part-time and would be willing to work for less until they are qualified. Someone would say that is for the benefit of all parties involved.

B_Taylor - About Author:
Brenda Taylor has worked for a number of universities and educational companies on a consultancy basis, providing advice and assistance on a number of projects across a wide variety of subjects. Find out more about studying an online degrees.

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