Distance Learning Degrees – What Do Employers Think Of Them?
Distance learning degrees and online degree programs have become popular since the internet became a household name. This has opened doors to a great opportunity for those wishing to pursue further education. But just as it is with everything new, the internet has also presented challenges and created room for sale of unscrupulous degrees and diplomas. The figures released by USA Today indicate that in 2003, over 400 diploma mills were in operation and the number was on the increase. Surprisingly, this dubious operation of degree mills seems to be thriving in an industry currently estimated at $500 million per year.
Nevertheless, many colleges and universities are now offering legitimate degrees and diplomas. Unlike the mills, institutions of higher learning are doing everything possible to provide the same quality of education offered to students in the traditional learning environment. With access to video lectures, online courses, innovative online testing methods, and virtual library facilities, those seeking distance learning degrees can rest assured their diplomas have been justly earned. Unfortunately, many employers’ views have been tainted because of the influx of fake degrees.
To address the misinformation, 6 accreditation agencies have been authorized by the U.S. National Education Board to weed out the unscrupulous bogus programs. Then, the agencies give accreditation to the colleges and universities that meet the minimum standards for legitimate learning institutions. In addition, the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) also provide accreditation specifically to distance learning schools. The DETC has the backing of both the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the Department of Education. Therefore the students can rest assured their education has matched, and often exceeded that of their traditional peers.
In addition, specific programs in specialized areas can obtain accreditation through the agencies associated with the subject matter. For example, the American Health Information Management Association provides accreditation for qualifying health programs; accounting programs are assessed by the International Association for Management Education. However, it only counts if the agencies are endorsed by the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Why does accreditation matter to a student? A college accreditation agency evaluates the different aspects of colleges or universities against minimum standard criteria to determine if the particular institution meets set basic requirements that determine the quality of education it should offer. College accreditation is important to ensure that the quality of education, facilities in a college and support given by that college meets certain standards while specialized accreditation checks the excellence of specific programs regardless of the institution offering that program. Likewise it means specialized accreditation check on course content and the curriculum of the program against pre-determined standards of the distance learning college or university.
Accreditation assures employers, parents and students that a respective college awarding degrees has undergone and passed a stringent test of excellence in offering quality education in the respective areas of training. On the other hand, diploma mills and fake colleges don’t meet the same standards of education imposed by the agencies since they don’t possess any legitimate accreditation. Thus courses taken by prospective employees that are accredited by the respective agencies would have met standards imposed on the respective specialized areas.
In the end, it is totally up to potential employers to decide whether to hire an individual with a distance learning degree. With skepticism influenced by all the bogus diploma mills, no wonder they are being more cautious. Therefore, if the accreditation is supplied by a trusted and recognized source, the application for a job is less likely to be set aside. Instead, it has a better chance to be found in the stack for a second interview or final selection for a job position.