Growing up, I’d always dreamt of going to UCLA. It wasn’t that I was from California nor had some special relation to that school in any way, shape or form. My parents didn’t even go to college. But at 6-years-old, I knew college was in my future and that was the school my heart was set on.
I never did attend UCLA. In fact, I didn’t attend any brick-or-mortar institution, period. Surprisingly, my choices in life took me on a different path and I ended up doing something I never fathomed as a little girl: I enrolled in an online college to earn my bachelor’s degree and became an online graduate.
I struggled. With a family, part time job and my classes, earning my degree was no walk in the park. All the commercials that make it seem like it’s so easy to “balance” it all are liars. But I did it. And I entered the entry level job market ready to take over the world.
For months I sent out resumes without any luck. The job market wasn’t substantial, but deep down inside I knew something was wrong. Then it snapped: Was my online degree too much of a foreign concept to employers? Did they find my skills inadequate because I attended an accredited school via the Internet instead of inside of a classroom? Unsure if that was the issue, I decided to address the fact that I went to an online school in my future cover letters. I made sure to briefly address the strengths online education gave me and stated I felt I deserved a fair chance.
Someone finally bit, and I got a call back for an in-person interview. As any applicant should, I made sure I was prepared for my interview by researching the company I could potentially work for; came up with answers to popular interview questions; and I even came up with a few questions of my own to ask. I also brought a secret weapon that I would whip out just in case things started to go south: an old course syllabus.
As I had predicted, the interview went great. The interviewer seemed to like me a lot, until we got on the subject about my education. He just couldn’t wrap his head around it. Did I actually learn all of the proper skills needed to preform my possible work duties? How did classes work? How did we communicate with each other? I took a few minutes explaining the power of video chatting and instant messaging and decided to whip out my syllabus and explain to him that I knew my “stuff.”
I got hired and was quickly promoted with a hefty salary increase a short year later. My boss even pulled me to the side one day and confessed, “I can’t believe I almost threw your resume in the trash.”
The point of this story is that employers could end up missing out on some quality talent simply because they have a prejudice against online graduates. Admittedly there are a few illegitimate diploma mills that award people with fake online degrees, but this is something that can be transparent with a simple interview. Someone who took an accredited course will know the ins and outs of the industry and will be able to answer all of your questions.
So give the online graduate a chance the next time you’re shuffling through resumes. Not only will he or she be proficient in computers, know how to be an independent worker, and help with remote communication during business meetings but might also be a refreshing new change to your team. We are in a digital age and an online education should be able to provide some of the same opportunities to a graduate as a traditional degree.
Are you an online graduate too? Do you know someone who is? Share your thoughts!
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