Poll: Online Degrees Gaining Traction Among Americans

In a country where traditional schooling is king, online classes face an uphill battle. Several years ago, businesses were  unlikely to hire someone with an online degree and students did not trust the quality of an online education as much as they do today.

Americans’ trust in the quality of online classes and majors is slowly but surely improving, reports Valerie J. Calderon and Susan Sorenson for Gallup Politics. A recent poll suggests 37% of American adults  agree or strongly agree that new online colleges give a high-quality of education. In 2011, only 30%  agreed when Gallup asked the same question. One in four, or about 27%, disagree or strongly disagree.

The research shows that Americans still firmly believe that a traditional college or community college setting offers a higher quality of education than an online degree. Of those polled, 58% of Americans believed that community colleges offer a better education than online courses while 77% believed a university offered the same.

The real question is what business leaders and companies think of online degrees. Are they just as willing to hire an online graduate as opposed to a traditional college graduate? Calderon and Sorenson may have an answer:

“In a separate 2013 Gallup-Lumina Foundation Business Leaders Poll on Higher Education, U.S. business leaders were asked the same question regarding the likelihood that employers would hire a candidate with a degree from an online higher education provider over a candidate with the same degree from a traditional institution. A similar proportion of business leaders polled (54%) say employers are at least somewhat likely to do so. However, a smaller percentage (47%) say they are at least somewhat likely to hire such a candidate for their own business.”

No matter the statistics, online courses and degrees continue to grow in popularity, especially for single parents and those with busy schedules. The opinion of Americans and hiring companies towards online degrees continues to grow alongside them.

As more and more online colleges open, the quality continues to improve. However, the attitude towards a traditional college or community college offering a better education remains strong at this point. On the other hand, as online colleges continue to adapt to industry and student needs, they have the potential to earn a good reputation and keep costs down for debt-ridden students.