How Much is a Free Education Worth?

August 22, 2012 by Careerminds

Getting a formal college degree is extremely expensive these days, and at the same time, free or affordable online education courses seem to be exploding like wildfire. The combination of these two facts, seems, at first glance, to present a problem with a clear solution. However, the quandary lies with employers. Do they value self-education as a valid form of learning, or do they think it’s a waste of time?

According to, the over-abundance of open education is being met with quite a bit of skepticism. Employers are staying quite intransigent on the concept and may need a little help budging on the issue.  In order to shine a positive light on your online or self-taught education, you might need to try a few of the following ideas in order to get your foot in the door.

Focus on your employability skills. Also known as key competencies, these are the skills that will help you get and keep the job, regardless of any formal education.  Many times, employers will favor an applicant who is simply more employable over one with a highly trained background but without any obvious basic, critical, or comprehensions skills that will translate well into the job setting.

Highlight the personal qualities required to be self-taught. A self-taught learner must possess a great deal of leadership, drive, and motivation. Many people who are self-taught have a lot to offer in these areas.  Make sure to demonstrate your punctuality, cooperation skills, flexibility and positive attitude too.

Flaunt your technology know-how. Virtually every employer is looking for computer- literate employees. Be sure to be able to present potential employers with an up-to-date Linked In profile, and be able to exhibit your ability to exchange email, use the internet, work with Microsoft Word or other word processing programs, and create spreadsheets.

Create a syllabus. Just because you were self-taught does not mean that you did not learn as much about how to be a paralegal as your formally taught competitors.  By presenting your potential employer with a self-made syllabus, you will be able to give more credit to your self-education.  Also consider doing this if you received an online education.  Employers need to feel that your knowledge is legitimate and putting it in writing is an easy way for them to feel good about hiring you.

Show them, don’t just tell them, that you can do it. Go into any interviews knowing exactly what kind of duties will be expected of you in the position. Be ready to demonstrate that you have the ability to produce the quality of work desired, regardless of the fact that you do not have a formal degree from a traditional college. One way to let your skills speak for themselves is by offering to perform for the interviewer right then and there.  Tell your interviewer to put your knowledge to the test if your self-taught background keeps coming up.

You can get the job with a self-taught or online education, as long as you display all of the other employability qualities that employers look for. Approach the interview with complete confidence in yourself and your ability to do the job you’re there to get. Make and maintain good eye contact, and don’t shy away from talking about your education.  Self-taught or not, if you’re qualified for the job then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get it. Lead with your strengths and abilities and walk away with a job offer that you deserve.


Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.



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