How Can I be Sure my Online College is not a Diploma Mill?

Every year, millions of students enroll in online colleges and universities to pursue bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees. However, one alarming concern that many students express is whether or not their degree will be awarded from a diploma mill. What is also very concerning is that many students are not even aware of what exactly a diploma mill is. Here is a comprehensive overview of how you can avoid enrolling in a diploma mill and earn a degree from a reputable online college or university.

What is a Diploma Mill?

A diploma mill is an online school that awards degrees to students without requiring any type of real academic achievement from students. Many of these institutions prey upon people who may have dropped out of school, working adults and others looking for a quick and easy way to earn a post-graduate degree. Some diploma mills are clever enough to become accredited solely for the purpose of taking advantage of getting money through student financial aid. Many diploma mills charge exuberant tuition rates knowing that student financial aid will mostly cover these costs.

How can I tell if I am attending a diploma mill?

Before enrolling in any online degree program, it is imperative that you first do your due diligence on the school or university. Try to find any reviews or testimonials from former and current students. Also, do research on faculty members. No professor who worked hard to obtain a doctoral degree from a highly reputable college or university will tarnish their reputation by working at a diploma mill. Most of these so-called online colleges and universities usually recruit professors and instructors who usually just have a master’s degree or a doctoral degree from another diploma mill. How ironic is that!

A good online degree program will also send brochures and other marketing materials to your home to highlight their history, course offerings, degree programs and faculty. Many diploma mills hire inside sales representatives and train them to become admissions or enrollment counselors. This is a sure sign that the school is a diploma mill and is trying to make a serious profit off of enrolling as many students as possible into their programs.

How do I know if a school or college is accredited?

You can easily research online to see if a school or college is accredited. First, thoroughly check the school’s website to see if they state their accreditation credentials. Once you have discovered the school’s credentials, then do through research on the accreditation council or organization. What might be surprising to many is that there are even some accreditation bodies that exist that do not have reputable backgrounds. If you cannot find any accreditation information at all for the school or university or still have doubts about the school’s accreditation status, then the next best thing to do would be to contact the United States Department of Education and the Federal Trade Commission to see if you can find any information on a list of accredited schools. Both of these federal agencies have worked tirelessly over the years to warn students about enrolling in these types of institutions. The Department of Education will have a list of accredited online and traditional brick-and-mortar degree programs.

Obtaining a master’s degree is a very valuable achievement. It is just a tragedy that there are businesses that exist that seek to tarnish the value of obtaining education. If you want your education to be rewarding, then you have to work hard for it. In reality, diploma mills are the antithesis of education.