Thursday, December 11, 2008

How can you Spot a fake Online Bachelor Degree?

By Mary Jackson

Along with the growing popularity of obtaining an online Bachelor degrees, many bogus schools have cropped up to cash in, taking advantage of potential students seeking a genuine education to maintain their current level of employment, or achieve specific career goals. Unfortunately, the sales pitch attracts many students who do not possess the time, or the finances, to gain a college education. The main selling points may include easy graduation, no tests or end of semester exams, credit for life experiences, and lower tuition fees. Some diploma mills even have the audacity to make money through bulk emails offering to sell university degrees.

So, how do prospective students determine whether an online college is accredited or only offering bogus online Bachelor degrees? Especially for International students, it can be very difficult to determine a school's validity. In most cases it is impossible for distance learners to visit the campus, so the website is the only point of contact before making the choice and enrolling, which makes it hard to determine credibility.

The first thing to do is to verify the type of accreditation the college claims to have. Only 6 government agencies have been given the authority by the U.S. Department of Education, to award accreditation to colleges and universities offering online Bachelor degrees. Therefore, if a site brags about worldwide or nationwide accreditation, beware. Unless they specifically name the agency, chances are they are not a legitimate institution of higher education.

The six accreditation agencies given the authority to grant college and university accreditation are entrusted with governing the institutions within their geographical section of the United States as follows: New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), North Central Association of Schools and Colleges (NCA), Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges (MSA), Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NWCCU). With specific states for each agency, it is easier to check whether an online learning facility is accredited and registered.

Another important clue to illegitimacy is mass-emails or mail offering degrees for sale. There are cases of online Bachelor degrees, Masters, or even online Doctorate degrees being obtained by a fixed tuition rate. Some bogus colleges even have the audacity to promise a degree in the mail within 7 days. These unethical businesses take advantage of people who must have a degree in order to get a decent job, or keep the one they have in the first place. However, others take big steps to appear above board and genuine. Displaying evidence of accreditation from a bogus website makes the "school" look real. But, unless one of the 6 authorized agencies is mentioned, it may not be an accredited school. In addition, the only way to earn a college degree is by honest hard work and dedication. If a site offers credit for life experiences, travel, work experience, educational background, or even the amount of books read in the past, rest assured it may not be an institute dedicated to qiality, legitimate and excellent learning.

In conclusion, as the awareness on bogus degrees increases amongst prospective employers, degrees obtained through a legitimate avenue of education can sometimes be mistaken for bogus online bachelor degrees too. Therefore, the best approach to select a college would ideally be based on legitimate college accreditation awarded by the appointed authorities to the respective colleges.

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