There seem to be many bogus sites claiming to be 'online colleges'. After reading Sable's post, I starting considering doing an online course of some sort seeing as I'm only working part time right now and I have much free time on my hands. I'd love to do a science course - I'm a bit of a closet science nerd and it would be cool to get into that more.
My initial findings after spending the last few hours researching and googling is truly discouraging and I'm pretty annoyed that instead of finding a bunch of decent college options, all my time was wasted trying to figure out what's real and what's fake. When I started researching I was feeling optimistic, and now I'm just tired and angry from all the trolls I had to filter.
It turns out there's a few tricks you need to know in order to locate actual, legitimate colleges.
First of all, if you just do a search for 'online colleges', you will get a mixture of results, some of which are real, some are fake colleges (probably there to make a quick buck from innocent folks). The real ones are more likely to be .edu domains. There are many fake online colleges that are .com domains. Most universities have .edu domains, so if you find an online college website that is owned or a sub-division of an actual university, then that's good.
Secondly, just because a website has a phone number planted on it, that does not mean it is legitimate. Think about it - how easy is it to get a skype or online 1800 phone number these days? It's very easy for bastard scammers to set up a phone number to mimic professionalism. Legitimate online colleges should have an actual physical address for their head office. Check to see whether the site has a contact us page with an address listed. If the college is affiliated with a university, it may have the university's address listed there.
There many sites that have the words online college in their domain, but they are not a college or educational institution at all. Again, it seems that anyone can purchase a url with these words in them. Some of these sites appear to be mini search engines, where you input your subject area and they provide you with a list of names of colleges. If they are honest sites, they should provide you with a direct link to the college / university. Be wary of any sites that ask you to enter your personal contact details like your address and phone number. The reason I say this is because legitimate accredited colleges don't ask for this information - they provide you with their contact. Here's an example: http://www.ascc.edu/?DivisionID=639&DepartmentID=794
So if a reputable educational institute does not ask you for your private information, any site that does is probably not an accredited site, and it could be a scam.
Well, I'm still looking and deciding on whether I will do an online course. I need to get over the lousiness that I am feeling because of having my time wasted. But I hope this stuff helps someone. Oh yeah, and if you have experience with a good online college, or ones that are scams, let me know!