Juggling school, work, family, and friends is not an easy task. Because of the pressures of balancing all of these things, online education has seen a rise in popularity. While this seems like a good idea on the surface and works for many people, be careful of scams and diploma mills that sell instant degrees. While it might sound like you’re getting a real credential, these programs are not accredited.
One of the craziest scams out there is one that awarded a pug dog named Chester an MBA from Rochville University. The diploma was sent from the United Arab Emirates and awarded for “life and work experience.”
In 2008, a couple named Dixie and Steven Randock were sentenced to three years in prison for fraud. They sold thousands of fake degrees from more than 100 schools. If you meet someone with a degree from Saint Regis University in Liberia, know that their diploma is fake.
Many people think that they are getting legitimate degrees when they buy from these places. Others know that they are purchasing false documents. While many people purchasing degrees might just want a credential to seem more qualified on resumes, other times people with fake degrees can be dangerous. Laurence Perry claimed to be a doctor whose credentials came from online schools that turned out to be fake. He was convicted of manslaughter after a child in his care died.
One of the most notable people to hold a degree from a fake institution was Laura Callahan who worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Her degrees turned out to be from Hamilton University, which is not a legitimate school.
There are many signs that can indicate that you’re dealing with a fake college or university. Accreditation is a big thing to watch out for. Also be suspicious of any school that claims you can earn a degree in a short amount of time. Depending on whether or not you’ve completed some coursework or passed certain exams, a college degree takes months if not years to complete.
Also, watch out for pushy advertising. If you find out about the school through a pop-up that won’t leave your computer screen, it’s most likely a scam. Legitimate institutions aren’t as aggressive in their marketing.
The U.S. Department of Education has a list of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs that you can use to check a school’s accreditation. You can also access the Council for Higher Education Accreditation database.
While there are a handful of legitimate institutions that are not accredited, most colleges and universities which issue diplomas are verified by one of the institutions listed in these databases.
Online education can make the goal of obtaining a college diploma or an advanced degree a little bit easier, but that does not mean that you should expect it to be easy. There are no shortcuts. A legitimate institution will expect you to work hard for the diploma. Remember that a diploma represents an education and should reflect all of the hard work that you put into earning it. If it seems too easy, then it probably is!