The reason why there are misunderstandings about online education is partly due to the existence of fake online universities or what most people call diploma mills. As the name suggests, these are online “establishments” that, for a couple hundred dollars, award people with diplomas for online degrees without the need for an actual online education. After receiving payment, these diploma mills either send you an electronic copy or an actual paper copy of the diploma you chose only after a few days. Now it seems convenient and all, but you’re actually paying someone thousands of dollars to print a diploma for a non-existent degree from a bogus university – just like designing and printing something at your own home. But more seriously, companies perform background checks on new employees, and whatever benefit you might have seen in doing such a deed would certainly vanish once you become blacklisted for faking your credentials.
Some may even be unwitting victims to online fraud, not realizing that the online university that they enrolled in was a bogus establishment, a situation that is actually more infuriating. As a way to prevent this from happening, here are the top 5 warning signs that you might be dealing with a fake online university:
Signs of a Fake University No.1: They offer (almost) every degree
Found an online university that caters to all of your interests, and by “all your interests” I meant the type that even offers a dog training degree? One foremost sign that you’re dealing with a fake is that it holds associate, bachelors, masters, doctoral, and post-doc degrees in almost every field you could think of. True educational institutions have specific and definite specializations – just take a look at the offerings of your nearest Ivy League university. If it’s one size fits all and it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably is.
Signs of a Fake University No.2: It doesn’t exist offline
Though the world wide web is an electronic creature, true establishments almost always have an organic feel to their web design. You could trace the author of the website, and the web team who developed it, and as the types of websites useful to online education show, a social component where you could find details about real people. Beware of the online university who doesn’t introduce its faculty, or doesn’t have any record of its management (i.e. President, Board of Directors). Also take note if the online university has an existing offline address that you could trace, or a brick and mortar institution that you could visit.
Signs of a Fake University No.3: They only charge a one-time fee
Universities usually charge according to the rates per academic unit; tuition fees depend on the number of credits that you take. Fake online universities only have a one-time, fixed-priced fee for their offerings and would usually amount to thousands of dollars for a particular degree. This would be different for alternatives to online degrees, but true online universities seldom offer many of these kinds of courses. If you’re asked to cough up a one-time fee for a diploma, then you’re dealing with a bogus institution.
Signs of a Fake University No. 4: They accept everyone
If the university you are applying to didn’t ask for your academic records, employment history, professor recommendations, or other credentials, then most probably they are scamming you. Educational admissions almost always have a distinguishing component that allows them to choose which students to admit. This is due to the fact that each institution has its own brand of educational standards that they need to uphold. If they admit you without asking you for any record, then they’re a fake.
Signs of a Fake University No.5: They offer little information
Educational institutions often have a prospectus or a printable educational material that explains each and every degree program, course requirement, course description, faculty listing, and university service available to the student – and that’s just an introduction. Fake universities usually can’t provide the same detail about their establishment; it’s harder to lie when too many details are involved.
These are just some warning signs that we’ve compiled to help our online learners. Do you know of other ways to spot the fake online university? Be sure to post your suggestions in the comments page.