Online Education Scam Prevention Information/Tips
Online learning is no longer thought of as just a fad in education. Also commonly known as distance education, online learning allows students to attend college or a university without having to be physically present in a classroom. Instead, this educational format has progressed to allow students to earn certificates, bachelor's degrees, and even advanced degrees completely online with the help of a broadband internet connection. Part of the appeal of online learning is the flexibility to attend classes on a schedule that will not interfere with the student's life. Parents, professionals maintaining full time jobs, teenagers who graduated from high school early, and executives making career changes are all part of the collective of individuals turning to online learning. The fact that online tuition tends to be cheaper than traditional on-campus learning and allows students to learn in a more intimate and personal environment have added to the popularity of online learning.
- Employers on Online Education: A look at some of the skeptical feelings employers may have about online degrees and the factors that help increase the credibility of the degree in their eyes.
- Earning An Education On The Internet: Check out this information for access to the opinions of professors teaching online, the worthiness of the education received, and a look at the types of students who go this route.
Just as there are advocates for online learning there are a number of individuals who point out that the design of distance learning still has many limitations. For some online learners the very freedom found in distance learning makes it difficult to find the discipline and self-motivation required to log onto classes and turn in assignments on time without supervision. Other students may struggle with the lag time required to receive feedback from their professors and find it hard to adjust to the lack of social interaction. Arguably, the biggest obstacle to online learning may be the likelihood of being scammed.
- Are For-Profit Colleges Hurting Online Education's Reputation?: A downside to online education to consider is the negative reputations plaguing some for-profit schools. This article examines the business practices that are causing the controversy.
- TColleges: This article covers some of the concerns of online education from for-profit colleges.
- Getting the Word Out: Unethical business practices and frauds involving higher education may come in many forms. This article examines the most common issues that students may face.
When considering the merits of distance learning, students have to pay close attention to accreditation. Accreditation can be simply defined as an approval process that evaluates the merits of the education that is provided. The purpose of this accreditation is to ensure that an acceptable standard of quality is met, one that is recognized and accepted by similar institutes of higher learning. A student who ends up taking classes from a non-accredited institute may find that their degree is virtually worthless to employers and course credit may not be transferable to another institute. Additionally, students will need to attend an accredited school in order to receive federal aid or tuition assistance from employers.
Accreditation in some countries is done through a government authority. In the United States, however, accreditation is a peer-reviewed process conducted by various educational boards. The government does, however, evaluate the quality of these accrediting agencies through the United States Department of Education (ED). The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) also examines these accrediting agencies.
- Accreditation & Quality Assurance (PDF): The CHEA explains to the public how accrediting agencies operate.
- Accreditation In The United States: The ED provides an in-depth look at university accreditation procedures and types of accreditation.
- The Importance Of Accreditation: Review the basics of why accreditation matters and learn more about the most widely accepted and recognized types.
When comparing online learning options students will also need to consider the merits of regional and national accreditation. National accreditation usually refers to for-profit schools while regional accreditation is generally widely recognized as the standard accreditation form for most colleges. Specialized accreditation is also required for some specific professional programs such as law school or psychology. Most legitimate online schools will provide their accreditation information in an area that is easily visible on their website. Students can check that the accrediting agency listed is valid.
- American Bar Association: Legal education is a long and expensive process. The ABA is responsible for accrediting such programs to ensure graduates are ready to sit for the bar exam.
- American Psychological Association: Review the accreditation standards for graduate level psychology programs and types of programs that are given accreditation such as postdoctoral residency programs.
One of the largest scams concerning online learning is diploma mills, so called schools that will give any student a diploma for cash. Often these programs may require little if any coursework, instead, students may be told that they can get a degree simply by using their career and personal experiences for course credit. These schools also tend to have extremely lax admissions standards or may claim students can get their degree for a fracture of the time that earning this degree would normally require. For instance, a school that claims a bachelor's degree can be earned in less than a year for a student with no previous college credit should send up red flags. Some of these bogus schools have even gone so far as to create their own unrecognized accrediting agencies and many utilize sophisticated websites to encourage public confidence. To avoid being scammed, students should pay attention to the URL; practically all academic institutes have an .edu suffix.
- Accreditation Compared To Diploma Mills: A diploma mill is not the same thing as an unaccredited institute. In fact, there are some circumstances when an unaccredited school is legitimate.
- Diploma Mills: Degrees Of Deception: The Federal Trade Commission provides consumer information on the types of deceptions practiced by diploma mills. General guidelines that can be used to identify these fraudulent institutions and reporting fraud is also discussed.
- Online Degrees: Schools Scam Aspiring Students: This report goes into detail on how illegitimate online colleges lure trusting individuals into paying for useless degrees, and provides resources for how scam victims can take action.
- Online Scams & Diploma Mills: These basic tips may help some students identify diploma mills from legitimate institutes.