Although not a new problem, the recent rise of for- profit schools scams (aka diploma mills) is still very troubling. The few gems are being tainted by the abundance of shady organizations. Worst, con artists are targeting those who least can afford to be scammed. They play on people’s dreams and aspirations. Thus international students and those who recently lost their jobs and seeking new careers are especially vulnerable.
When it comes to for- profit schools, it is buyer beware especially in tough economic times. Below are some general tips and advice to avoid being scammed.
- First off, don’t waste your time or money at a non-accredited school. Some useful sites to check if the school is accredited are http://www.chea.org/ & http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/.
- Before making any important decisions like pursuing a degree, do the proper research and be diligent. The beauty of the internet is that information travels fast. A simple search on Google or even Twitter is often enough to tell you whether an institution is legitimate or not. Another good site is http://www.ripoffreport.com.
- When in doubt, ask yourself “Is it too good, to be true”. If it is, it is most likely a scam. Illegitimate schools promise too much too fast. Also do not settle for another school solely because it is cheaper.
- Check the website for contact information (phone number, email, address, etc). Legitimate schools and companies usually would have it clearly displayed.
- The lack of .edu in the website’s address can be another sign of a scam.
- Be skeptical of schools and companies which you didn’t initiate the first contact. Spam is a huge problem and online schools/ degrees are among the most popular subjects. I personally would not bother with pursuing an online degree.
- A lot of the information they give is misleading, confusing or downright lying. Asking the right questions would often expose the scam. Don’t get bullied by aggressive salesmen.
- Sometimes diploma mills would have names that sound similar to prestigious schools.
- Finally don’t give away your personal information until you did all the research and absolutely ready to commit. Identity theft is another huge problem and sometimes the scams are intertwined.
Remember only you have your best interest at heart. Think of the pros or cons of attending any school and don’t commit to anything you feel uncomfortable with.