There are many college options out there, and one of them includes online schooling. So if you are planning to get an online degree, it is quite important to know how to do a proper selection of an accredited college. Many traditional universities offer online-only programs along with on-campus learning, and some colleges are mostly or even 100% online. Online degrees are the best for students who do not have time to attend a regular college. Online colleges and universities give students opportunities to excel in their academic careers and provide flexible ways to pursue studies by learning new skills, especially targeting working adults. The common question that most students ask about online colleges and universities is their authenticity. They can be genuine if backed up by reputed and prestigious institutions. Let us see whether online degrees are legit or not in this article.
Are Online Degrees Legit?
You can determine whether online degrees are legit or not by carefully verifying certain things about the online school such as the location of the school, corresponding traditional campuses, student support system, student reviews and feedback, admission criteria, accreditation status, etc. The degree of an online school is very much likely to be illegit if they give offer enrollments, give incentives to new students, offer quick degrees, pressurize for enrollments, have a strange physical address or are located overseas, and have no student support system or proper correspondence address and does not have a valid URL. Below are some tips and tricks that can help you decide whether or not an online college is legitimate.
The university which is offering you the degree must be properly accredited. This means that it has to be recognized by any government body or the Ministry of Education of that country. You should carefully verify institutional as well as programmatic accreditations. Now some universities seem to be accredited but you need to ensure that the agency that has accredited the university must be recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation. If a university offers a valid degree you can see its accreditation status on its website. You also have an option of searching the accreditation status of a particular university or college on Accreditation.org. Now online training programs can not always be accredited because they are not regular degree programs. Hence, you should enroll in courses provided by reputed online course providers like Coursera or Udemy. This way you will be sure that you get a legit online degrees upon completion of the course.
Verify the address
Even if a college operates online, it needs to have a physical address so that the students can contact the college authorities for their queries. There are important things to know that accrediting agencies do not recognize universities without a physical location or office. You might also see fake infrastructure on a university’s website while it is just there to lure students for enrollment. You need to be aware of these things and not fall for scams.
Corresponding traditional campuses
You can opt for online courses or programs which are managed by traditional and reputed colleges or universities. The best thing here is that they provide the same quality of education to their online students and their faculties will also not change. In this way, you can be sure that the online degrees that you are getting is 100 percent legit.
Look for a student support system
The student support system is an essential part of an education system and all accredited online universities have a good student support system for the betterment of their students. You will get library facilities, assignments, tutorials, advisors, student services, and many more throughout the course until you get your degree. Above all, this student support system is also helpful to know about placements and career guidance.
Look for student reviews and feedback
Try to check the reviews of students on the website of the college you are trying to enroll in and try to analyze the comments. This will hopefully give you a rough idea of how the college or university is or what kind of programs they are offering. If you notice that they are offering degrees easily then it can be a red flag. Try to check for the ranking as well as the reputation of the online college. If they are providing too much flexibility in completing the course then it is likely to be an illegit one.
Pressurizing to pay the enrollment fee and tuition fee
If the online university is asking you to pay the entire tuition fee at once or is forcing you to deposit the enrollment fee then it is a sign that the degree they are offering is illegit. Genuine universities do not ask their students to pay for the entire tuition fee. This is optional and normally students are supposed to pay the tuition fees in easy installments. Some universities take tuition fees per semester while others pay each year but not at once.
If your online college is promising to offer you a quick degree without doing much labor then it is a point worth considering whether you should continue in this college or not. This is true that online degrees are pretty flexible compared to regular college degrees but still to get the degree you need to have the same level of effort. You need to complete your assignments and submit your projects on time.
Regional versus national accreditation
While researching for an online college or university you might need to consider whether the particular institution is offering regional or national accreditation. It is usually seen that employers seem to prefer regional accreditation as it is more rigorous compared to the national one though both of them are valid. You also get a plus point if the college has regional accreditation and that is you can easily transfer your credits from one institution to another having regional accreditation. But if a university is offering you international accreditation then it could be a major red flag that the degree offered by the institution is not a legit one.
