For Employers, It’s All About the University Brand Monday, June 02, 2014 While many companies have a long history of providing at least some sort of continuing education benefits, they haven’t always been keen on paying for online degrees. To be sure, in the early days of e-learning, it often took some hard selling to convince employers of its credibility. Here’s a true story from the annals of distance education about a woman who was determined to finish the bachelor’s degree she had started many years earlier – but put it on hold indefinitely to work full-time and raise a family: Back in 1999, Genevra Webb-Conlee realized that to move ahead in her career, she would need at least a four-year degree. So she began looking for a program that would somehow fit her busy lifestyle, which included a significant commute, a 10-hour workday, and occasional travel as the business development manager for an aerospace company in Virginia. After researching her options, she came up with an online degree program that seemed like a good prospect – but her company would not pay for it because it wasn’t accredited. Undeterred, however, she started looking for one that was. Genevra’s search led her to a regionally accredited university with an academically rigorous online degree program that met her criteria. In gearing up to sell her managers on the idea, she prepared an exhaustive presentation in four, two-inch binders, complete with section tabs. Armed with this information, she headed into a marathon, two-hour meeting on the merits of online learning – ultimately emerging with an agreement. She went on to graduate three years later (with an impressive 4.0 GPA), subsequently earned a master’s degree, and has since enjoyed enormous professional success.Of course, those days are well behind us now, as online education continues moving into the mainstream of higher learning. In fact, according to the "How Do Employers View Online Degrees?" infographic we produced here at Drexel University Online, employers, as well as recruiting professionals, see online degree and certificate programs as highly credible, career-enhancing options when offered by a regionally accredited institution with a traditional campus and a reputable academic brand. Or put simply, an institution like Drexel University.For example, 42 percent of all hiring managers surveyed by the Society for Human Resource Management reported looking favorably on an education credential from an “online only” institution. But that number jumped to 92 percent when the same credential came from a brick and mortar university with a virtual campus like ours. What’s more, in a recent report published by Excelsior College and Zogby International, 83 percent of the CEOs and small business owners polled said an online degree is every bit as good as its traditional counterpart, when provided by an institution with an established name and reputation. In other words, it’s not how you complete your degree; it’s where you earn it – and Drexel is an exceptional choice.Having been founded more than a century ago, Drexel boasts a venerable academic history as an urban research university, with one of the oldest and largest cooperative education programs in the country. On top of that, we now hold the #7 spot on U.S. News & World Report’s roster of “up and coming schools,” in light of our longstanding commitment to academic and faculty innovation – a commitment that gave rise to Drexel’s pioneering efforts in adult and online learning. Our virtual campus was launched in 1996 to offer working professionals a convenient way to earn the same valuable degree as their campus-based peers – by studying with the same renowned faculty, using the same accredited curriculum. Consequently, Drexel’s more than 100 career-focused online degree and certificate programs often rise to the top of the rankings. This year alone, Drexel’s online master’s program in Library and Information Science was ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 such graduate programs in the country, while our AACSB-accredited MBA Anywhere is now rated 14th best in the world by Financial Times. By the same token, our online BS in Health Services Administration came in at #4 on an industry-recognized list of “Best Online Healthcare Administration Degree Programs.” Like Genevra, our students at Drexel University Online are bright and hardworking adults, for whom a good education is the engine of opportunity. And by putting that education in our hands, they are sharpening their competitive edge, while forging new directions in their respective career fields. Which is why, as one of our online graduates recently said, “it was a great investment, with an excellent return on professional advancement.” Dr. Susan Aldridge is president of Drexel University Online and senior vice president of online learning at Drexel University. For more information on Dr. Aldridge, please visit www.drsusanaldridge.com.