If you’re an adult who’s considering returning to college, you may be relieved to know you have lots of company. Returning to nursing school can be extremely challenging for many adult students, but thorough preparation can make it easier – and give you much-needed confidence. When exploring your online education options, be sure to verify each online nursing school’s accreditation and avoid the “diploma mills.”
Whether you’re experiencing difficulty finding work, wishing to broaden your skills to become more employable, seeking the satisfaction of earning a college degree, or you have financial goals that require you to advance your education and career opportunities, you’ll be joining countless other adults with the same goals and challenges. With all the effort and money you’ll be investing to earn your BSN or MSN degree, you’ll want to be sure your education is valuable, worthwhile and respected by peers and potential employers. So don’t add to your challenges by enrolling in a non-accredited institution or getting burned by a diploma mill.
What is a Diploma Mill?
Diploma mills are companies that offer degrees, certificates, or diplomas that are considered inauthentic or bogus. These companies often charge a fee and deliver a degree, certificate or diploma that implies completion of education and training, when in fact, little or no education or coursework is required to receive it.
Diploma mills also typically lack accreditation by an accrediting agency. They may operate without state supervision; do not meet the quality standards governing accredited institutions of higher learning; and issue diplomas that are practically worthless.
You may recognize some diploma mills right away; others look more legitimate and are therefore more difficult to spot. Any institution promising diplomas, degrees or certificates extremely quickly, at very low cost, without faculty or program information warrants further investigation.
Beware of Fake Accreditation
Because they cannot pass the evaluation performed by recognized accrediting agencies, diploma mills may claim they are accredited by fake accrediting agencies. Fake accrediting agencies, or accreditation mills, are not included on the U.S. Department of Education’s (USDE) list of recognized accrediting agencies, and they do not conduct the in-depth review of a school’s programs, faculty, and standards of education. In short, they do not ensure students will receive a quality education.
Fake accrediting agencies offer their services to diploma mills for a fee. This type of accreditation may look legitimate, so students should carefully scrutinize the school and accrediting agency before enrolling. Not only will it make a difference in the quality of your education, but earning a degree from a quality institution that is accredited by a recognized regional accrediting agency may boost your hiring potential, as well.
Is College Credit For Life Experience Valuable?
While many legitimate universities and colleges give students academic credit for life and work experience, there are some that offer credit with little or no required documentation. Potential students should thoroughly examine an institution’s:
- Testing Methods: Legitimate educational institutions offering credit for life and work experience use proven methods to determine the number of credits given. These include standardized tests, oral exams, learning portfolios, and professional certifications. Beware of institutions that do not require testing to determine credits awarded. Employers and other educational institutions will often question the legitimacy of credits and degrees earned this way.
- Equivalency: At legitimate institutions, credit is awarded only if the work experience is equivalent to what would have been taught in a college course. Beware of institutions offering credit for work experience without documentation or review.
Returning to School? Be Sure to Avoid Diploma Mills
Adults returning to college or online nursing school have the opportunity to expand their career possibilities, as well as enjoy the self-confidence and satisfaction that comes with earning a degree. If you are considering enrolling in online education, be sure to make the most of your efforts and investment by choosing an institution that has been accredited by an agency recognized by the USDE. Don’t be a victim of the hype and promises offered by diploma mills and accreditation mills!