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Aug 19, 2016 09:11 AM EDT

What Employers Really Think About A Candidate's Online Degree

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Getting an online degree is easy nowadays. Technology has certainly helped a lot of people get an education anytime and anywhere. However, do employers give the same treatment to candidates who gained their education online as with someone who went through traditional college?

U.S. News reported that 39-year-old Anthony Jones, from Virginia, did not regret getting his bachelor's degree online from a for-profit school. What he was worried about, though, was his job prospects.

"I did not want to invest a great deal of time, effort and money, and in the end my efforts would not be recognized to the same stature as traditional brick-and-mortar establishments and their students," he admitted.

There have been mixed opinions from employers and recruiters about online degrees. This is due, in part, from the for-profit sector's declining enrollment, low graduation rates, high student loan default rates and questionable recruitment practices.

However, that mindset may be starting to shift. Amy Glaser, senior vice president of employment agency Adecco Staffing, noted that employers are now more willing to extend an offer to applicants who have online degrees because of the job market's current state as well as the low unemployment rates.

The publication has added, though, that, when caught between two equally qualified job candidates, employers are more likely to choose the applicant that had an undergraduate education at a traditional university over someone with an online for-profit degree.

"My guess would be that if you've got five really qualified applicants, and one of them has the for-profit degree, it could work against them," Greg Keller, chief operating officer at Bloomfield & Company, said.

According to Jay Houston, president of finance and accounting at the Addison Group, a school's reputation actually matters less than whether or not an online program is accredited. Moreover, education becomes secondary for a candidate that has had several years' worth of work experience.

"So many times, we know that a given person with an online degree from a for-profit institution has all the capabilities of anybody else, especially if they balanced a job with their education," Houston said. "That context is important."

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