Too good to be true — degree scams

Aaron Tam, Opinion Editor

Gaining a degree through online sources has become an increasingly popular choice for those aspiring for higher education. However, just as the demand for online degrees has increased, so have online degree scams, fooling numerous people into a fraudulent education.

Such was the case for the principal of Pittsburgh High School, Dr. Amy Robertson. Uncovered by the journalism students of Pittsburgh High, Robertson was revealed to possess a Ph.D from an online university called Corllins University. Upon further investigation, the university was stated to be located in Stockton, California.

But there is no Corllins University in Stockton.

However, only locals would know that. Instead, most people are fooled by the complexity of the online website as well as the numerous phrases made to legitimize the college. Such people include the board of education responsible for hiring Robertson as a principal.

“I think this is really funny since I live in Stockton and have never even heard of Corllins University in Stockton,” junior Vennis Tinaco said. “But also quite amazing since this fake university along with the fake degree allowed for this person to become a principal at a school.”

What makes this incident even more damaging is that this lie wasn’t exposed by administrators, the district, or the system in general, but simply a team of student journalists.

Such is the case for most online degree scams. Hidden behind a pretty website, some nice quotes and a low price, aspiring students are enticed to opt for this easier option to obtain their degree.

So how can students prevent falling into the grasps of these fraudulent degree scams?

Students should always look for signs of a university that is “too good to be true.” Most of these scams promise the prospect of acquiring a degree “without much time or effort,” but most students should already know that there is no shortcut in education.

However, the best method to protect oneself is to simply call the accrediting agency that “supposedly” accredited the college to confirm its legitimacy.

“I’m planning to get an English degree online, and there are definitely a lot of fake online degrees,” senior Estella Gapasin said. “So I must be careful.”

Regardless, the online learning industry has grown tremendously—it was a 107 billion dollar industry in 2015. With such high margin for profits, colleges nationwide have rushed to create online courses to tap into the growing number of students enrolling online: a number that reached 6.7 million in 2015.

But do remember, these legitimate courses aren’t the only ones trying to tap into a student’s wallet where scams can mislead and rob students of both money and a valued education.