Monday, February 04, 2008

Online Education: GED vs. Fake High School Diploma

For today's student, distance learning is a worthwhile and affordable way to work toward a GED, usually the most official way for an adult to demonstrate the skills of a high school graduate. But there are a growing number of companies and schools who aren't really in the business of education. Instead, they're in the education business -- their main business is selling quick and easy programs or simple online tests, complete with worthless transcripts and fake diplomas.

There are exceptions. But as a rule most transcripts and diplomas ordered or obtained from online high schools are useless. Unfortunately, students and adult learners are often and easily misled by diploma factories or diploma mills. Many of these companies and 'schools' appear to be professional businesses or accredited educational institutions. So, when selecting online education, it's smart to be cautious. Make sure the online learning solution is a real solution, and will help you achieve your goals.

First, it pays to understand how diploma factories work. Many adult learners fall victim to diploma scams, usually paying $200 to $800 in tuition, testing, transcript or diploma fees. But because the school or program isn’t accredited, the diploma has no value. When it comes to employers, job training programs, tech schools, community colleges and universities, bogus diplomas are useless. And often, new 'graduates' don't learn that a diploma has no value until they're told by an employer or a college admissions department.

In most cases, the GED -- the term for General Education Development credential -- is the official 'diploma' that's meaningful for adults who never completed their high school education. For today's 34 to 38 million adults in the US who never graduated from high school, passing the GED test is a pass key to both career and educational opportunities. That's because approximately 95 percent of employers and even more US colleges and universities accept the GED.

When choosing an education program, a student's best bet is a GED solution, whether enrolling in a local GED class or using a self-guided online GED program. If online learning or distance learning is the solution you need, look for a program that includes all the components necessary to prepare for the GED test.

Here are some guidelines for choosing a quality learning solutions provider and avoiding bogus schools or fake diploma scams:

  • GED guidelines are established by the American Council on Education. Under the agency's rules, the test covers science, social studies, language arts reading and writing, and math -- including algebra, geometry and data analysis. Find a program that includes all testing areas; avoid any solution or school that doesn’t include all test areas or information about test areas and the ACE's requirements.
  • GED practice tests are available online. These tests are a good way for a student to determine skill strengths and weaknesses and to understand how the test works. But the actual GED test cannot be taken online! The test is only given at official test sites. So avoid any company that claims to offer the official GED test or a quick version online.
  • Read the fine print, before you pay -- make sure you understand what the company or school is offering and determine if it's worth the price. Is it a worthwhile learning process or just a fake diploma? Will it help you progress in your career or education? Ask for advice if you're not sure.
  • Look for outside information about companies or schools. Discover what other teachers, students and adult learners have experienced. Contact a department of education. Explore GED and education message boards, online forums or learning communities. Are there complaints, or reports of success?
  • Be very cautious in dealing with any company or online high school that offers a diploma or transcript after passing a quick online test. The GED test is hard! The exam is a timed 7.5-hour test.

Consider education as an important investment -- an investment you make in yourself and your future. Make sure your investment is a good one, and gives you a return that's worthwhile. The GED credential might be harder to get than a $250 diploma, but you can sure count on it to take you to where you want to go.

For more information about the GED online, visit http://www.passGED.com. While products are offered, the website provides plenty of free study, test tips and testing resources, with links to other quality resource and information providers.

Leonard Williams, an e-learning instructor with http://www.passGED.com, is also a curriculum specialist who focuses on research and development, implementation and assessment of best-practice learning solutions for adult learners and people with educational challenges. Leonard's email is LeonardWilliams@passGED.com. He invites feedback and questions from GED students and instructors.

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