Ensuring That Your School Is Properly Accredited
Accreditation is a key factor in choosing a degree program. Unfortunately, many diploma mills or shady education scams are aware of this fact, and consequently fake their accreditation. You want to make sure that the proof accreditation a school lists is legitimate, before you decide on a program.
Fake & Useless Accreditation
What are some ways to identify fake or misleading accreditation? Be on the lookout for lists of qualifications that sound overly impressive-a school only needs one legitimate regional or national accreditation to be eligible to receive government financial aid funds or to have its credits recognized by other schools. An overly impressive statement of accreditation may be a sign that a school is trying to pull one over on prospective students.
Other signs of diploma mills are also important to look out for when researching schools; if you see any of these red flags, be doubly sure to investigate a school's accreditation standing:
- The school advertises degrees that can be completed in very short amounts of time.
- The degrees can be earned entirely through life experience or experience credits, and require no additional course work.
- The school's only address is a P.O. box or suite number.
- The school advertises degree "sales" or "deals" to students who enroll in multiple degree programs. (ed.gov)
Check the Department of Education
Whether you're worried that a school may be a diploma mill or not, you've got nothing to lose by double-checking its credentials. In fact, it's quite easy. The first step is to log on to the Department of Education's website, and view its list of regional and national institutional accrediting agencies. Check to see if the school's listed institutional accreditation is from one of these reputable agencies. Alternatively, you can view the Department of Education's list of post-secondary schools with legitimate accreditation.
Check the Accrediting Agency's Website
The next step is to make sure that your school is listed as an accredited institution, on the website of the legitimate accrediting agency. See that the accrediting agency also recognizes the school's credential.
Checking for Programmatic Accreditation or State Board Recognition
Besides institutional accreditation, you may be wondering how you can make sure that your program has legitimate programmatic, professional, or state board accreditation. The easiest way to do this is to go directly to the website of the state agency, professional agency, or accrediting agency in question, to see their list of accredited institutions. If your school is listed, then you're good to go.