The Importance of Career Services for Online Students
Career counseling services can be a major differentiator for online students. Although online college graduates generally qualify for the same career opportunities as their on-campus counterparts, they don’t always have access to the same services and resources as traditional students. But these services can make a profound difference to your job prospects after graduation by providing direct support in everything from resume building and interview preparation to career mentoring and job placement.
So, if you’re considering attending college online, narrow down your list of schools to those that offer comprehensive career counseling services. The very Best Online Colleges will generally offer a full range of student services as well as a comprehensive set of accredited degree options.
The business benefits of online training
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Gone are the days when employers viewed online education with suspicion. The stigma that once accompanied the reputation of online college is largely a thing of the past. Provided your online college is fully accredited, few employers will distinguish between online and traditional students, and where they do, it may actually work to your advantage.
Indeed, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in the number of workers telecommuting for at least part of each week. It turns out that the distance learning, self-guided education, organizational discipline, time management, asynchronous collaboration, and technical know-how required to online learning in fact closely reflect the 21st century skills increasingly sought after by recruiting companies.
That said, there is one area where traditional students may still have a considerable advantage. Studying or living directly on campus provides access to a wide range of easily accessible resources and services. In addition to the organic networking that occurs when you share physical space with classmates and professors, studying on campus will give you access to academic and career counselors as well as an array of job fairs, d alumni events, internship opportunities, etc. . In contrast, many online students do not have access to these resources or are unaware that such resources exist.
This underscores the dual importance of providing comprehensive career services to online college students and creating awareness and awareness around these services.
What are College Career Services?
Career services are a set of support services offered by your college or university and may include, at the most basic level, material support in the creation of resumes, interview workshops and self-assessments for determining the career path. career. Most college career services also host career fairs, alumni networking events, and online job posting forums. But more comprehensive career services can match you with a career counselor, help you with your internship search, or even provide direct job placement assistance. Even more comprehensive support may include opportunities for career mentoring or job shadowing.
According to Online University Students 2020 report produced jointly by Wiley Education Services and Education Dynamics, the most popular career services among online students are the creation of resumes, the accompaniment of a guidance counselor and self-assessment. Nearly half of all online students surveyed have used these services.
Although the above services are ranked as the most popular, students interviewed for the report noted that the most important services included:
- Working with a guidance counselor (54%)
- School-run job search site (37%)
- Job search assistance (37%)
Job shadowing, alumni networking and help finding internships are among the least used career services, with 54% to 55% of online students saying they haven’t used them.
What is the difference between campus and online career services?
The main difference between on-campus career services and online student career services is the medium used to deliver these services. Just as with online education in general, online career services should be offered in a way that is framed around the experience and expectations of online students. This is true both from a technical and practical point of view.
In terms of the actual services offered, there may be minimal difference between what online and on-campus students need. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) specifies that
Fundamentally, online career centers do not differ from their on-the-ground counterparts in any meaningful philosophical way. What we offer is what career development professionals have always offered: expertise in self-exploration and support for career decision-making and post-graduate transition.
That said, NACE emphasizes that online career services must reflect both an understanding of how their target audience may differ from the traditional on-campus student and how the methods of reaching that target audience should be tailored to the same channels that convey the online educational experience. NACE Note that
what the online context is changing is our audience and the means to share our expertise. The technology involved may feel exotic, but now we should gain comfort, if not ease, by taking advantage of a wide range of computing tools to help us do our jobs.
Simply put, schools that have mastered the art and science of providing consistent and effective online education will likely be the same schools that excel in using online medium to provide consistent and effective career services.
But it is also important to recognize some of the key demographic distinctions between online and on-campus students. The Oregon State Department of Employment reports that
The majority of undergraduate (51%) and graduate (70%) online students worked full-time, and 41% of all online students were parents.
This distinguishes the career services needs of some online students from those of an on-campus population comprised primarily of recent high school graduates. For example, a greater proportion of online students are likely to be interested in and need immediate placement opportunities. For adult learners or degree candidates with a need or desire to balance education and work, finding an online school with proven placement services will be a top priority.
Of course, these numbers also suggest that half of all online undergraduates are, like traditional female campus students, recent high school graduates. It is therefore not enough to simply suggest that career services for online students should serve a different target. Instead, online career services need to reach a wider and more diverse target audience than traditional on-campus career services. Although the services themselves may be similar, the needs of the target beneficiary may be broader and more diverse.
What can online schools do to improve the reach of career services?
The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports that
It should be clear by now that simply having a website or interacting with students on Facebook or Instagram does not constitute operation as an online career center. An online career center operates with a clear and articulated vision to provide a comprehensive suite of career development content tailored to the needs and expectations of the institution’s students.
This includes accommodation for the needs of professionals and job seekers across a wide range of age groups. Online students may not need a radically different set of services than their on-campus counterparts, but they sure do need services tailored to students’ access, experience and expectations. students online.
Ultimately, the Online University Students 2020 report find that
Career services may not encourage students to enroll in one online program over another, but learners expect them as a fundamental part of the online higher education process. Although some students may choose to use these services in person, as many of these services as possible should be offered online.
In other words, the best online colleges will generally offer a full range of career guidance services, and the effectiveness of these services will be confirmed by high employment rates of graduates. That said, a quick look at the rates at which online students use these resources suggests that online schools could do a better job at:
- Raise awareness of their career guidance services in general;
- Carry out awareness-raising activities to ensure that all students who need these services use them, and;
- Improve the provision of valuable but underutilized services such as alumni networking, job shadowing and help finding internships.
Certainly, in addition to helping improve postgraduate prospects for online students, these services can also help create a sense of connectedness and personal engagement for distance learners, which can significantly improve the educational experience. on line.
If you’re a working adult exploring the prospect of online college for the first time, don’t be intimidated. It can definitely be an adjustment, but there are a few manageable steps any rookie can take to ease the transition. Before signing up for your first class, check out these 10 tips for beginners in online education.
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