Working Professionals and Online Schools: A Perfect Match

Think employers in your industry would be less accepting of online degrees? Think again. Online education isn’t just becoming accepted in a wide range of business and industry—it’s becoming encouraged. Employers love online education because it allows their workers to get the credentials they need—without any interruption in their work schedules. If you’re a full-time working professional, don’t think you can’t become a full-time student as well.

Why Full-Time Workers Go To School Online

The flexibility. Online education allows students to manage a full-time work schedule and a full-time course load. There are generally few or no scheduled class times in online education—everything you need can be downloaded and watched, read or listened to at your leisure. The flexibility doesn’t necessarily make earning your degree easy—but it makes it possible to accommodate without leaving or cutting down on your job.

The availability of programs. You can find pretty much any program you want online—from Bachelors degrees to MBA’s to professional certifications. Employers often look online first when searching out the professional development programs they need to educate their employees—which means many employers are accustomed to seeing online education on job applicant resumes.

Employers sometimes pay for tuition. Employer tuition reimbursement programs often provide workers with the incentive they need to go back to school. If you’re a full-time worker, you may not need to pay for your own tuition. Your employer may be willing to pay some or all of your bill, if you’re willing to work for them for a predetermined length of time after you earn your degree.

Getting Your Employer to Pay Tuition

First stop: human resources. If you want to get your employer to pay your tuition, your first step should be to ask your HR department if your company already has a tuition reimbursement program in place. Your company may have an existing partnership with a certain online or traditional college, and it may be easier for you to study with one of these partner schools than with one that isn’t affiliated with your employer.
If your company already has a tuition reimbursement policy, bear in mind that it may not cover all your tuition. It may not cover tuition for a program of study that isn’t clearly applicable to your current career. And you may be expected to sign a contract stating that you will stay with the company for a certain length of time after you earn your online degree.

No existing reimbursement program? No problem. If your company doesn’t have an existing tuition reimbursement program, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to your Human Resources director or boss about starting one. There are plenty of reasons why it’s beneficial for companies to invest in the education of their workforce. Paying for your tuition makes you more knowledgeable and better able to do your job. It can also go a long way to cultivate employee loyalty and morale.

When considering how you’ll convince your boss to pay for your tuition, keep in mind that you’ll need to make a positive case for why your degree will benefit your company. Frame your presentation in those terms—a degree will make you better able to make a positive contribution. Online degrees are often an easy sell, because they allow you to study while working full-time.

Sign a contract. If your employer agrees to pay your tuition, you will probably be asked to sign a contract stating that you will stay in your current job for a designated amount of time after earning your degree. Most of the time, these contracts won’t ask for more than a few years of commitment. Be sure you understand key issues like the time commitment you’ll be required to make, as well as the way your tuition will be paid—some employers pay the school directly, while others require you to pay and agree to reimburse you later. Some employers may require you to earn a certain grade point average to continue the agreement.

Full-time professionals choose to go to school online for a variety of reasons, prominent among them being the flexibility and accessibility of these programs. Employers often prefer online degree programs for their employees because they allow workers to earn a degree without cutting back on hours—making many employers more than willing to accept and even pay for online degrees. With all the benefits to going to school online, it’s clear why so many full-time workers take advantage of these programs.