Find An Accredited Online School

How To Avoid Diploma Mills or Non-Accredited Colleges and Universities

Online education has grown significantly over the past 10 to 20 years. Many reputable schools offer online programs that allow working adults to earn their college degrees while continuing to hold down their jobs and raise their families. Unfortunately, this growth has also seen a rise in unscrupulous non-accredited institutions that make false claims regarding their accreditation status.

Reasons To Attend An Accredited Institution Of Higher Learning

If you are contemplating enrolling in an online college to earn your degree, your first step should be to make sure you are enrolling in an accredited school. There are many reasons accreditation is important, including the following:

  • Only accredited schools can offer federal financial aid.
  • Credits earned from accredited colleges can be transferred to other accredited colleges.
  • Future employers will want to know that your degree was attained from an accredited school.
  • Accredited colleges offer programs of study that can prepare you with real-world knowledge and job skills.

What Is A Non-Accredited College or Diploma Mill?

Known in the world of higher education as a “diploma mill,” a fake college or university offers degrees for a price without providing any realistic education. It may seem that it would be simple to spot such an institution; unfortunately, these untrustworthy schools have learned many tricks to con individuals into thinking they are accredited and legitimate institutions of higher learning.

One of the primary ways a diploma mill attempts to look legitimate is by claiming accreditation. However, the accrediting agency or agencies with which they claim to be accredited are not legitimate either. One of the best ways to verify accreditation is to check the data base of accrediting agencies recognized by the U. S. Department of Education  to see if your school’s accreditation organization is included. You can also do a search for scam schools such as this one if you suspect your school is not legitimate.

Beware! Be On The Lookout For These Red Flags Of A Diploma Mill

An accredited college or university is interested in providing students with a meaningful educational experience that will prepare them for real-world careers while diploma mills are interested in taking your money without providing you with a true education. Here are some of the major warning signs of a fake school offering fake degrees:

  1. The promise that you can earn your degree in weeks or months is a sure sign that any school is only after your money. All legitimate programs take years to complete – even if you earn your degree completely online. An associate degree usually takes 2 years; a bachelor’s degree takes 4. Advanced degrees take different amounts of time based on the subject area, but most all master’s degrees and above will require at least 2 years of study.
  2. The purpose of education is to educate you and help you gain additional knowledge. A degree granted for life experience only is non-existent in the realm of legitimate higher education. Some schools may offer credit for life experience based on the results of exams, previous college credit, standardized testing and other means. However, the amount of credit allowed for such will vary from one institution to another and will never be enough to earn a full degree.
  3. When you enroll in an accredited school, you will likely talk to an enrollment advisor or representative who can answer many of your questions up front and help you go through the enrollment process. One of the first things you should discuss is tuition. Accredited schools are always paid per credit hour for the courses you take. If anyone offers you a price for a degree, you will know immediately that the school is a scam. Move on in your search immediately.
  4. As you research various colleges and universities online, pay attention the school’s URL (Internet Address). The vast majority of accredited schools will have “.edu” as part of the official URL which takes you to their website. If your school does not, you should beware.

These are just a few ways you can avoid getting roped into enrolling in a non-accredited college or university. To be sure your school is accredited you can also check the database of the National Council of Higher Education site to see if your school is truly accredited by an official accrediting agency.