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  • Mark Olivito

Online Education: College "light" or just as good?

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

I stay pretty in tune to "outcries" because they tend to capture the sentiment of large sums of people, especially when the outcries don't seem to go away or pick up steam. You do not need to agree with them, but you certainly can't ignore them. Often times there are built in contradictions that are very revealing.

The two biggest ones I stay plugged into?

  1. College debt - What do we do about! It's crazy! Wipe it out! It's an albatross around my neck.

  2. The Covid-19 emergency "Work From Home" masses that are now pushing for that emergency necessity to be made permanent, or at least a hybrid form of work & office.

What are the contractions with the college debt outcry? Simple. If college is such a great deal with 7 figures of incremental ROI, why is there such a massive outcry that the debt is a problem and the debt holders can't deal with it?

Now lets take the Work From issue. Ignited by Covid, the world of at least office work went remote quickly and in mass. And by most measures, many businesses didn't miss a beat performance wise, and the people that were now working at home generally had benefits like less commuting time/costs, time with family, etc. But now many large businesses are calling their NOW remote workforce back into the office, and there's some predictable pushback as to why, which I can sum up as:

"If we are collectively doing great working from home, then what is the REAL reason we need to come back to the office? Control? Can't adapt to the new world"

Here's where I see the opportunity in the world of higher education, accelerated by COVID and the masses adapting to remote work/communication.

ON-LINE education.

I think it's fair to say that many people pursuing on-line degrees may be concerned if that degree would be taken seriously, or at least not be a black eye as compared too conventional degrees. I think that concern is GREATLY dimminished when you look at the real data. Solid article here.

"I am much more likely to take a remote degree more seriously now than I was a year ago," said Azoury, founder of Home Grounds, a coffee education website. "I now realize how wrong I was and I imagine a lot of other employers are feeling the same."

Here's the ultimate contradiction I would be aware of IF I was pursuing an online degree, and eventually going to compete in a job market against conventional degree holders:

"With the masses having experienced work from home and RESISTING the return to the office, claiming that they are equally or if not MORE productive, are none of them hiring managers?

Here's what I'm getting at. SO MANY people have experienced the benefits of working from home and the range of reasons vary from time with their new pup, juggling childcare, to less time in traffic, and everything in between. MANY tech companies are making it permanent, and many more will follow, with at least hybrid. The companies that shut the door to this outcry are butting up against their most valuable asset, their people.

So back to the hiring managers. The world is undeniably different. They have very likely experienced the remote phenomena, benefited from the new structure and welcome permanent new flexibility.

INHERANT in this experience is TRUST.

Trust that the employees can still get the job done.

Trust that the employees won't "moonlight" just because they aren't under the same roof.

Trust that employees are generally responsible and the entire workforce can figure out how to still build a culture.

So we are in this new world, so do we really think hiring managers are going to completely DIS-associate THEIR OWN LIVED EXPERIENCE and switch that world view to the OLD WORLD? In other words, they will look at an online degree holder, who pursued that path because of debt avoidance, flexibility, ability to earn money while pursuing an education, etc and all of the sudden look at that online degree and say, "Nope, not good enough, I prefer the kid that was sitting in the classroom, you know like I did 25 years ago?" Doesn't seem to be a consistent position in this new day.

Could the hiring compartmentalize this new world of remote work and treat remote education's value completely different? Possible, but seems like a real stretch.

Having said all of that, why not leave ZERO doubt in the value of your on-line degree, with the following:

  • Your online digital portfolio/journal blog

  • Your ability to communicate PROACTIVELY WHY you pursued this path.

  • Your CONNECTION of remoe education with remote WORK. Be up-front and say "if the workforce can be productive and contribute to their companies I also feel that remote education is equally as valuable. They will understand the irony of what you are saying.

Last, great little video click from Rocky 5 (Rocky Balboa). As an old, broken down fighter who decides to get back in the ring, the team comes together to figure out how to build a winnable plan.

The Brick By Brick Apprenticeship program reminds me of this clip.

We are going to find a way to win, in this new reality. And that new reality reeks of opportunity. Enjoy.


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