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March 27, 2017

Educating Employers on the Value of Online Competency-Based Education Degrees

While many employers are becoming more accepting of online degrees, there still seems to be uncertainty about what CBE is and how potential employees with CBE backgrounds will be assets to their company. Joy Henrich, regional dean at the for-profit Rasmussen College conducted a study and discovered that over 50 percent of employers were somewhat familiar with CBE, and nearly 40 percent were unfamiliar. And those employers very familiar with CBE? Less than eight percent. This means there’s still work to be done when it comes to educating employers on the value of hiring candidates with CBE degrees.

Presentation Matters

When your students are trying to woo employers over to the CBE side during an interview, the consensus seems to be, focus on the positive. Here are two examples candidates can use:

“I'm working on an MBA in the same manner as if I were working for you. And it allows me to accomplish the assignments in a way that would mirror what I would do for you.”

"Well, it's a different kind of program. It's not rote memorization, and spitting it back out on an essay or exam.”

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Students should be prepared to walk the interviewer through the process of how their specific CBE curriculum works and answer questions thoroughly. Once employers are able to grasp the tangible benefits of hiring an online CBE grad, it will hopefully become the norm, rather than the exception. Unfortunately, there will always be employers who perceive online CBE degrees as inferior. Traditional, credit-heavy learning is just too embedded in their way of thinking. Students shouldn't waste too much time and energy chasing after them. Instead, schools should focus on providing its students with quality programs, and above all, make sure you are accredited. Having an online degree from an unaccredited school will be a deal breaker for most potential employers, which in the long run only hurts your reputation and your students’ prospects.

Bridging the Gap

Aside from the suggestions already mentioned in this post, another avenue educational institutions can pursue to get employers on board is to actually include them in the process. Think about it. Bringing employers into the mix gives them a vested interested in your online CBE programs. And it makes sense, too. Instead of trying to guess what employers are looking for with regards to skills and competencies, you can ask them directly and then see how their feedback can help tweak existing programs, or even create new ones. Keeping in mind that in order for this collaboration to be effective, your dialogue with employers should be ongoing and not just a one-time deal.

Share in the comments how you're changing the CBE conversation with employers.

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Photo Courtesy of: David McEachan

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