Putting Online Degrees to Work

As technology advances and higher education scrambles to keep up, more and more students are going online to supplement their education and further their career. As a result, businesses have had to reevaluate prospective hires whose academic backgrounds run the gamut from traditional brick and mortar degrees to online degrees. According to Vault Inc's new Online Degrees survey, of 107 responses from employers representing a variety of industries across the U.S., 85 % of employers feel online degrees are more acceptable today than they were five years ago. However, less than half had encountered an applicant with an online degree, and only 20% said they had hired applicants with online degrees. The e-education phenomenon is still gaining ground as more and more students take online courses in everything from health care to business with the click of the mouse. Experts warn that while there are plenty of benefits to online education, there are plenty of things to watch out for. In a USA Today article, Stephanie Armour discussed "diploma mills," or agencies claiming to offer accredited degrees to individuals, some of whom are then passing them off to employers as legitimate diplomas. This poses a problem for businesses. The same article referenced a study by the Society for Human Resource Management which mentioned that, only 40% of companies regularly verify degrees earned. Diploma mills are making it increasingly more difficult to differentiate between the authentic and the counterfeit. This is unfortunate for the accredited universities who offer genuine degrees, and it is detrimental to individuals looking to earn actual accreditation. Legitimate online colleges offering quality programs to their recipients are losing credibility because of this. The Philadelphia Daily News stated that, "There are 500 phony accrediting agencies around the world and hundreds of phony schools taking people's money." There are methods to help prospective students differentiate between the real and the fake universities. Online education directories like ECollegefinder.org, is one such directory designed to help students search credible online degree programs by discipline, degree or accredited school. Diploma mills have cast a shadow of doubt over online degrees, but as larger, better known universities begin to embrace online degree programs, businesses will most likely meet more applicants with online degrees. According to Vault Inc's survey, 86% of employers said they'd be willing to accept applicants with an online degree, and 91% said they would hire a candidate if they had everything the company was looking for accompanied by an online degree. If the survey's numbers are any indication of the future of online education and the role it plays in the workplace, those numbers will only grow as degree programs online gain credibility in cyber space and in the workplace.