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Five Ways to Spot a Fake Degree Granting School

Higher Education Articles November 6, 2012

There are all kinds of colleges, large and small, authentic and fake. You read it right – there are fake colleges out there granting “degrees” and it is important for you to know how to identify them. Experts believe that about two million degrees floating around are fake ones granted by these diploma-mills. The existence of these fake colleges can be ascribed to various reasons: failure to regulate, opportunistic job seekers and irresponsible companies who hire people with questionable credentials. In this article, I will examine five signs that serve to inform us about universities we consider earning a degree from that could be fake.

A College with a Familiar Sounding Name

People who run fake colleges try to confuse students by using names that sound similar to those of famous ones. For instance, Dartmouth College is a respected institution in New Hampshire, but Dartmouth University in Michigan is nothing similar and act more as a diploma mill whose degrees carry no weight in the states, if you are looking for a job.  Similarly, colleges such as “University of Berkeley,” and “Berkeley International University of Southern California” want students to mistake them for the University of California, Berkeley, which is the real McCoy.

Course Duration

The duration of a course tells you whether or not the institution is legit. Some award a degree for a fee without requiring the students to involve themselves in any coursework whatsoever. Others require the students to do some coursework that are much less compared to the amount of coursework required from a legit university. The clue is in the time required to complete the coursework that is often measurable in days and not months or years as you would justifiably expect.

Offer of a Degree for your Life Experience

The third sign of a diploma mill scam is the suggestion of a degree based on a student’s life experience (involving military service or a job), if not, they’re entitled to a bunch of credits for their life experience. For instance, a degree holder from Princeton University or Harvard University with expertise in physic is offered a PhD and have to pay a steep amount of $1,235 for that degree. Similarly, Kennedy-Western University earned a dubious reputation for awarding credits based on students’ “life experience,” after being embroiled in several legal cases, the university rebrand itself as Warren National University in 2009 shortly before its ultimate demise (Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education).

Spam Advertising 

A sure sign that a college or university is a diploma mill is through spam mail from said college advertising its wares. Any pop up ad or unsolicited mail should warn you about the dubious credentials of what is likely to be a diploma mill some of which advertise on the internet, magazines and newspapers.

The School does not have Accreditation

Schools get accredited through a voluntary process where they seek approval from an independent agency as to the quality of education offered by such schools. Even if the school you are considering claims to have accreditation, make it your business to probe into the facts.

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