The internet makes it easy to set up fake online universities operations that scam students. You must be vigilant when evaluating online colleges and universities.
Fake online schools prey on unsuspecting students seeking convenient distance education.
Protect yourself by watching for the following red flags when researching online universities or colleges.
10 Signs of Fake Online Universities
Below outlined are the signs of fake online university or college.
1. Lack of Accreditation
Accreditation provides quality assurance and oversight of academic standards. Fake online universities typically lack accreditation from legitimately recognized regional or national accrediting bodies.
If an online school says it’s “accredited,” verify this. Search the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and U.S. Department of Education databases.
2. No Physical Location
Many sham online schools don’t have a genuine campus or administrative office. They hide behind a website with no valid street address.
Contact info may include just a phone number or email. Without a real location, the school could be concealing its true identity.
3. Fast and Easy Admissions
Fake online colleges make the admissions process super quick and easy to get your money faster.
Beware schools that require little effort to enroll and immediately accept you without verifying qualifications. Legitimate universities have reasonable admission requirements.
4. Limited Contact With Faculty
Quality online programs give you access to faculty. Shady operators may have no working phone numbers or email addresses for supposed professors.
See if you can actually interact with faculty as advertised before enrolling.
5. Unqualified Faculty
Check the credentials of faculty at online universities you’re considering. Fake schools may claim instructors with doctorate degrees that are fabricated or from diploma mills.
See if professors have verified expertise and qualifications to teach their assigned courses.
6. Poor Website Quality
A cheap-looking website with stock images could indicate a fake university created overnight. Research who registered the domain and when.
Assess the entire website for a professional appearance, accurate info, and legitimate links.
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7. Non-Competitive Tuition Rates
Super low tuition rates may signal a university scam. Fake online schools offer deep discounts and deals to quickly accumulate enrollment revenue.
Exceptionally cheap tuition seems too good to be true for a reason.
8. Limited Educational Resources
Real online universities provide extensive libraries, databases, tutoring, advising, and other student services virtually.
Shady operators are unlikely to have invested in such resources. Look for evidence of robust academic and administrative support.
9. Unrecognized Credentials
Find out if an online university’s degrees and credits transfer to or are acknowledged by other schools.
Fake institutions provide credentials that won’t be valued elsewhere. Be wary of getting a diploma no one will respect.
10. Aggressive Marketing
Questionable online colleges rely on aggressive sales and marketing schemes, like incentivized referrals and high-pressure enrollment tactics.
They push hard to get your money before you detect it’s a scam. Let sales pitches raise red flags.
Frequently Asked Questions
Some clear red flags include lack of accreditation, no physical location or address, fast and easy admissions, limited interaction with faculty, unqualified faculty, poor website quality, ultra-low tuition rates, lack of educational resources, unrecognized credentials, and aggressive marketing tactics.
Check the school’s website for accreditation information. Then confirm their accreditation status through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and U.S. Department of Education databases.
Yes, it can be riskier going through foreign online universities. Make sure to verify credentials and accreditation recognized in the U.S. Some fake schools pretend to be based internationally.
Be very cautious of guarantees about getting a job or salary level after earning a degree. Legitimate schools don’t make such promises. Also verify if the school has accurate job placement data.
Not necessarily, but super low tuition can signal a scam. Make sure suspiciously cheap programs still provide quality education, accredited degrees, and recognized credentials before enrolling.
Contact your state attorney general’s office and the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint. You can also notify the U.S. Department of Education Office of the Inspector General.
Earning a degree from an unaccredited university could end up being a big waste of time and money. The degree will be considered illegitimate and invalid for seeking jobs or transferring credits.
With so many legitimate distance learning options today, you can earn an accredited degree online from reputable colleges and universities.
Be vigilant and trust your instincts when evaluating schools. Make sure to verify accreditation, faculty, facilities, costs, transferability of credits, and other important factors before enrolling and paying any application fees.
Do your due diligence to avoid getting duped by degree scams and fake credentials. Approach newly established online universities with extra caution and skepticism before entrusting them with your education.
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