6 Warning Signs to tell if an Online
Degree is a Scam.
Should You consider an online degree?
We see the ads on TV. Stay at home, avoid the traffic and parking and commute time – avoid the weather walking to classes – avoid the rigid class schedule. Stay in the comfort of your home, work in your PJ’s. Work at you own pace and schedule. It all sounds so good. But is it?
Let’s talk about the obvious first. Do you have the discipline to do the work on your own? Will you work with no professor checking to see if you are in class? Can you work by yourself and your only contact a computer screen? Will you be disciplined enough to do the work?
If so – there are many advantages to an Online Degree. Time at home to watch the kids or you can have a full-time job. Your classes are then when you are off work and/or during your weekends. It could be an ideal answer for you getting that degree and fitting it into your lifestyle.
So how do you choose?
There are now so many online programs to choose from – one can become confused and vulnerable to “degree mill” scams. It can become murky trying to determine which Is Legit or a Scam.
Does the degree come with Higher Education Accreditation (Chea)? Please be sure it does! Don’t waste your money on a “paper degree” that holds no “water” in the real world and will not pass the job interview “muster”.
The Warning Signs the Online Degree is a Scam.
- The Accreditation seems iffy. The first thing a student must look for in a program – Is it Legit? Is what you are seeing in a website or TV advertisement trustworthy? It is accredited and worthwhile. The student must visit sites that confirm the Accreditation. One of the reliable places to check is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or CHEA. It is a great source to get the information you need.
From their website – here is:
CHEA At A Glance
- Largest institutional higher education membership organization in the United States, with approximately 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities.
- Sixty recognized institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations.
- Governed by a 20-person board of college and university presidents, institutional representatives and public members.
- A primary national voice for accreditation and quality assurance to the U.S. Congress and U.S. Department of Education.
- A primary national voice for accreditation to the general public, opinion leaders, students and families.
- A representative of the U.S. accreditation community to international audiences.
- The School’s Name sounds familiar and prestigious – but is it? Sometimes you read the schools name and you feel you know it. Sometimes a program will Modify a well-known school name slightly. It can then “steal” the original school’s reputation. Some schools will fabricate the faculty names and their experience also.
If there is any doubt – do more research. Actually – always do the research – call the school – ask to talk to a counselor or the faculty member who will guide your education. Do it before enrolling.
- Check the student services. Can you talk to someone to ask questions? Legitimate Online Courses will have many resources available to their students – Counselors to talk to, technology support, online libraries, staff members to answer questions.
Possibly ask for students already enrolled and learning who can advise you. Can you find all these “things” through their website? Explore around the “campus” website so to speak. Insure it is legit before spending any money and enrolling.
- The Degree seems fast and easy. If it sounds too easy and fast – it is. A degree takes a certain number of “credit hours” to get that degree. Any legitimate “degree granting” school will demand the required number of credits and a specific selection of courses to satisfy the degree requirements. It takes time, work and dedication. It is not fast.
- There is pressure to enroll and pay. A degree mill will “bug” you to enroll. The salesperson will not leave you alone. There will be more asking you to buy now rather than explaining the online school’s curriculum and benefits for you.
Ask for well-known and successful alumni – Ask to talk to some people who have completed your desired degree and are now in the workforce – Ask to talk to a professor or counselor.
Don’t let yourself be pressured into enrolling until you are comfortable they have what you need and are legit. Only enroll when you are sure you are ready to make that financial and time commitment. It is work – it is your time – it is your future – be ready to start.
- The school’s physical location is hard to pinpoint and confirm. And – the school wants a lot of money upfront. These two can go hand in hand. Google the school’s actual location. Call the local Better Business Bureau or Local Chamber of Commerce in that town. Get some confirmation they are Legit.
Most legitimate schools do not have you pay large amounts of money upfront. Usually you pay for the credit hours you are taking in that semester or quarter (which ever term they use). You then pay for the next semester and so on.
If you are uncomfortable with anything you are learning or being told before you enroll – don’t do it until you get all your answers. There is always that little voice in your “soul” that does not feel right – get all the answers before saying yes to spending your money. Make sure – Is it Legit or a Scam.
I included an excerpt from an article written in 2013 that reaffirms my thoughts here. Remember, this is your future and you must act to protect it.
“When searching for a university that offers online courses, students must inquire about accreditation,” says Susan Aldridge, a senior fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “Accreditation doesn't guarantee quality, but does provide more assurance that there is oversight regarding the instruction and their authority to issue degrees.”
During the typical accreditation process, a nongovernmental body conducts reviews and site visits to assess faculty, student support services, finance and facilities, curricula and other factors. There are so many so-called “accreditation mills” – groups that will accredit schools using minimum standards – out on the Internet that it can be particularly easy for online students to get involved with schools that lack legitimacy, experts say.
“They have very misleading names. They sound like they are these wonderful institutions but they are not,” says Judith S. Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA. “This is especially a problem for international students. We take our complex higher education system for granted. Someone will see something called ‘U.S. University' and assume it's okay, but it's not. It's just a degree.”
To see whether an accrediting agency is legitimate, students should check to see if it's recognized either by the council or the U.S. Department of Education.
Both groups investigate accreditors to ensure they are using appropriate standards when they are evaluating schools. But students can only receive federal student aid from schools accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. government.
The council, a private sector group, publishes a list of accrediting organizations recognized by both it and the federal government.[Learn how to vet a for-profit online program.]
The federal government recognizes seven regional accreditors, which evaluate schools in certain parts of the country, while the council recognizes six.
Both groups also recognize fewer than a dozen national accreditors, such as the Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation and the Distance Education and Training Council Accrediting Commission, which evaluate faith-based schools or career-oriented programs. Many religious institutions have regional accreditation as well.
Quote from an article By Devon Haynie, News Editor | Oct. 16, 2013, at 9:30 a.m.
Links to research more information.
“Online College Videos” – 1 video of well-known colleges – 1 video of less known accredited.
Please don’t forget – research and ask questions – make certain you are comfortable and sure an Online Degree is for you. Then you can buy – not before.
By David Kerchner 4.10.2017