The Better Business Bureau suggests you watch for the following features and regard them as red flags when considering whether or not to enroll in a school:

  • Degrees that can be earned in less time than at an accredited postsecondary institution, an example would be earning a Bachelor’s degree in a few months.
  • A list of accrediting agencies that sounds a little too impressive. Often, these schools will list accreditation by organizations that are not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. These schools will also imply official approval by mentioning state registration or licensing.
  • Offers that place unrealistic emphasis on offering college credits for lifetime or real world experience.
  • Tuition paid on a per-degree basis, or discounts for enrolling in multiple degree programs. Accredited institutions charge by credit hours, course, or semester.
  • Little or no interaction with professors.
  • Names that are similar to well known reputable universities.
  • Addresses that are box numbers or suites. That campus may very well be a mail drop box or someone’s attic.

With the increase in the availability of earning degrees online there has been an increase in diploma mills. Diploma mills often use the Internet to market their programs. Diploma mills often promise degrees for a fee in a few short days or months.

Note: Not all online degree programs are diploma mills. Do your homework and research schools that you are interested in attending.

Diploma mills require little, if any, academic work in order to earn a degree. Degrees from diploma mills are sometimes based on life experience alone or a level of academic work that is far below what an accredited postsecondary institution would require. Diploma mills can require little or no work but the result is the same, a degree that has no value and is meaningless.

If you still have doubts, contact your Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office to make sure the school is operating legally in a state and to see if anyone has filed a complaint.

Remember: A bogus degree from a diploma mill is not likely to impress prospective employers and could be a complete waste of money. Today many employers are requiring degrees from legitimately accredited institutions. Federal agencies are being directed by the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to verify the legitimacy of an applicant’s degree(s). According to OPM, “there is no place in Federal employment for degrees or credentials from diploma mills.”

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