online-degress.jpgOnline universities have been upping the ante on tempting you to sign up for courses, but you need to be cautious.

Lately I’ve noticed an addition to the qualifications section in help wanted ads:

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

An accredited college or university means the educational institution has an official thumbs up. Typically that translates into a state or national body deeming the school worthy of some sort of recognized certification, basically a stamp of approval. One organization most recruiters look to is the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. If your school is recognized by this group, you’re probably OK.

Many of the fly-by-night online degree schools don’t make the cut, and you need to know that before you sign up.

Unscrupulous recruiters at these schools do any thing, even lie, in order to get new students, so if someone at one of these organizations tells you the school’s accredited please do your own research.

I’m particularly angry this morning because the marketing tactics of some online universities are down right sinister.

I’ve been getting emails for a while now from people posing as students trying to become writers, or writers looking for work. They all say they want to write for CareerDiva, and they all have already-written stories about the benefits of online degrees.

The emails come signed by a person, John or Emma, but there’s no signature, phone number, or any information on who these individuals are.

Here’s a sample:

Hi there,

I wanted to follow up with you and make sure you had received my email I sent a little bit ago regarding my research project, Bolster Your Master’s Degree by Learning a Foreign Language (http://www.onlinemastersdegree.com).

I had contacted you initially because I believe the readers on your site would find this informative and valuable. It would be great to have you include a link to the resource somewhere on your site. Do not hesitate to get back to me with any questions!

Thanks, I look forward to working with you! Emma

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people – Eleanor Roosevelt

I emailed back this individual, just as I do for most of these, but got little information about her or the organization she represents.

When I looked up the URL on WhoIs.org, I was not surprised to find there is no information on who owns the site. The “About” section on the site says:

OnlineMastersDegree.com provides information and resources to prospective graduate students. There is a wealth of information on the Internet about continuing your education and going back to school for another degree. We made it simple and collected a library of useful information to provide answers to all your questions. Here you’ll learn about accreditation, specific Master’s programs and data about schools.

It made me wonder if other blogs are actually using this type of fake journalism on their sites. If you guys see stories about online schools on blogs and think they seem bogus, send them to me. CareerDiva@verizon.net.

There’s definitely a growing interest in online degrees among employees and job seekers out there as workers make efforts to enhance their skills and resumes but don’t have the time to go to traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms. More than 3.5 million of you have taken online courses, according to some research.

Advances in technology such as video streaming and instant messaging, and the fact that so many homes have high-speed Internet connections, have made online courses easier than ever to take.

But accept what you read as fact. I know many of you are desperate to find work or change careers, but don’t end up throwing your money away on these subpar universities. A degree from one of these places won’t help you in the end.

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