So you’ve decided to take the plunge and continue your education online. Now the problem is, where do you sign up? Here’s where you have to be extra-careful not to get sucked into one of those bogus online “diploma mills” that are accredited in fantasyland. Translation: a diploma from one of those outfits isn’t worth the bytes it will take up on your hard drive, not to mention the paper it would be printed on.
How To Avoid Getting Scammed
The first thing to do before you submit your credit card information or sign up for a curriculum is to check the accreditation status of the online institution you wish to take courses at. Verify the institution by Google-ing it, and reading all available information. Two Web sites we’ve found to be extremely helpful in ascertaining the authenticity of online degree programs are GetEducated.com and CounterfeitDegrees.com. Both sites are useful for ferreting out the fakers and for finding online institutions with bona-fide e-learning courses as opposed to those that just want to rip you off. By the way, you get all this information free of charge.
Don’t Get Fooled By Sophistication and Savvy
Many of these “bogus” online diploma mills look for all the world like real institutions of higher learning. Many of their online advertising campaigns rival those of legitimate schools, so it’s easy to get fooled. Behind the facade is a scheme to reel you in with a “get educated quick” ploy that will promise you a degree in as few as 7 days. Don’t fall for it. Also beware of degree programs that promise to take into account your life experience, professional experience and workplace experience. Some even promise to take your hobbies into account. Yes, we all want to believe that what we’ve done with our lives outside the world of academia counts for something; it does, but not when there is minimal effort required. The bottom line is, these bogus institutions try (and succeed) in getting you to believe that you can earn a degree at any level – including a doctorate. That just ain’t so.
Legitimate Degree Programs Lose, Too
The proliferation of diploma mill scams has had an adverse effect on legitimate online degree programs offered by venerable colleges and universities. Many distinguished institutions have realized the potential of offering distance learning curricula to online students, only to be steamrolled by all the fraudulent online entities. Federal and state governments are woefully remiss in enacting anti-fraud legislation that would weed out the fakers, so it is up to students to literally do their homework to find a legitimate program that will give them the education they need to compete in the workplace.
Do Your Homework and Shop Around
Everyone should be familiar with the Latin expression “Caveat Emptor”. That means, “Let the buyer beware”. Keep that in mind when you are shopping around for an online degree program that suits your needs. As with everything else in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That is especially true of e-learning courses and schools that will tell you you can get an education while you sleep.
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