Perceptions of Online Learning

More and more people, both full-time college students and working professionals, are taking classes online. According to The Sloan Consortium, about 20 percent of all higher education students, an estimated 3.5 million students, took at least one class online in the fall of 2006. As technology becomes more advanced and Internet usage becomes more widespread, even more people will take online classes. A majority of academic leaders, 69 percent, believe that demand for online classes will just continue to grow.


While online learning is becoming more commonplace, you may encounter some negative reactions when telling employers that you received your degree or certificate from an online institution. Some of the most common stereotypes of online learning are that it is less rigorous and less selective than traditional programs.

Popularity and Prestige

Unless the word "online" is part of the institution's name, you don't need to put it on your resume. Of course, be honest if an interviewer does ask you if you did online learning. If you encounter a negative response to the fact that you received some or all of your education online, you can  bring up the fact that online learning is becoming increasingly commonplace and popular.

The Sloan Consortium's fifth annual report, released in 2007, showed that online student enrollment grew by 9.7 percent. The online student enrollment growth was far more than the growth rate for overall higher education student population, which stood at 1.5 percent.

Online learning is gaining popularity not only amongst lower-ranked institutions but also amongst prestigious institutions. For example, Georgetown University offers an online Master's in Nursing program while Harvard University offers multiple online courses on management. In fact, all Ivy League schools now have resources available for online learning.


If the institution that you attended is accredited, be sure to point that out. Accreditation means that the institution has passed education standards set by a governing organization--the exact same standards of rigor, quality, and educational value required of traditional programs. There are several organizations that accredit institutions of higher learning, depending on the type of degrees that they grant and location. For example, Jacksonville University's School of Nursing, which has an online RN to BSN degree program as well as a Master of Science in Nursing, is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. 

Skills and Responsibility

You may also highlight that your online learning shows that you are a self-starter who is able to multitask. Talk about how you were able to successfully juggle work, family and other commitments with school, which shows that you are able to handle competing responsibilities by prioritizing. The fact that you did online learning also shows that you have a lot of self-motivation and are able to get things done without much guidance.


Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning. (2007) The Sloan Consortium.

Jacksonville University School of Nursing Announces New Online RN to BSN Degree Curriculum. (2011) PR Newswire.