Don’t Be Fooled by These 6 Shady Online Event Planning School Tricks!
Ten years ago, there were very few online event planner certification programs out there. And those that gained traction were very credible schools. Today, there are dozens upon dozens of so-called “online event planning schools” that claim to educate aspiring event and wedding planners. They vary widely in price and quality, so it’s more important than ever to do your research, and pick the best online event school to suit your needs.
While you’re conducting your research, look out for these tricks that shady event planning schools will try to pull!
The course is cheap—really cheap!
When you’re comparing accredited event planning schools, the frontrunner is likely your most affordable option. But if you spot a course that’s dirt cheap, something fishy might be going on.
There are a few things you should never skimp on— tattoos, a comfortable mattress, and education! If you’re paying next to nothing for tuition, it’s a tell-tale sign that you’re not getting a quality learning experience.
Tuition costs reflect hours of research and development, not to mention that it makes up the wage your instructors and tutors earn from teaching you. If you’re not paying anything, it means you’ll be getting a bare-bones “course”. You’re better off learning how to plan weddings from WikiHow!
That’s not to say that all event and wedding planning courses are expensive. Going online is way cheaper than any in-person programs. You won’t have to worry about inflated tuition costs to pay for building maintenance or incidental fees. You’ll even save money on transportation—no need to commute to your lectures!
Once you find a couple of programs that you like, compare tuition costs and see if they offer payment plans. Paying monthly will allow you to earn your education without putting you into debt.
Vague information about how their online event planning program works
In order to properly learn event planning online, you need to complete numerous hands-on assignments to supplement the theory. You should expect to work with real-life scenarios and conduct actual research into your local events industry. Essentially, you should be doing everything BUT actually throwing an event.
The key lies in how you’re graded. Are you getting personalized feedback from an expert? They need to tell you if you’re doing something wrong. This is not easy to do, and many shady event schools don’t bother setting up a good learning process for their students. To hide this from prospective students, a lot of schools just don’t talk about the “how it works” part of their online learning process on their website. Sure, they’ll give you generic information like “learn online!” and “watch videos!”, but won’t talk about their tutors, grading system, how students get feedback, etc.
Little to no information about who your instructor & tutors are
A good way for a shady school to make money is to get a celebrity event and wedding planner to record training videos, then sell those videos at a premium, calling it a “course”. Similar to our last point, these shady schools will spend a lot of time praising their “instructor” (the person in the video) but won’t talk about how your assignments will be graded.
Push them to give you an answer (and they’ll do their best to avoid telling you!), and you’ll learn that your assignments will actually be graded by administrative staff who have next-to-no event planning experience. Even worse? When you’re graded by a computer program!
How can you gain a thoughtful, enriching education if you’re evaluated by a robot? Make sure you personally contact a member of the school to ask if the tutor is a professional event planner and how the grading process works before enrolling.
Shady companies have no qualms about making up fake customer reviews. So it’s best to go to a website like a company’s Facebook page to get real, un-doctored reviews. But even on Facebook, you have to be careful. Shady event schools will often create fake student profiles, pay social media users, or have their own employees write phony Facebook reviews to legitimize the school. These can be hard to catch, but here’s what you should look for:
- A large number of reviews all made within a very short timeframe;
- A large number of reviews where the users are all from the same area or work for the same company;
- Reviews that all share the same text, or no text at all;
- A Facebook page with a lot of reviews, but very few active followers
If you suspect a school’s reviews are fake, try reaching out to some of the reviewers. Someone who wrote a fake review (especially if it’s a review from a while ago) is unlikely to ever reply to you, whereas a real student from a credible school will be more likely to reply and give you honest feedback about their student experience.
No one wants to talk to you
The whole point of a shady event planning school is to make as much money as possible, without a whole lot of effort. This means that many of these companies aren’t staffed very well. And will likely spend little effort on student support.
So if you have your doubts about a school, pick up the phone! They should list their regular business hours (which, by the way, should at least be 9-5 Monday to Friday in North America), on their website. If they don’t pick up during business hours, that’s a problem. If you send them an email and you don’t hear back, that’s a problem. And if you ever receive a reply that’s unfriendly, unhelpful, or full of spelling mistakes, etc., it’s a pretty good indication that it’s an overall crappy school!
You may come across event planning courses where you earn a certification… but you have to keep renewing it. This is where you’ll pay them an annual fee in perpetuity just to access their training materials or to keep your certification “valid”. This is bogus! When you attend a college or university, you don’t have to keep paying for your diploma or degree after graduation! Once you’ve earned it, it’s yours!
Don’t get this confused with association fees, though. Joining an association is completely optional, but it can benefit you in the professional industry. Reputable associations such as the International Live Events Association (ILEA) can give you a competitive advantage in your local industry. You’ll gain access to seminars and workshops, exclusive vendors, and networking opportunities with other event professionals. Your association fees go towards organizing these large events—and we think they’re well worth the cost!
Look, it’s unfortunate, but a lot of so-called online event planning schools out there really just want your money and don’t care about your education. Your best defense against these scams is to know what to look for and thoroughly research before enrolling. A good rule of thumb: a credible school will be happy to explain everything to you, show you course samples, put you in touch with their students or graduates, and encourage you to shop around—no exceptions!
What other sneaky tricks have you seen? Let us know!