Living in the U.S. is unique in the ways of bettering your living situation through higher education. The culture doesn't frown on shifting gears and getting taking on a different career path, even if you are in mid-life. Americans have jumped on this option, especially since the economic conditions have ebbed and flowed from boom to bust in the last few decades. When there is a lull or drop, you'll see folks hitting the books -- and now, logging on.
An new industry of secondary education has been made, almost solely, through a virtual learning landscape. The internet have provided a medium for teaching where students can visit a school site, pay, and start selecting course material. There are legitimate accredited colleges that can maintain this format, but some have proven to be false, misleading or worse, a sham. The following information will be about the phenomenon called "college mills" and what are some of the signs to watch out to avoid them.
Non-Accredited Warning Signs
First and foremost, simply having nationally recognized accredited colleges is the first sign you will want to verify with the school. Accreditation means that the teachings are considered professionally sound by national standards, whereas if a potential employer chose to check on the school they would see that it meets standards accepted across the board with educators and their fellow peer acceptance.
College mills work a grey market of education, where they are never nationally accredited, and may simply issue diplomas or degrees that are built on false endorsements.
Another sign to look for is, are they on the map -- where is the base of operations centrally located? You want to see if they have a base of operations that can at least be visited with staff to help you. It's simply a system of staying transparent enough where there would be no reason to hide the intent of their operation as a business.
Keep in mind that accreditation can be falsified too. If you have any proclaimed accredited colleges that state they are accredited, make sure that they are directly endorsed by legitimate academic institutions. That is, they can be verified with the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Here are some other signs to beware of when researching online schools, or any other telecommuting course offering:
- Look to see if the URL has a .edu designation (although this domain restriction hasn't been policed too stringently until recent)
- Take any schooling outside of the U.S., offering "legitimate" courses, with a grain of salt
- Watch out for pressuring sales, such as offers that say they should be opted now before "tuition rates rise," as an example
DegreeSearch.Org (http://www.degreesearch.org) assists you in finding proper accredited colleges with whom you can achieve a college degree online. DegreeSearch.org also offers helpful information and articles to help you with a career choice. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.