Finding an Online Education Company You Can Trust

Posted on January 22 2012

Online education has become a very popular and useful form of education, but not every company out there is legitimate. The last thing you want is to spend your money, devote your time and energy, and then get a so-called diploma that won’t be accepted anywhere. The company that sold you that piece of paper, is commonly known as a diploma mill. Diploma mills are scam-type companies that sell diplomas essentially for money. They either offer drastically substandard academic work or do not offer any type of academic study at all to get a diploma award. They are not recognized by an official accrediting body and are not acknowledged by colleges, high schools, and employers. They are not recognized as legitimate entities, thus their diplomas are essentially worthless to you.The only thing you will earn from a diploma mill is very real disappointment that can set you back.

Not every unaccredited company is a diploma mill however. Some online high school companies may offer good programs but may be in the process of obtaining official accreditation or do not wish to gain accreditation. All the same, companies that are officially accredited offer a peace of mind. You can rest assured that they are offering effective programs that award legitimate diplomas and that the diplomas will be recognized and accepted by academic institutions and employers.
So how do you know what to look for? How do you know which companies you can trust? There are some warning signs to help you distinguish between legitimate programs and dishonest companies.

  • If the company advertises that you can get your online high school diploma in an unrealistic window of time like 3 weeks, raise your red flag. This scenario is only possible if you literally earned most of your graduation credits already and only need one or two more credits to earn a diploma, which could take about 3 weeks. Most people looking to earn a high school diploma, more than likely need much more credits than that. The company is more than likely offering a scam.
  • If the company does not provide any information about coursework or does not seem to demand much academic study, that’s another signal to look out for –it means you are being promised something for nothing, which, in most circumstances in life, is too good to be true.
  • Another trademark of a diploma mill is that it offers its fees per diploma, which is an indication of illegitimacy. Every student seeking a diploma has different needs; some students have already completed some of high school and so only need a certain amount of credits to finish. Others are seeking a complete and comprehensive program. Earning a diploma therefore, must depend on the amount of credits you earn.Additionally, if a company offers you a price for a diploma that is relatively inexpensive, it is likely not legitimate.
  • If the company does not ask for your transcript or previous academic records, stand guard. Without this information, the company cannot properly ascertain your needs and what services are best suited to your situation.
  • No legitimate and consistent address or no number to call is another sign of fraud. Always make sure the company you are interested in has contact information for you to call with your questions and concerns.

Diploma mills often try various things to appear legitimate. They may find ways to deflect your attention from some of the signs listed above. They may offer special services or ask for pertinent information. A fraudulent company may claim to have accreditation from a bogus accrediting agency. There are diploma mills that openly offer false diplomas for cash, and there are diploma mills that pretend to be real schools. The latter example is the most deceptive and fraudulent because the unknowing student “graduates” from the false program in full belief that he has earned something valuable.

Make sure the company is accredited by a legitimate agency. An easy way to tell the difference between a bogus accrediting agency and legitimate agency is to look on the list of accredited agencies issued by the United States Department of Education. This is one sure step you can take to avoid wasting precious time, energy, and money.The American Academy is an accredited online high school accredited by the Northwest Accreditation Commission, an accrediting agency listed on the federal government’s list.