How to Spot Distance Learning Scams

Studying for a degree online or through a mail order service seems like such a good idea. After all, you are a busy person and taking time off work to drive to a local college can be challenging. While a distance learning college could be far more convenient as well as save you money and time. There is just one problem--deciphering which of the distance learning programs are real or just a scam to take your money.

Check out the school’s accreditation. If it’s not accredited, it’s probably not legitimate. Also, check to see if the school is accredited by an agency recognised by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

If a program is promising you a degree in 30 days or an equally suspicious period of time, it’s probably a scam.

Likewise, if a school says it can offer you a degree based solely on your work and life experience, it’s a scam. Legitimate colleges will give you some credit for your work experience, but they don’t base whole programs on just that.

Review the program testing and admissions requirements. If they don’t ask you for your high school transcripts and the only real requirement is a credit card, be suspicious.

Check out the school's faculty. Did the faculty mostly get their degree from the institution or from other schools not accredited by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation? These are all reasons to be leery. You should also be cautious if the website lists nothing about its faculty.

See if you can talk to a person rather than always go via online forums or e-mail, and whether there is an actual “brick and mortar" address for the program. Most institutions will have an office location or be located at an actual school.

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About the Author

Based in Florida, Nicole Service has been writing for 14 years. Her articles have appeared in a variety of regional newspapers from the Daytona Beach News Journal to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. She holds two Bachelors’ degrees from the University of Florida in journalism and English.

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