6 Signs of a Scam School

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Get educated about who will educate you

When searching for an educational program you must verify that it is everything it claims to be. Just because the school operates a snappy website, runs a funny commercial and takes out billboard space around town doesn’t mean that what they’re offering is right for you.

college studentThousands of colleges, universities, trade schools and other enrichment programs are available, but some are outright scams. Sign up for their courses and you could receive an inferior perhaps worthless education and be none the richer for it.

We came up with six warning signs to help you separate the wheat from the chaff, any one of which should give you reason to rule out that program on the spot.

1. Accreditation – An accrediting body should stand behind the school. Colleges and universities are typically accredited regionally or nationally with organizations such as “National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Commission on Accreditation” or the “National Association of Schools of Theatre, Commission on Accreditation” being some of the more notable specialized accrediting agencies. An unaccredited school may have certain standards in place, but if they don’t answer to an independent committee, how can you be sure that you are receiving a quality education?

2. Reputation – While accreditation is important, a school’s reputation can be the clincher. Academia prides itself on reputation, citing grads who have gone on to succeed, alumni support and community involvement. You have to wonder about any school whose program is constantly questioned, bankrolling a team of reputation managers to help control public perception. Higher education PR is important, but some schools appear to be hiding something.

3. Endurance – Any school founded in recent years cannot have built up the accreditation and reputation of a well established school. Conversely, some aged institutions have fallen by the wayside over the years and have shut down. Yet, if all things are equal would you be willing to trust your education to an institution who has been around for many years or to an organization who recently set up shop? As the late tennis legend Arthur Ashe said, “Trust has to be earned, and should come only after the passage of time.”

4. Staffing – Who teaches the classes? Is the school staffed by part-time instructors who hold down other jobs or is the faculty led by professors and other tenured members whose primary work is to educate students? Try getting educational guidance from an instructor who is too busy for office hours or for one on one assistance.

5. Location – This is an important one for online institutions. You may never set foot in a classroom, but the school should have a physical address with a full complement of staff on hand. Though the internet makes working remotely possible, a central office housing computers, school records, financial information and all of the usual college administrative record-keeping is a must. Allowing visitors to stop by, of course, goes without saying.

6. Education – “Get your four-year degree in as little as eighteen months.” “Just two weeks until you are certified.” “For X amount of money you can get your diploma.” If you were to accept these claims on face value, then you’re one step closer to being scammed. There is no way you can rush through school–at least not the kind of school offering a respectable education. Moreover, flat fee charges are just plain weird: per class tuition, books, fees and other costs make this cost impossible to set.

Your Research

While you’re in school you will be researching as never before, but don’t wait until after you enroll to find out all that you can about the program. Verify the school’s accreditation claims before enrolling, contact students currently enrolled as well as recent graduates (the school should be more than happy to provide references) and check with competing institutions. If there is a problem with the school, that information will quickly surface saving you from a possible educational and financial disaster.

Adv. – Are you looking for a school? Off To College has a college search directory featuring colleges, universities, online schools and vocational schools to help you find a program right for you. Keep in mind what you read in this article while searching for any educational program.

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Categories: Education Tips