Avoiding Fake Degrees and Diploma Mills

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					Avoiding Fake Degrees and Diploma Mills
The Internet has created wonderful opportunities for countless students
to take advantage of distance learning opportunities. Online colleges and
universities offer excellent educations to working adults, the disabled,
and those who need to study with flexible hours. These online classes
also offer a substantial savings over the cost of attending a traditional
"bricks and mortar" school, since there is no cost for room and board and
lower expenses for staffing and transportation needs.
The down side is that there are also many "diploma mills" on the
Internet. These are scams that pose as reputable schools but are selling
worthless pieces of paper instead of offering real diplomas. They don't
provide a real education. They simply take your money. If you want a
genuine education, be sure you are enrolling at one of the many excellent
online colleges that will give you a thorough education.
There are several things you should look for in determining whether an
online program is legitimate. Unrealistic promises are a bad sign. No
reputable college will promise that you can graduate with a degree in a
matter of weeks. At the very least, a degree program should take 18
months to complete. A good program also won't promise that you can
graduate no matter what. Remember, you should have to work for your
degree. Paying a fee shouldn't be enough.
Look for accreditation, and then verify. Colleges and universities are
accredited by various organizations. Check carefully to see who the
accrediting agency is, and then confirm that it is legitimate. If an
online school tells you that it is "only a formality", or that they don't
need accreditation because they are an online school, don't waste your
time and money.
Six regional accrediting bodies that are reliable include the Middle
State Association of Colleges and Schools, the New England Association of
Schools and College, the North Central Association of Colleges and
Schools, the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, the Southern
Association of Colleges and Schools, and the Western Association of
Schools and Colleges. It's well worth it to take the time to visit their
websites.
Accreditation programs for U.S. schools should be located within the U.S.
In recent years, some diploma mills have gotten around their lack of
credentials by seeking accreditation in third world countries with low
educational standards. If it doesn't make sense to you, there's a reason.
A school in Montana with accreditation from a small island in the
Caribbean isn't likely to offer you a solid education. As always, if it
seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Look for the school's contact information. A good school will offer you
several ways to contact them. If a website doesn't offer a street address
and phone number, they may be hiding something. A school that is open and
honest will want to offer you every opportunity to talk to their
admissions staff and faculty. If the only thing they have is an online
form to fill out, you should definitely be suspicious.
Research the curriculum. When you look at the websites for online
schools, check out the various programs that are offered. You should be
able to look at some examples of the classes that are offered. Sample
coursework will give you an idea of the variety of classes and how in-
depth your education will be. If there is no mention on the website of
required classes or the amount of work you will be expected to complete,
there is a problem.
Learn about the faculty and staff. Online colleges and universities are
generally quite proud of their instructors. They will have biographies,
photos and contact information for at least some of their instructors on
the school's website. If you can't find the names of any instructors, it
might be because there aren't any.
Compare the school's size-to-major ratio. There are many outstanding
online schools that are relatively small, and these will generally offer
a limited number of degrees that they specialize in. What you don't want
to see is a small school that offers hundreds of diploma options. After
all, it's not possible to be teaching all of those classes if the school
is very small. It's a tip-off that they may simply be selling you a piece
of paper. If you take the proper precautions, you can find an excellent,
reputable online college or university that will give you a solid
education. In the end, it will award you with a diploma that you've truly
earned and that you can be proud of.
Andy West is a writer for Knowledge Fest and School Marks.

				
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