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Exploring online degree programs can be time-consuming and tedious for online college students. Today, it can be unsettling to see "easier" or "faster" options appear everywhere, promising completion in as little as a year! Doesn't it sound too good to be true? Unfortunately, many students continue to fall victim to online education scams.

Online Education Scams

Are you considering enrolling in an online degree program to advance your career or learn new skills for a future job? Online learning is in high demand not only in the United States but around the world. Virtual classrooms and e-learning or distance education courses are some terms used to describe it.

The thing is, all of these facilitate learning and adaptability. The problem arises when you later discover that your degree program is a scam. Many experts at the Education 2.0 Conference believe education scams to be a crucial topic as students genuinely desire to earn their diplomas.

Diploma Mills

Diploma mills are academic institutions that operate without the knowledge of the state or higher education accrediting organizations. They usually have a list of degrees for a set price, but they have not gone through curriculum approval.

These academic institutions may fabricate low admission policies or claim that students can obtain their degrees in less time than they would at traditional colleges.

One of the telltale signs of a bogus online college or university is when they guarantee a degree without requiring any coursework or relying solely on work experience. These programs do not require schoolwork; instead, students are told that they can earn their degree primarily by utilizing their professional and personal experiences for college credit.

Tip: If an online school claims you can complete your four-year degree in a year, even if you have no prior college credits, be wary.

Many have also established sophisticated websites to assure students that they are attending "legitimate" and "certified" schools. But, in reality, they are not; the online college program is not invalid or unrecognized.

Why Is Accreditation Necessary?

As more colleges and universities in the country offer online degree programs, these schools and their respective programs must undergo accreditation.

Accreditation functions as a guarantee of the quality and credibility standards to which a university or college adheres.

Watch Out For Red Flags

You must know the warning signs when looking for an online degree program. Here are some common red flags, discussed by experts at global education conferences, to avoid at all costs when deciding on the best online education program:

Unconvincing Duration For The Degree

A few schools guarantee you will receive your degree in less than a year. Has anyone ever earned a college degree in such a short period? If an online program gives the impression of being a "simple process" or providing "instant results," you should proceed to the next option.

While online degree programs have flexible schedules and allow you to learn at your own pace, they still require significant time and effort to complete the coursework.

Questionable Payment Method

Tuition is charged by credit hour or course at reputable, accredited colleges and universities. Even before admission, demanding a large sum of money immediately is a huge red flag. Universities and colleges, in general, do not require full payment for an entire semester or even an academic year.

No Communication With Mentors Or Professors

Students have the right to request personal, phone, or video chat interactions with their advisors, professors, or mentors. Consider your options if the program does not allow direct communication with school personnel.

Suspicious Scholarships

Sometimes, a "financial aid representative" will contact you and request a one-time payment to "process a scholarship." Some scholarship grants are available online that claim legitimacy but charge an application fee. If you fall into this trap and are asked to wait for that specific "scholarship grant," you will most likely receive a fraudulent check or nothing.

Recognizing these red flags and more can help you avoid squandering an opportunity, albeit unintentionally, by enrolling in an online educational scam or diploma mill.

Final Thoughts

Deciding to pursue your degree through an online program is undoubtedly a big step that will open doors of opportunity for you, but it is not without risks from the start! Online education scams are common; you should conduct extensive research and attend upcoming education conferences before enrolling.

Meanwhile, be on the lookout for warning signs, trust your instincts, and make sound decisions, or you'll find yourself frustrated, empty-handed, financially depleted, and without a college diploma before you know it.

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A member of the Education 2.0 Conference team, Shobhit never misses an opportunity to learn something new daily. Whether reading up on today's fraud/scam prevention trends in EdTech or researching issues related to fake and spam online education courses, there is always so much to discuss!