Planning a career, setting career goals, and determining how they can be achieved can take a lot of research. Much of this research will center on the education required by companies to consider a person a qualified candidate for the jobs available in that career. Career planners have a lot of options to research when it comes to learning about the industry in which they want to work. There are traditional degrees like a Bachelor’s, Master’s and even a PhD. And there are massive open online courses (MOOCs) that often provide background information about a subject area. Before enrolling in an educational program, individuals should consider if a degree is more valuable than a few online courses.
- What sells better on a resume? – The job market is full of qualified applicants, and it can be difficult to get a resume to the top of the candidate pile. Having a degree from an accredited university makes it easier for employers to determine a candidate’s qualifications. And because of the high number of applicants, employers with open positions will be looking for people who easily fit into the posted criteria. They might not be willing to take the time to research if an online course here and there is provided by an accredited school and if what was included in the curriculum would meet the needs of the company. Oftentimes, employers list undergraduate or graduate degree requirements that applicants must meet to be considered.
- What provides the best overall learning? – Universities and colleges develop their online degree programs to provide students with a well-rounded education, because many times an understanding of the arts is needed to fully grasp the sciences – and vice versa. For example, in the business world, an employer posting a position for an accountant may want candidates to also have the ability to communicate well with fellow employees and clients, both verbally and in writing, as well as have an understanding of social behaviors that could be learned in a social sciences course. Taking a select few online courses in accounting would not provide candidates with this knowledge or skill set, and may have employers looking to hire someone else.
- What provides a better understanding of the industry? – According to a New York Times article, the number of students who switch majors during their college career varies from university to university, but some – like Penn State – report up to 80 percent of freshmen are unsure about their major, and half will change their minds. Because Bachelor’s degrees typically take four years to finish, students have the opportunity to explore their interests and better focus their energies on a degree that is a good fit.
Because of this diversity, completing a bachelor’s degree allows them to enter the job market well-informed about what they’ll face in their chosen career. Taking a few online courses might not showcase everything about a specific career, and in the long run could cost more money if additional education is needed for a career change. Any effort to invest in educating yourself is going to appear positive to potential employers, but in most cases completing an online degree is more advantageous to a career seeker than having taken only a few courses. Serious career planners should include completing a relevant degree in their plan to put themselves in the best possible position when it comes time to send out their resume.