Abby's Guide to Online Degrees
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Online degrees just as good as standard degrees? It depends...

If you are looking at online degrees with an eye to further degrees, know that online degrees from institutions that produce only online courses do not have unqualified support in academic circles. While some graduate business schools claim they do not differentiate between applicant's degrees, others have a hesitancy. Your degree might be accepted, but your record and program might be vetted more carefully. Some admissions officers, however, welcome online degree students, figuring they have a more disciplined attitude and are more willing to judge the individual rather than the online institution.

As for employment, not all Human Resource executives are embracing the online academic track. In one study over 75% of HR professionals judged a degree from a traditional program more valid than one that was earned at a totally online institution. Some saw problems with admission standards, viability of the courses taken and the validity of testing procedures. Although they accept the degree, it does not carry the necessary cache if you are looking for advancement based on degree alone.

However, a new trend seems to indicate this thinking is not pervasive. Intel and WalMart, among others, have partnered with online institutions and online degree programs to provide tailor made degrees for their employees. And the institution's reputation itself may mitigate against online education prejudice.

The program of study you choose may make a difference in how HR will receive your new degree earned online. If you are looking at computer science and internet technology, your online degree will be more acceptable than if you are involved in academia, law or medicine.

To increase the viability of your online degree, couple it with your actual work experience, validate your coursework along with letters of recommendation, and take a few courses in a more traditional setting, where your interpersonal abilities can be shown off. Consider a debate course, or one in public speaking, suggests an HR exec.

To determine if you are a good candidate for online education, take a single course from a prospective institution first to see if you have the discipline and motivation. When choosing an online degree program, the key word is accreditation from a nationally accepted agency.

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