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Do Your Homework

Research Your Online School Before Enrolling


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A new college graduate expected a reaction when he hung his new M.A. degree over his desk at work. He just didn't expect the reaction he received. He'd invested a considerable amount of time and money to earn his degree, but was disappointed to find that neither his colleagues nor his employers considered it a real degree. The former student felt cheated; but, of course, the “diploma mill” school refused to give him a refund.

Every year, thousands of people are lured into paying tuition for counterfeit schools that don’t have any real authority to grant degrees. Before you choose a school, take the time to do a little research and find out what you can expect from them. If your school has central offices near you, drop by and take a tour. If not, give the school a call and talk to an admissions officer or counselor to get answers to any questions you might have.

After talking to the people at your school, the following research tips can help you find information that the school may not tell you:
  • Ask them to send you a brochure or information packet.

  • Do an About.com or Google search for your school's name.

  • Ask friends and relatives if they have heard of the school.

  • Check out message boards. (While not the most reliable source of information, they may give you an idea of how people view the school.)

  • Try to find other students who may have taken classes or graduated from there.

  • Double check with the Department of Education's database to make sure the school has been upfront about their accreditation.
Once you’ve established that your school is legitimate, take the time to see what else they offer. There are many legitimate online schools that offer compelling curriculum, multimedia components, personalized assistance, and other services. Choosing the school that fits you best will take a little homework, but once you enroll it will be well worth it.
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