Scam & Fake Online Colleges: How Do I Know?

JULY 3, 2018

With most careers requiring more complex skills and specialization than ever before, many employers require candidates to hold a degree to complete an application for employment. To become more qualified, make more money and gain a competitive edge, earning a college degree can be a great way to boost knowledge, skills, and credentials. A popular option for many people nowadays is to obtain an online degree that is “readily available”.  But, how do you know an online college is not just looking to make a buck off aspiring students? Understanding the essentials of online colleges can help potential students learn distinguishing factors of fake online colleges, and accredited online colleges.

What is online college?

Online education is any distance learning wherein students and teachers interact over the Internet rather than at a physical location. Multiple continuing and higher education options are now available online for students including certificates, associates, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Like campus universities, online schools offer college credit and degree-earning potential through a higher learning institution; however, online college students earn course requirements over the internet rather than at the actual “brick and mortar” building. Students pay tuition and other associated expenses just as they would at a traditional college, but they have greater flexibility in completing a program of study, allowing individuals to meet their educational goals while still working and fulfilling personal responsibilities.

How do you know if they are scam or fake online colleges?

Everywhere you turn – on the television, Internet, radio, and magazines – online colleges advertise how quickly and easily students can earn a degree through an online program. With so many online programs to choose from, potential students should protect their time and wallets from scams by checking accreditation and looking for signs that a program may not be legitimate.

Consumers should take time to check and see if the degree-offering institution holds reputable accreditation. Accreditation is the process conducted by an outside authority who measures quality standards and validates program learning. Federal financial aid, which is commonly utilized to fund education, can only be offered by an institution with institutional accreditation, so this is key to recognize when examining an online college. Begin by checking the college website and determine which institutional accreditation is listed.

Next, check the sites of the Council for Higher Accreditation and the Department of Education to verify whether those accreditors are also legitimate. Lastly, make sure your program does not have a programmatic accreditation or licensing requirement that may not be met by the institution.

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Warning Signs for Scam and Fake Online Colleges

Once you have determined the college’s accreditation, watch for these warning signs:

  • Earning a degree takes hard work and dedication. If you are being told it is quick and easy, be suspicious.
  • Legitimate online colleges have a physical address. If you cannot find their location, or if they only offer an email or post office box, you should be concerned.
  • College costs money, but you shouldn’t expect to pay for the entire degree at once. If asked for payment for the entire program up front, do not cough up the cash.
  • Admission officers and program coordinators should not be pushy. If a salesperson is trying to browbeat you into registering, do not sign anything until you are confident you are ready to enroll.

How do you enroll in an online college? 

Once you have located an accredited school of interest and have determined they are not a scam online college, it is time to pursue your academic ambitions. Before enrolling in an online college, you must determine if the college has specific criteria for acceptance including a required GPA, standardized test scores, or letters of recommendations, or if the college is open enrollment. Colleges with open enrollment will allow you to enroll with a high school diploma or GED, a desire to learn, and the requisite financial resources.

Navigating the road back to college is a daunting task for most anyone. Fortunately, the best online colleges for 2018 are provided by our team at Online Campus Colleges, so you can easily locate accredited, affordable online colleges nationwide.