How to separate the good online universities from the bad ones
The term “diploma mill” gets tossed around a lot, and there are many institutions out there that are happy to offer a degree at a cheap, or heavily discounted price and minimal effort on the part of a student. A lot of people would like to pursue higher education in a bid to improve their career prospects. Due to the convenience that online colleges provide to the working class, many individuals may be enticed by them. However, there are some suspect schools that dupe potential students, who end up enrolling only to realize much later that the credentials obtained are not recognized in their countries and by most employers. If you want to know how to avoid diploma mills, there are a number of things you should be aware of.
These diploma mills may have a name that is almost similar to a reputable school. The aim of this is so that potential students can think there is a link between the reputable school and the fake one. You must always cross check to find out if the school has been accredited with a recognized agency. Some schools are accredited by fake agencies, so find out if the agencies are legitimate or scams.
Scrutinize the website of the school and check their contact information. A genuine school will provide all their contact information, including a mailing and physical address. A non-reputable school may not provide any contact information at all on their website. Alternatively, they may provide a third party mailing address or they may constantly keep changing their contact information. Fake schools offer degrees that can be completed in less time than normal. Normally, the courses can be completed within a few days, weeks or even months. Some even offer overnight shipping of the degree certificate or agree to backdate it once you have made payment. Also, check if the website has been properly written or there are a lot of grammar and punctuation errors. It may be patently obvious that you are researching a less-than-reputable school just from their website alone, or their methods of contact. And always check their accreditation.
Schools which are not genuine often do not have any minimum requirements for admission. Their basic policy is if you can afford to pay the fees then you can join. There may be only minimum mention of how the studies will be carried out and how many hours a student should study before they can graduate. Genuine schools normally charge tuition fees per module or per class. However, a fake school will charge per degree. The main focus of the school will be on you getting the degree rather than on the skills you will obtain by enrolling for their classes. There will also be minimal interaction with lecturers during study. Diploma mills are simply a means to make money, often at the expense of you.
Diploma mills generally make it easy to apply for financial aid (these students are referred to internally as “Title IV” or “Title 4” students), but generally make no information available about repayment of those loans. Since the responsibility is yours to repay your financial aid, once you have received the funds for tuition, they have no real incentive to teach you strategies to repay your loans in a responsible way. For this reason, they have come under fire in the past few years by regulators for their abuse of the financial aid system.
If the school is relatively cheaper than other normal schools, then it could be a scam. Before you start your search for a school online, take time to find out what regular colleges charge for the courses you are interested in and use that information as a baseline for your subsequent research. This will give you a good idea of how much you will be expected to pay in tuition fees. If you want to know how to avoid diploma mills, you must be quite keen and observant. Do not ignore any warning signs. Take time to thoroughly investigate the school before you enroll for a study program. If you are not totally sure if a school is a scam or not, then you should probably not enroll in it.