Earning your college degree online is no small feat, as any graduate can attest. However, sometimes putting an online degree on your resume can pose a new set of unexpected challenges. While online career training is growing in popularity, there are still many misconceptions about distance learning programs. When a potential employer asks about your online degree, use the following tips to inform them of the merits and validity of your education.

Focus on the institution's academic strengths. If your alma mater is regionally accredited (and it should be), this should be the first thing you mention when questioned about your degree. The same accrediting bodies that govern Harvard and Stanford are responsible for online universities as well. The U.S. Department of Education maintains lists of accredited colleges and universities, so check online if you're not sure about your school's status.
Highlight your achievements as a student. You know how much work went into earning your online degree--a sure sign that you didn't attend a diploma mill. Organize a portfolio of your work (projects and papers, for example) to take to job interviews. Prepare some talking points about the specifics of your educational experience, highlighting the coursework that is applicable to the position you are seeking. Communicating effectively about your education helps employers realize its legitimacy.
Emphasize the skills you've gained as a distance learner. Earning an online degree is no walk in the park, especially if you're juggling a job or family obligations at the same time. Undoubtedly this experience has helped you gain valuable Internet and technology skills that are applicable in nearly every profession. Additionally, the discipline and time management abilities required to complete an online degree are traits valued by many employers. Use your job interview to remind your future boss how your e-learning experience can help you effectively manage a diverse array of tasks.

A Success Story

Doug Jones, a recent graduate of an Arizona State online MBA program, believes that online degree-holders have even more to offer their employers than graduates who earn a campus-based degree. "One of the biggest benefits of going to school full time while working full time was that I was able to immediately implement the theories I was learning in my MBA to my job," recalls Jones. "This impressed my superiors, allowed me to flourish in my job, and helped me better understand business theory."

Ultimately, even if it takes more time for you to find a job with your online degree, distance learning usually makes more sense financially. As Jones explains, "There is a huge trade-off that people have to make if they want to go back to school full time. The loss of two to three years of experience, plus the loss in salary, is a huge amount of money to make up."

By choosing to seek an education online, you're already ahead of the game economically, and with perseverance you can find an employer who values you and the skills you learned in your online degree program.

Council for Higher Education Accreditation
US Department of Education