As online degrees grow in popularity for earning a new degree or qualification, so does the risk of falling for online education scams. For prospective online applicants, searching for a degree program can sometimes feel lost in the wilderness. Students can find a wealth of information related to the online education industry, programs, certifications, and courses. Since many prospective students are usually working adults, more and more people are turning to the internet to study and learn from the internet and obtain a college degree.
The easy availability of online education programs comes with promises of quick, effortless degrees that seem too good to be true. Sometimes that’s precisely the case, and students scammed by the schemes are left with a sizable hole in their pocket and no verified credentials. Many so-called “degree mills” on the internet promise to give you the degree in half the time compared to studying for a degree. The growth of online education programs in recent years has led to more opportunities for legitimacy and transparency. Despite the swift development of the online education process and the respective scrutiny of institutes by the accredited education councils, scams persist on the web, as shared by a notable speaker at Education 2.0 Conference.
Let us take a more refined look at a few of the warning signs that an online education program may be a scam and standard measures to avoid them:
- Accreditation status – For any degree, certificate, or diploma, ensure that the accreditation status is recognized through the official education council. If prospective students feel a college falsely claims accreditation, they can contact the accrediting agency for verification and further assistance. Government websites also provide a searchable database of verified and officially accredited programs by various schools. With the growth of alternative credentials, such as badges and certificates, some training programs may not be accredited. Such options may include online coding courses or other skills training programs offered by a business. To gauge the legitimacy of such credentials, consider the benefits offered through the program.
- The familiar name – Sometimes scammers take the opportunity to steal a renowned name and modify it. It makes the program look almost legit. Deemed educationists from the Education 2.0 Conference have confirmed that some fraudsters even fabricate the faculty names and credentials to make the course look legit and familiar. By doing all this, their main aim is to dupe the candidate by obtaining personal information. The key is extensive research on the program scrutinizing everything possible from the faculties to the accredited officials.
- Degree without effort – Prospective students should start questioning the second they are told they can get the degree without much time and effort. One example is schools giving college credit for experience in the military or workforce. Many schools operate without the supervision of state or professional education agencies. Students new to online education can easily fall prey to these fraudulent institutions. While previous learning assessments are used at some accredited colleges and universities, credit only comes with lots of prior work. Many accredited institutions use these options, but the key is they still require effort. There are going to be some exams required as a part of gaining credit.
- Negligible resources for students – Legitimate online education programs should have various resources available, including technical support, academic advisory, library services, and other resources. If prospective students cannot find evidence of those resources, or if they can not reach any staff members regarding the same, they should be vigilant of that online program. Students should check the institution’s physical and web addresses to gauge its legitimacy. In addition, Most colleges and universities will have a URL ending in .edu. Any pages with other domains should be verified adequately before proceeding as shared by online education experts at Education 2.0 Conference.
- Incentives and freebies for enrollment – Prospective students should watch out for excessively lucrative offers and exclusive benefits in exchange for enrollment. If the advisers or counselors are more interested in selling the online education program than discussing its outcome and prospects, it is probably a sign that you are suspicious. Students should be wary if the education program gives easy admission based only on a resume. Without a proper rigorous assessment in place, it is improbable for a legitimate online program to offer admission.
- Upfront money demand – Experts at Education 2.0 Conference shared that one sign of a shady online operation demands a lot of money upfront. Counselors usually demand vast amounts of money instead of a lucrative salary at a reputed firm, but students should be skeptical about such programs. A major red flag is that the university is asking you to pay your entire tuition fee before you even start your course. Students must collect as much information as possible about the online education program before deciding.
- Lucrative scholarship grants in exchange for admission – Always watch for fake grants and scholarships. Students actively looking for admission into a new course are the easy targets of these scammers. Most commonly, phishing is used to purposely fake the whole admission process, congratulating you on being one of the few to get entire scholarship grants in exchange for confidential information. The critical step is to restrict and block the user from your email list and report the phishing to your concerned officials.
After COVID-19, the demand for online education courses and certifications has grown significantly, and so has the rise of scams related to these educational programs. These scammers look for the right opportunity to dupe prospective students by luring them into exclusive limited-time admission with entire scholarship grants, accessible or no assessment, and faster delivery of their degree without any considerable effort from the student side. This blog aims to be aware and spread knowledge on how to gauge your subsequent online programs, do thorough research, and make an informed decision. In addition, one can always look for the upcoming Education 2.0 Conference this winter season, where eminent educationists will discuss many such burning topics from around the world.