SolveYourProblem Article Series: Online Degrees
Is An Online Degree Program For Me?


Watch Out For Fake Online Degree Programs

More and more online degree programs are being designed not to help you learn, but instead to take the money out of your pocket. Every year these schools take hundreds of thousands of dollars from students who are just looking to learn, leaving them with nothing but a pretty piece of paper that has no real value. Obviously this can be devastating to the well-meaning student, and to ensure that you arenít the person that gets taken advantage of, there are a few things to watch for. Most of these things all diploma mills will have in common, but if even two or three of these crop up you should run the other way screaming bloody murder.

The first and most common method a school will use is that of a fake accreditation site. Any online degree program can boast that it offers a fully accredited program. However, it doesnít matter if the degree program is accredited Ė what matters is who the program is accredited by. A lot of diploma mills will have an accreditation mill working behind them that will likely have a slick looking website that is all style and very little substance. To make sure you donít get taken advantage of be sure to check with the regional association before handing over your information and losing thousands of dollars.

Most fake programs wonít give you a lot of contact information. If there is no phone number or address you should probably begin to look somewhere else. Sure, email can be very convenient, however any legitimate school will allow you access to someone over the phone. If you canít get a hold of anyone, than it probably isnít a legitimate school.

As mentioned above, most diploma mills are all style and no substance. This goes for their website as well. They will likely have a very impressive website with all kinds of links and information on it, but donít believe that just because there are tons of testimonials and links that the school is for real. Diploma mills are capable of hiring people to make very nice looking websites Ė what else are they going to do with all their ill-gotten money but look for ways to make more?

A lot of fake schools (and real ones) have a website that ends in .edu. Keep in mind that anyone can purchase these domains, a real school, a fake school or Johnny from down the street. The .edu ending looks official, and thatís why many diploma mills will purchase it. Donít be fooled though, just because it says .edu doesnít mean that the program is in any way affiliated with an educational organization.

Many fake schools have an FAQ somewhere on their website because they know that questions are going to pop up in your head. Usually they will answer the questions that are most common, but they wonít get too in depth, or different answers will contradict each other. Half of the diploma mills will flat out lie to you in order to separate you from your money. The more funding the diploma mill has the better the FAQ will seem Ė but you should never believe everything you read on the Internet. The best way to get past this problem is to phone or visit the school.

Lastly if you think that something sounds too good to be true than it usually is. This applies to everything in life Ė including online schools. Itís ok for the school to make a good deal Ė after all, they do have competition Ė but watch out for the schools that try to make you think that you can finish your masterís degree in two weeks. The other major lie they use in this scenario is that they say you wonít have to do that much work. Getting a degree takes work, it doesnít matter whether itís online or not Ė so donít be fooled.

If you watch out for all the above signs when youíre looking at an online program youíll be able to keep your money out of the hands of some of the internet con artists. The best advice is to either find out information through a third party (such as a message board) or try to contact the school itself. If you do both of these you should be able to separate the legitimate schools from the diploma mills.

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