How to Spot Illegitimate Online Schools

Fake schools, which are better known as diploma mills, will take your “tuition” money and run straight for the hills—leaving you with a useless diploma. To make sure that you don’t enroll in a bogus online program when searching the internet, watch out for these red flags listed below.

4. Tuition is Super Cheap

Because scammers know that everyone is always looking for a bargain, illegitimate schools will offer degree programs at an extremely low price. You could write your harvard outline, but now you’re looking for a cheaper education, right? But if your gut instinct is telling you the price seems too good to be true, chances are it is. Online universities can ultimately be cheaper than traditional schools if you factor in how much you’ll be saving on transportation and housing costs for example, but online degree programs as a whole should cost about the same as a brick-and-mortar institution –if not, even a tad be higher, especially with for-profit online institutions. That said, do some thorough research and conduct price comparisons to see if the online version of the program you’re interested in is about the same cost at a traditional school.
How to Spot Illegitimate Online Schools

3. Promise of a Quick Course

Similar to finding a bargain, scammers are also highly aware that consumers don’t want to be in school forever and thus their fake schools promise expedited courses of study. While some online universities do in fact offer programs that can be earned at a slight quicker time frame, the key word is slight—if the school you are looking into says that you can earn at bachelor of science in one short year but you know that it normally takes 4 years, then your ringers should go off that something is not right. Online programs, while designed to make it easier for one to “attend classes” doesn’t make the length of the programs any shorter (only in rare cases). The programs are just as rigorous and informative as traditional courses and need the same amount of time frame to teach students.

2. No Way of Contacting Admission Office

Those interested in a school should always be able to speak to a representative in the flesh and get more information about the program, including retention and graduation rate, booklets to course schedules, and be able to find more information about faculty and staff. If there is a number on the website to call, don’t be afraid to use it to ask for additional information. If the school sounds shady, it probably is. Go ahead and do your own research about the school to see if any other consumers made any formal complaints about the school as well, don’t just go based on the good reviews the school might have posted on their site.

1. The Institution is Unaccredited

Schools that are accredited means that they have met an ideal academic standard and are fit to meet your needs. Brick-and-mortar institutions are accredited and online schools are no exception. Because scammers are smart and know that some students will be curious about accreditation however, typically even fake schools claim to be accredited by an illegitimate agency on their website(s). Sometimes these fake accrediting agencies are easy to spot out because they sound ridiculous; but other times they sound really authoritative and real. You can find lists of accredited institutions here.