11 Signs that show that online degrees is not a legit one
If you are researching for an online college, this process can be very stupendous especially if you have no idea what you are looking for. There are some ways following which you will be able to spot scams. So you need to be alert if you notice any of the following signs in the online college you are applying for.
Not being able to prove accreditation
You need to cross-check all accreditations before signing up for any online college. You also need to understand the fact that a scam college can show any fake agency. So, you need to ensure that its accreditation is legitimate. Now, if you notice that a college says that it is internationally accredited, then you can be sure that something is fishy because no genuine college in the US is internationally accredited. You can easily know about the accreditation status of a university from its website. Normally universities mention their accredited history and status in the “About” section of the official website’s homepage.
Strange or No physical address
Even if a college is fully online, it should have a physical address for its headquarters. If you don’t find out the address and see a P.O. box or some weird address then you need to be cautious. Besides this, it should also have some legitimate contact information. Make sure the college URL has a .edu extension. If not then it’s not a legitimate one.
They are money-minded
If you are forced into paying for the classes which haven’t started yet, it can be a sign that the college is after your money and it is not a legit one.
An illegitimate online college would promise to provide quick degrees. Even if you complete your course at the fastest possible pace, you are not supposed to get a degree so quickly. The process of receiving a degree can never be instantaneous.
No transfer of credits
If you are planning to move to another college or university later, try to check if your future college is accepting credits from the online college you are opting for. If they deny it, it is high time you reconsider your decision.
If you notice that the name of the college sounds very familiar and resembles a university you have heard of, but it looks a bit off, then it’s time to be alert. You are likely to be scammed if the online institution has a name very similar to a reputed college or university. For example, if you see something like Cambridge Technological Online University, this can be a pure scam. It might sound like it is a part of the prestigious Cambridge University or at least has some connection with it.
Easy enrollment process
If you notice that the admission process of the online college looks very simple and easy with minimum requirements and what they are asking for is just your resume and a motivation letter, this could be a red flag. Exceptionally, some online open universities ask for a few documents. Athletes from reputed universities will ask you for a high school transcript for verifying your authenticity as a student. Fake online degree-providing institutes don’t care about these things as their prime goal is to earn money and thus try to scam you by convincing you that you could get the degree easily once you register and pay the fees.
Incentives for New Students
Reputed online colleges and universities do not promise that they will accept your application and never guarantee that all students enrolled will complete their studies and get the degree for sure. Instead, they try to help their students by arranging for student loans. It is a general tendency of fake colleges and universities to provide incentives to students to maximize their sign-up rates. For example, they will promise to pay for your household expenses or pay for your childcare expenses. So fake degrees offering online colleges might even claim that the tuition fees might be hiked soon and if you enroll immediately you will get maximum benefits. These are major red flags.
If your online college has an overseas address then there are chances that the degree they are offering is 100 percent fake. It also indicates that the institution is not accredited at all and thus has no proper authorization to operate in that particular country.
Lack of contact and resource information
If you are not able to find a proper correspondence address of the online college then there is a high chance that the institution is a fake one. Most prestigious and reputed colleges, universities, and even online course providers have proper contact information mentioned on their websites. Apart from this, the resources available for students are also provided on the website. As per US News, legit online colleges, universities, and online degrees providers need to have a proper technical support system, library facilities, and academic advising. If the online institution cannot provide all these things then you can be sure that the degree they are offering is fake.
If the website of your online university has a URL that does not end in .edu then you need to alert that the degree they are offering is a fake one. But some fake universities manage to get an URL ending in .edu and in this case you need to verify other aspects as mentioned above. But if the particular college does not have a URL with a .edu extension then it is likely to be a fake one.
Online degree programs can be valuable and rewarding. But if you do not do proper research and verify the authenticity of the online college or university, then you are likely to fall prey to a big scam. In clear words, you will lose your hard-earned money and will get a fake degree that will be of no use to you at all. Stay cautious but optimistic when you’re combing through accredited online colleges. The more research you do in the beginning, the less likely you are to encounter fraudulent or lower-quality schools.