Lynda Bean was a full-time instructor at a community college when she began online classes a few years ago. Balancing limited free time and a demanding 9-5 work schedule, Bean needed a degree program that would be academically rigorous but geographically convenient. She found exactly what she was looking for in the dental hygiene program at Oregon Institute of Technology.
“The online degree was beneficial to me along with my affiliation with the community college,” Bean said. “[The affiliation] allowed me to fulfill several internships … colleagues also helped with expertise and supplies that I needed for several classes.”
Bean couldn’t have known it then, but she was part of a growing trend toward online degrees in higher education. In fact, online degree-seeker enrollments have steadily increased year over year—in 2003 total enrollments in the United States were holding steady at 11.7 percent, but by 2011, enrollments had risen to 32 percent.
Charlene Jimenez has a similar story. She landed a teaching job at Rio Salado College after completing an online graduate degree. “I completed my master of arts in creative writing through the University of Denver’s online degree program,” she says.
Survey says …
Naysayers who disregard online education and try to discredit it’s pathway to student success are slowly but surely being silenced by the statistics.
Rasmussen College conducted a survey of more than 100 middle and senior management positions across all industries. While just 18 percent of respondents said they would be extremely likely to hire an online degree graduate, an additional 28.5 percent said they’d be very likely to do so. All told, almost half of all managers polled didn’t appear concerned about where the applicant earned his or her degree.
Moreover, a recent survey by members of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 79 percent of participants had already hired a candidate with an online degree over the previous 12 months.
“Rarely do employers question the authority of online programs in today’s world,” said Susan Fontana, regional vice president of global recruiting firm, Manpower. She said, there was a lot more hemming and hawing ten years ago with the lack of accreditation behind online degree programs.
Accreditation continues to be a problem that plagues many online students—but it shouldn’t. Finding the answer can be as simple as double checking the program’s website or calling the school directly.
Online education is growing
Online bachelor’s degrees can actually be an advantage to employers seeking trustworthy and reliable candidates. Many students enrolled in online degree programs are doing so because they’re already working a full-time job. Add to the mix a family, children and other commitments and you’re talking about students who already demonstrate a great deal of discipline.
Not to mention, online students are coming in droves. More than 6.7 million students are taking at least one online course, according to a 2011 survey conducted by Babson Survey Research Group. In fact, the survey shows a 10 percent year-over-year increase in online enrollments—that is five times greater than the overall growth rate across all of higher education!
“Learning is no longer limited to four walls—learning can happen anywhere—and it already is happening everywhere, every day,” said Todd Hitchcock, senior vice president of online solutions at Pearson Learning Solutions.
The bottom line
Online courses and degrees offer a great opportunity for people to not only enhance their skill set, but to have the flexibility they need balance their studies with work and raising a family. After all, what employer would look down on candidates with proven multitasking skills and computer savvy?
Not only that, but colleges and universities are embracing online education by building their own programs and offering massive open online courses (MOOCs). It’s safe to say online education is here to stay.
Want to learn more about the online classroom? Take a look at the ways to get your feet wet with online education to better prepare you for an online degree. If you’re interested in diving right in, take a look at the online degree offerings at Rasmussen College.