The question that many people ask is, “How do I know if a school I am considering is a diploma mill? Here are some of the warning signs that you should watch for.
- Is the school on the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation list of accredited schools? Checking one or both of these lists is the easiest way for you to determine if the school you are interested in is one that you should seriously consider. If a trustworthy person such as your parents, a guidance counsellor, a professional association, or your employer has recommended a school, then you will not be wondering if it is a diploma mill. If you are wondering, you need to check one of these lists.
- Does the school offer you a degree based completely on life experience? If you find such a school while searching online, leave that website without bothering to waste any more of your time. Legitimate schools do not offer degrees based only on life experience. Some do offer some credit for life experience, but they still require a great deal of information about that life experience and usually also require some proof that you have learned a set amount of knowledge. They will often give you tests or exams or require a learning portfolio and/or give credit for college courses you have completed.
- Does the school send you any degree you want within a very short period of time? A few weeks is not enough time to determine that anyone is qualified to earn any kind of degree, so how would the school determine that you are qualified for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in just a few weeks? If it sounds too good.....
- Is the name of the school very similar to a recognized school? Often a diploma mill will set up their school name to sound extremely similar to a well known school so that people will think that they are actually dealing with that well-known and legitimate school.
- Are the fees charged per degree? Legitimate schools charge students per course or per semester that they study – not per degree that they earn.
It is not really difficult to determine if a school is a diploma mill. There are some cases where a legitimate school has not yet earned accreditation. In such a case, however, the other signs listed will not be present. You will still have to take courses, study them for more than a couple of weeks and pay for each course you take. It is part of your responsibility to research the school you want to attend to make sure it is not one which will cheat you out of your money and out of your education as well. There are plenty of legitimate online schools for you to attend without wasting your time and money on the illegitimate ones.