Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Graduated Thought

If you have been keeping up, you know that I recently graduated with my Bachelors from CTU. Now, not to sweep anything under the rug too quickly - I understand this is a big achievement mostly for myself (who really lacked completion early in life...maybe I shouldn't say that...), and not really a big deal to anyone else. Obviously, no one in history is really known for their Bachelor's degree, and in today's workforce it's pretty much SOP to have a Bachelor's degree in something. With so many people holding degrees, we often find ourselves questioning the value of the name and location (or lack thereof) of the school. I have personally thought  very deeply on this topic and have solidified my own opinion - which is mine to have for myself and only shared when I am questioned about it.

 Today I was questioned as to whether my online-school degree was "accepted" at businesses. Now first, let me say - wow! How cool that my opinion matters, because I had a professor tell me that without 3 letters at the end of my name, anything I said would only hold up in a courtroom. O.O Anyway, the short and simple answer to your question is yes and no. Not what you wanted to hear, huh? Like I said, it was going to take more than 140 characters.

First, let me put out a few misconceptions. Online schools are set up to focus on the core material of your degree. Not the insignificant details. However, those details are available in the text books and material provided and you can still (and should) obtain the knowledge with a little investment of your time into the books you're supposed to be reading anyway. I can't tell you how many times I've been approached by students where it is clearly evident that they didn't read the material. The point is - if you're just looking for a degree, there's an app for that. I'm not kidding either - online schools offer apps to make it even more convenient to go to school. If you are looking to cut the shtuff and focus and really invest in your education, you will get out of the material everything that someone going to a brick and mortar school gets - we just get through it faster.

The next thing I want to address is the magic. What magic? Exactly! There's no magical experience at the end of getting your degree. No bright lights, sparkles or tissue paper falling from the ceiling; there's no companies throwing themselves at your feet because suddenly you have a degree. As I stated earlier, that's great - for you. If you thought just by buying the lottery ticket you were going to win - news flash - so did millions of other people. And that's not me being mean. I can't tell you how devastated I was when I received my final grade and there wasn't some big hoopla or a parade coming through. Haha! Kidding. I swear.

Those things cleared, let's revisit the question as to whether or not businesses "accept" my online degree. I will use my personal experience in the past, because currently my position was not exactly hard to get, but that's another post. To keep it short, in January of 2011 I got bored with everything I already had on my plate and wanted to take on more. So I sought out entry-level positions with just about any company that indicated they were a marketing company - don't do that. I applied to six companies and was interviewed by five, and each one was a lobby room of a minimum of 10 other applicants. Signs that the recession hadn't really hurt job availability, but that's another post. ^.~ At the time, all I had was my Associates from CTU, and you can imagine how easily I could write myself off sitting in this room with people who were not only taller than me, but had experience in the field. Did I mention marketing was technically a new field for me? Anyway, quite assured I wasn't going to get any of these jobs, you can imagine how surprised even I was when I actually ended up turning down jobs.

Was it my degree these people were after? My guess is no. Mostly because they never asked to see it. I imagine if I went to work for them, they would have asked for a copy or something. Would they have fired me when they found out I went to school online? I doubt it. I sold them on me - not my degree or the school from which it came.

BUT.... notice I used the big but. The big but is that - I also was not applying to companies like Bane who clearly indicate that they are looking for prestigious school names. They even have recruiters that go to Harvard and Yale. Sure you might get lucky, and I encourage you to try that. My understanding is that persistence pays off; but as awesome as I consider myself to be, we are in a nation full of people swearing the same thing about themselves.

So how do you stand out with an online-school degree? Show them what you learned, how quickly you applied and mastered it, and how ready you are to take that same fast-paced approach to excellence and grow their company. If you're ready to invest in your career, you'll be invested into outshining whatever school name is on anyone else's degree. Besides, it's marketing... if you can't sell yourself, how are you going to sell the company? Right? ^.~

I hope this answers your question, and I hope other recent graduates can take something from this.

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