Get Ready for the Distance Learning Revolution

You can learn online anywhere you want (Photo by zoovroo)

If you haven’t yet decided to try distance learning, odds are that sometime in the future you will want or need to try it for some reason. Whether you have a bachelor’s degree, a high school diploma, or a GED, the world is changing at a fast enough pace that within the next ten years or so, you will likely be in the market for your first degree, your second degree, or an advanced degree. And once you’ve entered the business world, and as technology advances, you are more likely to continue your education online than at an on-site college or university.

Fortunately for people who don’t have the time or wherewithal to drop everything to attend school full-time on a campus, the world is starting to catch up to distance learning. Distance learning classes are being evaluated, across-the-board standards are being discussed, more online schools are becoming accredited, and online degrees are gaining more acceptance than ever before. One of the next advances will come as well-known universities offer more classes for free. Right now, employers still tend to balk at accepting that free courses give rise to competency, assuming that they are worth the money paid for them. Until such time as everything has shaken out, you need to be careful when deciding what to sign up for.

If your goal is to get an college degree useful for updating your resume and changing your career, traditional on-site schools still are the best option. If you prefer to attend classes online, though, because of time and/or money constraints, make sure that you choose an accredited university. Armed with an online degree, and with your work experience to back you up, you can make an argument to potential employers that you have what it takes to succeed. As more students opt for online credits, as more students with distance learning degrees prove to be competent, and as more reputable universities transform their online ventures from the experimental to the operational phase, more employers will learn to trust the quality of distance learning degrees.

Another factor that is skewing the results right now is the abysmal job market. If it were a seller’s market, employers would hesitate a lot less in giving credence to the competence level attainable through distance learning. As it stands, now, though, employers are free to pick and choose, and they choose to stick with what has worked in the past, regardless of what new trends have come down the pike.  Soon enough, employers will see that online degrees tend to be awarded to people who have already entered the workforce, and who are interested in furthering their careers, or in beginning new ones. On-site universities, on the other hand, will more and more become the realm of recent high school graduates. Employers will then tend to make their hiring decisions based more on whether they want a a fresh face or an experienced worker, and less on whether the potential employee’s degree was earned online or through attending live classes.

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