~by Stephanie Lynch~
In today’s competitive market, whatever you can do to make yourself more appealing to potential hiring managers could make the difference.
It may be tempting to add more education to your resume, but with the cost of post-secondary education on the rise and resources being stretched so thin, many people look towards taking business courses as a means of refreshing or adding new skills. In fact, some work at home companies may require you take a course before you are even considered.
How can you be sure that the course and company isn’t a scam?
Here are some red flags to look out for before paying for an online business course:
1. Common Grammar and Spelling Errors
If the website is full of errors, avoid it. Pay close attention to the spelling, grammar and website layout. A good website will have a professional feel and tone to it.
2. Sketchy Contact Information
Pay close attention to how the company presents its contact information. Be wary of questionable phone numbers. For example, if the company says they are located in New York, but the phone number is international, be wary. To play it safe, Google the phone number and see if anyone has made a comment on it.
3. School is Not Accredited
If the school lacks accreditation, then taking the classes won’t do you much good or contribute to your resume. Look for schools that have been properly vetted and have accreditation. To find out if the school is accredited by an authority, you can visit the U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation database.
If the school gets bad marks or there are many complaints, chances are pretty good it may be a scam. Always search the school’s name to see what past and present students are saying. Keep in mind that even the best schools will have bad reviews. Try your best to read both sides and make your own judgment at the end. If 99 percent of the reviews are negative, then you may want to look elsewhere.
5. School Cannot Provide Referrals or Testimonials
Any quality school can give you the contact information of a person who can tell you how the school operates, what the expectations are, and what they liked. Avoid any business course offering that can’t be vouched for. Also, be wary of testimonials on the official website. In today’s technology era, it can be extremely easy to pay someone a few dollars to create a fake video.
6. Everything is All About the Money
If the business course is more worried about how, when, and how much they are going to be paid instead of providing you with a satisfactory experience, you may be the target of a scam. Be sure to check out the refund policy and inquire about financial aid. A good school truly cares about your education and will offer you multiple payment options.
7. Privacy and Identity Theft Concerns
If your information doesn’t seem particular secure, chances are it might not be. Never give out personal information if you are unsure it is safe. Always look for “https:” in the search bar to make sure the website is encrypted. If the website lacks this “lock”, it means any information you submit through a form won’t be secure.
8. Syllabus Issues
Check the syllabus thoroughly before enrolling in a class. If there are gaps in it or it doesn’t directly contribute to the purpose of the class, then ask questions. Also, check that the syllabus makes sense at the price point you are being charged. If you’re paying $1,000 for a class that only offers a 30-minute lecture and a small book with 10 pages, is it really going to be worth it?
9. Customer Service
Have a concern about your instructor? Are they accessible to you? Have a billing question? Who can you contact? How long does it take them to respond to your questions and concerns? How do they handle I.T. issues? Is their interface customer friendly and easy to understand? A good school will have customer service available in all realms. This should include a toll-free number, live chat and/or email address. The more accessible they are, the easier it will be for you to ask questions when you have one.
10. Check Your Gut
The old saying goes that if it quacks like a duck, it probably is. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t act until it does.
Stephanie Lynch is from howmuchisit.org, a cost-helping database that helps consumers find out what unknown things cost. In her free time, she enjoys biking, spending time with her family and reading. She currently resides in Gilbert, Arizona.