Was Online Education Made for GenY Students?

Online education was originally made for GenX’ers

Last week #genychat discussed the differences between for-profit and non-profit educational systems. Mission, purpose, and structure were all discussed as major differences between the two. There were also multiple insights about a stigma that seems to arise when one’s entire or even partial educational background comes from for-profit institutions. Why does this stigma exist? There has been an influx in fraud in several online institutions is this a classic case of the few speak for the many?€ Or do people just have a bad taste in their mouth when they hear for-profit education?

Was Online Education Made for GenY Students?

The University of Phoenix has estimated admission numbers at over 400,000 students. The non-profit university I went to had about 11,000. I recently read an article that listed be benefits of online education. Some of the qualities listed include: quality education, online degrees are valuable, student-centered learning, convenience and flexibility, and ready for the future. When discussing this topic with several #geny members, they saw few of those values. Of course, convenience and flexibility was the main benefit, but the stigma of bad education, no future still exists.

The statement Online education was originally made for GenX’ers that wanted a change and didn’t have time for traditional education rings true, although it has grown to the point where you can get an online education in just about anything, from a degree in social work to a nursing degree all online. Today’s GenY members don’t value what for-profit institutions have to offer. Whether it be a midlife career change or wanting to better yourself, most GenY will take advantage of traditional education as oppose to GenX focusing on for-profit education.

To make it simple, I don’t think GenY will ever embrace for-profit online education. The stigma that exists will need a lot more fine-tuning in order for GenY to think it credible and worthwhile. I’m not saying that it hasn’t worked before because I know several people who are doing well, but in part, that deals with charisma and knowing how to market yourself.  Do you think the stigma will ever vanish from the thoughts of the younger generations? We all have an opinion  so feel free to share yours!

If you don’t have anything planned for every Wednesday night at 9pm EST join us at #genychat for an open forum session or various topics. If you have any suggestions for a topic, DM @GenYChat. Ask anything, discuss anything, and learn from your peers or a younger generation! Everyone is welcome!

Blake McCammon, is an intern at Xceptional HR. Connect with Blake on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.  Blake is a recent grad of Northeastern State University with a degree in Business Administration.  During school he created and managed his university’s social media strategy. He is currently the co-moderator for the Twitter chat, #genychat which takes place every Wednesday at 9pm EST.


Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Carrie says

    The interesting thing I notice whenever anyone speaks about University of Phoenix is the reference to it as “online”. UOP has been around since the late 70’s as a physical campus and has locations everywhere. It started as for-profit, yes; but it has never been exclusively online, nor will it likely ever be.

    Some of the interesting differences from a price point is the lack of sprawling campus grounds and buildings, no sports teams, etc… so they don’t have the expense – or let’s be real here – the profit of having athletics programs that generate $$$ in admission, concessions, or conference championships.

    I was at the physical campus, but it had an online element. As a business student – this seemed to be an efficient and effective way to manage resources for both the University and the student and I would expect a “business school” for-profit or not, to practice what they preach.

    In fact, I still have a student log-in with access to my “books” and essentially an online portfolio of my work and that was almost 10 years ago! Further, I would put my degrees up against almost anyone’s, as I immediately saw the difference and the value of having instructors who were professionals in their field (CFO’s, VP of HR, practicing attorneys) vs. tenured academics who have been teaching theory from a book for 20 years.

    I would challenge any student today who is flicking their nose at “online education” and ask how many are using online technology as part of their traditional degree? Non-profit universities still have to change and adapt their business model to survive… and folks – they are taking a lot of best practices from the for-profit schools.

    Don’t kid yourselves.

  2. Sport and Recreation Industry says

    I have worked for-profit and not-for-profit education institutions. As a teacher in the not-for-profit sector, I was always worried about the organisational road-blocks to getting online education out there to people who needed it. But when I worked for the for-profit sector I was amazed by the way in which online courses were built from horrible resources, by people with insufficient qualifications and experience, in desparely short timelines. I had many a disagreement with my boss about the suitability of materials, and the appropriateness of assessment processes. In one situation, I was still developing one course while students were being enrolled.


  1. […] While you do get the occasional “this class is shit” response, none too useful at midterm or at the class’ conclusion really, most students tend to provide useful feedback. More generally, the vast majority of students take the class seriously and treat it much like they would a bricks and mortar course. However, I would be remiss not to note that on more than one occasion the comment “it’s a lot of work for an online class” has been made.  This always induces some head scratching on my part; one, because though the required reading is substantial it’s hardly excessive: less than 80 pages total a week (and remember there are no hour long lectures to attend so reading time basically equals the amount of time one would spend sitting listening to one’s professor in a physical classroom). Second, why would anyone want to devalue the product they’ve purchased? Shouldn’t one expect their online course to be as instructive and demanding as a more traditional one? Does this hint at a segment of America’s student population that sees online learning as cheap, easy, and less demanding? […]


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