Is your dream to go back to school? There are many people out there just like you, who want to better their lives and provide for their families by furthering their education. Getting an online diploma can be a great option for busy people. However, some online schools are far more interested in taking your money than they are in actually teaching you anything.
Almost all employers will only recognize a diploma from an accredited university. Schools are not accredited directly by the US Department of Education, but by recognized authorities and accrediting institutions. Sham schools will often tiptoe around this and use words like “licensed,” or “recognized.” To be absolutely sure that an online school is legitimate, you can contact the better business bureau to ask them about the school’s credentials and whether or not it’s accredited.
To earn a legitimate degree takes a good deal of time and a lot of hard academic work. Online schools dubbed “diploma mills” will offer unsuspecting education-seekers degrees based on “life experience” or a degree earned in a disproportionately short amount of time. These schools may also charge “per degree” rather than per credit hour or semester. Watch out for online schools that have foreign addresses or use P.O. boxes. If earning an online degree seems to require little to no academic work, or there is almost no communication with professors, you might be dealing with a diploma mill. Another sign of a diploma mill is a requirement to take an online exam that seems far too easy to pass, or lets you take it multiple times to ensure that you pass it.
The following online schools have been reported to issue useless diplomas:
- Belford University
- University of Berkley (watch out for schools with names very similar to those of real, reputable institutions)
- Jefferson High School Online (for getting a GED – online school scams can apply to high school diplomas too!)
These fake online schools prey on people who are trying to improve their lives through education. Don’t fall victim to one of these scams. There are some legitimate online schools. Remember to check with the BBB to ensure that the online school you’re considering will grant you a real diploma that will be recognized by the military, employers and admissions offices. Many brick-and-mortar schools also offer legitimate online programs or classes. Also, if there’s a chance that you might transfer to a different school in the future, make sure that the school you enroll in now offers credits that are easily transferable.