Which Online Learning Is Better

Is online learning any better than on campus? Our topic of the week is the physical and mental benefits of online education versus on-campus class time.

More work and study could follow a college degree – and a higher-paying one at that. But what is that degree actually worth these days? A handful of online learning institutions demonstrate that a college degree will get you pretty far in the world of business.

With success comes competition. A certain kind of service is valued — and even required — to provide it. And the business world is becoming increasingly tech-enabled, particularly in the financial sector.

It’s about to get even more complicated. Buying an expensive meal is one thing; purchasing highly sought-after labor is quite another. And finding a service that’s both high quality and low cost is an entirely different challenge altogether. Online and traditional universities both face challenges on this front, and their strategies are broad.

Recent research by SmartAsset finds that alternative, online institutions have the edge in some key areas of labor markets, while other employers use different rules to determine the success of their clients. The study also finds some differences in what employers consider essential skills.

How to Settle the Debate

A recent SmartAsset survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults gauged the knowledge, flexibility, and the skill set of 45 commonly-used skills in different industries and job sectors. It also found that employers have different views on which skills should be identified and valued in order to predict the future performance of employees in a particular position.

Utilizing SmartAsset’s insights and statistical data, we looked at specific skills that many employers consider indispensable for future success, with particular consideration to the educational experience required in order to acquire that skill. We then compared the skill sets of respondents to what the employer view as essential:

Determining Essential Skills – Employers vs. Students

Employers evaluated aspects of a candidate’s skill set including the time it would take to train the individual, the basic technical understanding of the position, and the overall skills. On the other hand, our survey found that students evaluated certain aspects of a candidate’s skill set including the skills they have, the demands of the position, and the amount of training required to obtain the position.

The results confirm the growing divide between academic institutions and employers. While employees may have the most technical knowledge of certain skill sets, employers — usually smaller, or locally-based companies — are putting the most emphasis on other considerations, including the candidate’s industry knowledge, personal traits, work history, maturity, accountability, and adaptability.

Which course will help you find the top-quality job? The answer depends on the employer and their preferred method of evaluating job applicants. SmartAsset researchers have found that some employers compare the scores of job applicants to their own applicants for specific skills and then allow the candidates to match their own scores to the organization’s goals. Other employers look at the applicant’s score to help them decipher exactly what the top skills are in that role.

The study also yielded some conclusions about what employers consider essential. If you look for a new job or add a course to your academic schedule, you may find yourself competing for the same professional position with highly skilled candidates.

Why add a new skill to your curriculum? A new skill takes more skill to master, so it’s the kind of skill you’ll want to master in order to have the greatest opportunity for growth. Are you ready to dive in? Whether you’re aiming for the top-paying role, a career advancement opportunity, or just a better life in general, picking up a new skill can make the difference.

What Can Students Do?

With the academic world becoming increasingly competitive, you don’t want to make the wrong decision and end up wasting your time and money. If you think you need a new skill to find the best job in your field, here are a few steps to help you get started:

Look for certification programs you can successfully complete and that put your skills to use immediately. These programs usually include a written exam and supervised, hands-on instructor. You can find programs designed specifically for specific jobs, like the Financial Services & Fund Management certificate from the University of Phoenix.

Network like crazy to gather insight and advice. Search job boards and various open positions, attend careers fairs, interview with recruiters in your area, and do your best to follow the advice of online education experts.

Be optimistic. While you may find it tougher to find the perfect job, you can stand a good chance of finding a well-paying position if you’re willing to work hard and trust in your strengths. With a little luck, you’ll be looking for your next opportunity to hone your skill set.

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