Are Online Colleges a Scam? It Depends on Which Ones.

Given that colleges have become extremely expensive (with no signs of slowing down on the prices), that people have less time to attend them and more and more people are spending time online, one of the ways the market has evolved in this regard to help people receive higher education is by offering not just online courses, but full college degrees to people to study from the the internet.

While they started off with a bad rep, they have actually become quite legitimate and common to use for people across the world. However, with these colleges, fake ones have also surfaced to try and take advantage of the demand and to give people fake degrees for their money. 

Are all online colleges scams? Absolutely not. But are there bad ones? Absolutely yes.

There are 2 parts to this article I want to tackle, the first is knowing if the college you wish to take online courses with is a legitimate, accredited place or not and frankly, the answer is quite simple: 

-Take the name of whichever school you’re interested in signing up for, Google it and see if it’s real or fake.

-Typically any known school in the United States for example that has a good reputation behind it, and offers courses you can take on the internet is legitimate.

-Any school that is accredited (meaning licensed in this case) is legitimate. Here are several.

I always recommend looking at more mainstream names of schools to make your choice, as those tend to be on the safe side, the legitimate ones. Now also depending on whether or not you’re looking to get a diploma via attending both the school physically and taking online courses at the same time OR doing it fully over the internet will also be a huge factor.

Many serious career choices absolutely require that you attend a particular school to receive it. For example, you can’t just become an engineer or a doctor over studying the courses over the internet. So depending on your career choice, the schools you have to choose from will differ. 

  • Determine what your interest/career choice is.
  • Try to find a school near you that’s legitimate.
  • See if it offers classes you can take over the internet to complete a portion of your diploma’s credits.

In 2018, the likelihood of receiving your diploma, via earning a chunk of the required credits over the internet is more and more possible since people just prefer the online option to the physical one and since the incentive of college students (or those going back to school) is to preferably do it from home, colleges see this demand as an opportunity to offer more and more courses that people can take from home and make money from it in the process.

are online colleges scams

Now there’s that second part I was eluding to…

While I am not going to say that you shouldn’t attend a school or earn a diploma, I will say that nowadays, there are far more choices for majors than ever before, and frankly speaking, most of them are useless.

My experience (I have a bachelors in business) has shown me that many academic majors (liberal arts) for example typically do not have a high probability of helping a person find a good job post graduation (or get paid well) and that if you’re looking for that outcome, then you need to pursue something revolving around the ever popular topics (STEM for example). 

One of the key things you need to examine even before you look for a school to attend, never mind if it offers online courses, is a few things:

1) Do you have a passion for the major you chose? 

If the answer is YES but only because it potentially pays well, you may want to think a bit more about it because that’s not passion, that’s passion for money and that may typically have you studying in a field that you will have no love for whatsoever, which ultimately will affect that said career. 

I’ve written about this topic a lot here and I really recommend you read it.

2) If the passion is legitimate, the next step is to find a major/degree which best fits that passion. Aka…

How to find a career you’ll love:

  • Do you love working with cars? Cool, become a mechanic. 
  • Do you like helping people solve health problems? Become a doctor/nurse.
  • Do you like building things? Become an architect, engineer. 
  • Do you like computer games and know a lot about software? Become a software engineer.
  • Are you creating and have made blogs/websites/videos? Become a graphic designer or someone who creates websites.
  • Do you like science? Determine which field you like best (astronomy, biology, physics, quantum physics, ect…) and find a field there.
  • Do you like animals? Become a vet.
  • If you don’t know what to career to find, start with finding your niche passion.
  • Don’t have any particular interest? Perhaps if you’re creative, become a businessman/entrepreneur. That’s what I decided to do (read my story).


Usually this kind of advice is common sense but in my experience, people tend to pick out career choice, again for the monetary possibilities and/or they often disregard their actual passion and try to pick something somewhat related.

The more likely you are to pick a career choice which closely reflects your passion (not broadly, the keyword is closely), the more likely you are to be happy about that choice. That’s what I learned from being a businessman and seeing what makes people both happy and successful at what they do.

You can also make a list of multiple career choices that you love, but as long as they are actual passions. 

Next, find out which career/s pay the most.

Obviously, you want a career you chose to pay you good money. If you have several choices, all passions, figure out which one pays the most and go with that one.

Next, pick out a school that legitimately teaches that career and offers a diploma.

Go to the site above I linked or Google the best schools for whatever career choice you’re looking to get certified at. Ideally try to find something close to you (just in case they don’t offer any online courses).

See if the said school offers an online course (fully or somewhat).

This was your original goal. Look up a list of schools and see which (legitimate) options offer more flexibility (more online courses).

Then finish it up with the chosen school and go forth with your chosen field.

There are examples of online colleges like Tecademics which offer courses on online marketing, but even for those, I still recommend my option, Wealthy Affiliate due to the logistical freedom it has to learn it’s courses anywhere you are located and while there is no accredited diploma that you’d get, this is the program that helped me build an online business.

A third option: Is school still the mandatory route to take?

Again, I am not saying you shouldn’t go to school and get certified, but as long as it’s in a valid field where that diploma of yours will actually pay you good money and not become worthless. In my case it was “worthless” as it was and is in so many other cases, which is why I said before that you should look up the job opportunities in the said career and see how much they pay, and why the safe route is still careers related to STEM and then examine if the cost of time and money spent is worth attending the school and how much it may cost you to pay off the debt you’ll accrue. 

One thing I can tell you is that in many subjects, regardless of a diploma, you can make a business on your own, with your existing knowledge (obviously not in fields like medicine). I know a lot of people who possess great talents, knowledge and skills in fields that they don’t really need extra certification in and if they just went ahead and started their own business, they would have saved themselves a lot of time and money (even though starting a business is still risky today). 

Now me personally, I started an online business where I help people who have determined their passions, make their own online businesses out of it. The beauty of that is that with an internet business, your initial costs are extremely low, which means less risk and more potential return. Learn more.

For example:

  • Someone who is in good shape can create a website business where they give out tips/diet advice.
  • Someone who knows a lot about fixing cars can make an entire website on fixing them and selling services.
  • Someone who is good at psychology can create their own page on helping people out with different psychological issues (therapy too).
  • Someone who knows how to fix computers can start a business and help customers out via their website. 

There is tremendous opportunity and not ever field out there needs that diploma or crazy amount of money spent to receive it. I know I spent a tremendous amount on mine and I have to say, it hasn’t paid me back. Going ahead and starting my own business was what really pushed me forward. If I could have told myself that 15 years ago, I’d have a lot more money saved.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are still very important, prestigious fields that absolutely require you attend a school and get certified, but if you’re looking at an online school, chances are the course/career may not require that and you may already possess the necessary knowledge to move forward with that into creating a website. 

I have been able to do that and all I’m saying is 2 things:

1) Don’t rush so quickly to go to school. Things have changed a lot in the academic field. They are more expensive, less people get that job they love (for various reasons) and they accrue a lot of debt in the process (that’s no secret). 

2) You may already have that knowledge (self certification as I call it). Obviously not in every field, but there are plenty where you may and you could already be starting a cheap business that can turn into something amazing and not know it (ask me below what you’re thinking of and I’ll tell you if it’s good).

3) Let me show you how to create a business out of your passion. Click here to read about 1 program which taught me to do just that. 

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