Online degree & certificate: 9 things you need to know
Do you have an interest in attaining an online degree?
Chances are you’ve heard about sites where these online courses are offered, but you’re still skeptical about enrolling for one.
This article is for you.
Enrolling for online degrees and certificates is an evolving and relatively new form of higher education learning.
For some years, it has been viewed with mistrust and uncertainty about its validity. In this article, I’ll be covering most of the things you need to know to lessen your doubt about online degrees and certificates.
Let’s dive in…
What is an online degree and certificate?
An online degree is a degree obtained from taking online (virtual) classes on a course- this course could be under an undergraduate, graduate, or postgraduate program. They can either be free or paid.
Betty, an online class enthusiast, claims online classes were created for working students to have a shot at continuing their education.
Well, she’s right in a way. These online certificates are also issued for courses that are related to skills and other professional details.
The COVID-19 pandemic enlightened several schools around the world on the need to have online degree programs.
Now, students have the option of either enrolling in virtual courses or visiting a school for physical learning.
These courses are offered by several universities around the world, although for now, only the major universities’ degrees are widely acknowledged.
Does an online course certificate have value?
Yes, it does.
However, the value of this certificate hinges on so many things. They are;
- Accreditation of the school: This confirms that the school meets the required standards needed for the learning and assessment process of online courses.
- The reputation of the college or institution: A reputable school would only offer credible courses.
- The quality of its graduates: If the graduates from an online course are half-baked, it might affect the value of the certificate, as no employer would hold it in high regard.
- The cost of the program: It has become an unwritten rule that the higher the cost of an online degree, the more value it has. Online degrees offered free-of-charge are most times not respected.
- CPD certification: This is for professional courses. It accredits the course and the certificate issued. It also proves that the course is up to date.
Going to an online university or institute whose degree has no value is equivalent to you having nothing to show for the investment you made into your education- the degree is meaningless. A least until the school becomes accredited.
Are online course certificates worth it? Are they worth anything?
A part of the public seems to think online courses are not and that for one to gain the most knowledge about a course, the students have to learn the traditional way in a physical class.
But this is not the reality of things. Online certificates are worth it, they also have several benefits. Some of which include;
- Increase in career prospects.
- Lesser cost than traditional learning and coaching centers.
- More course options to choose from.
- Less strenuous and lesser time is consumed.
- Enhancement of your resume for better job opportunities.
I must mention that obtaining a degree from a less reputable school won’t be of equal worth to a degree obtained in a classroom.
For a degree to be worth a lot, it has to be paid for with an examination conducted under the right circumstances.
Do employers care about online certificates?
Are you wondering whether or not to add your online certificates to your resume?
Compared to a decade ago, major companies are now turning around to adopt the use of online education. Although, they remain selective about the institution that issues the certificate.
Online certificates issued by the top 5 major institutions in a country are usually favored amongst others, while other employers care only about certificates issued by solely online institutions.
However, there are some guidelines to follow when adding your online degrees to your resume. From interacting with some top admin workers in big corporations, I gathered that:
- They do not care about degrees that are not related to the work being applied for.
- They rate some online institutions over others.
With this, you can see that you might be better off not including your online degrees. However, you can try your best to only study relevant online courses that will further improve your career.
Do employers accept online certificates?
Yes, they do. But this depends on the value of that certificate.
Moreover, most companies care more about an applicant’s performance than their academic qualifications. But having the right certificates is the first step to take to be accepted into an organization.
When your online certificate has been recognized by an employer, the ball is now in your court.
For this, you have to be well-versed in the practical aspect of the course taken. Hence, you would be tasked with showing what you learned aptly.
This would assure your employers that you have the practical skills needed to solve problems in the company.
Some employers find it commendable for an employee to take additional effort to improve their skills through online education.
Some employers also realize that getting online degrees from some reputable school is sometimes harder than through traditional learning.
To summarize, Employers accept online certificates
Do employers dislike online degrees?
They do not. Over the years, several employers have hired several online degree graduates. This was even confirmed by a survey done a few years ago.
In this survey, it was found out that more than 50% of employers claim to have hired several online degree holders.
In the United States of America, it is not unusual for even the employer to have a certificate from an online institution.
This rumor that employers dislike online degrees could have emanated from students that refused to sell themselves well.
In an interview, you are expected to sell yourself as well as you can, by answering all quizzes presented to you by an employer. An employer not hiring you does not in any way mean he dislikes the online certificates and their holders.
Although, few employers may be still holding on to the traditional values of education, with time the numbers of these employers would lessen.
Do employers look at online degrees differently?
This depends on your location. In developed countries, most employers are already enlightened about online degrees. In contrast, few employers in developing countries know about this and tend to reject resumes with online degrees.
Do online degrees say online on the diploma (will my diploma say I got it online)?
No, it won’t. There is no difference between your diploma obtained through the online program and another regular student’s diploma.
The transcripts are also the same. There are zero mentions of how the degree was obtained with online classes. This would furthermore encourage more students to switch to the online mode of learning.
The only way an employer can know the form of learning used to obtain your degree, he has to ask.
It is only if the name of the school has “online” in it, that anyone can outrightly know that the diploma was obtained online.
Does getting an online degree look bad?
The stigma originally attached to online learning has been significantly erased, as more people realize that the future of education is virtual.
The only way an online degree can look bad is if it was not obtained from an accredited school. The best way to prevent this is to enroll in a school that offers both online and physical classes.
Are online degrees as good as regular degrees?
Several online degrees are equivalent to their offline counterparts, the same course outline is studied and exams are also carried out.
Some similarities between online degrees and regular degrees include:
- A lot of work needs to be inputted
- Tests: at intervals students’ knowledge of lessons is assessed. At the end of a semester, examinations are carried out.
- Feedback: Both allow student-teacher interaction through different means- physical for regular students, via messages and calls for online students.
- Course: the same course outlines are studied everywhere. Even the materials and textbooks are most times the same. Nowadays, both issue ebooks to their students.
The only distinct difference is that when getting an online degree, you are excluded from having an “on-campus social life”.
With time, these degrees will also be widely acknowledged by employers and students alike.
Some of the reputable and accredited schools offering online courses include:
- American National University,
- Georgia Institute of Technology,
- The University of Florida,
- Harvard University,
- The University of Missouri,
- The University of Massachusetts,
- And many others.
In traditional schools, at least 2 in 10 students now offer at least one online class. This number might be higher in part-time or distance students.
As more reputable brick-and-mortar schools begin to offer more online degree programs, online education might as well be the new norm in a few years.
Why don’t you just go ahead and register for one now?
Michael Larry is an instructor and an educationist, who like to bring out the best in other through his inspirational writeup.