As the popularity of online school programs rise and increasing numbers of students choose virtual learning options, it is important for educators, parents and students to be aware of the changing landscape of educational programs and the benefits as well as dangers of online learning.
A worthless diploma given to a student enrolled in a fake online school. Photo courtesty of The New York Times.
At CMASAS, our highest priority is serving our current and potential students with integrity and excellence. We're also aware of the unfortunate fact that this is not the case for every virtual school system.
On May 17, the New York Times published a story detailing how a Pakistani company has sold fake diplomas and degrees to thousands of individuals around the world. The story quickly became widely read and is deeply troubling to many educators and students, especially those in the realm of virtual academics. The Pakistani based software company Axact has created at least 370 fake high schools and universities complete with fake websites, sales agents disguised as education counselors, and fictitious accreditation bodies. Thousands of individuals seeking online education have been scammed by Axact-run schools - paying tuition for course work that was never delivered and receiving diplomas that are worthless.
This story raises questions as to the integrity of some online education institutes and warns those seeking virtual education to be careful and ensure the validity of online schools.
In order to educate those seeking an online education, we wanted to share this story with you as well as a few pieces of advice to keep in mind when enrolling in an online school. It is also important to know how to distinguish between fake diploma mills and legitimate online schools.
Warning signs of a fake diploma mill or fictitious school:
- Overly aggressive sales/enrollment counselors
- Vague or inconsistent enrollment fees or tuition costs
- When the customer's calls are taken by a third party call center
- Daily calls from call centers following up from initial inquiry
- Accreditation listed from agencies which are not recognized by the US Dept of Education
A great tool for researching the accreditation of a school is the U.S. Department of Education database of accreditation. Visit their site and database by clicking here.
While it is good to be knowledgeable of warning signs and the realities of erroneous online schools, it is important to remember that great online schools are fueled by technology, not hindered or corrupted by them. Though students and educators of online schools are separated by distance, they can still be connected, interact on personal levels, and use virtual systems as tools to thrive.