Dear Mentor:

Do employers care if my degree was through distance learning?

I am within my last 30 hours at my college. Does it matter in the job force or when applying to professional and graduate schools, whether a student graduates by means of a traditional or distance learning degree?

Traditional vs Distance Learning, Columbia , South Carolina, USA

Dear Traditional vs Distance Learning:

The simple answer is: Yes, it matters!

Distance learning, despite the hype and pronouncements by pundits, has not even approached a level of acceptance that compares to that for the traditional college or university education. Distance learning holds incredible promise for the future, pundits say. But as the saying goes, there is no bigger burden than the burden of potential. And the potential, real or imagined, is yet to be materialized.

The jury is split into two camps. On the one hand are the providers and the pursuers of distance learning - a very small minority indeed - who make every effort to proclaim that distance learning has come of age and it is as good as it gets. On the other hand are the traditional providers and students - a very large majority - who proclaim that distance learning is not something that someone with sensibilities should take seriously. Since the traditionalists are in-charge of the traditional education, distance learning is not likely to get any measure of respect in the foreseeable future. With distance learning, you can pursue further education, whether professional or graduate education, almost exclusively at the distance learning institutions.

Employers consider traditional education as being far superior to distance learning. In effect, the thinking goes like this: distance learning is better than no education or training, but let us not confuse it with the "real" college education. On the more bullish side however, more employers are using distance learning for specific, short-duration training or learning. Some employers are paying for distance learning for employees, but still are not convinced that it is a real substitute for traditional education. As we said earlier, they consider it to be better than no learning at all.

These are our observations in the marketplace for employment and education. Take them for what they are worth.

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