November 20, 2018

Diploma Mills and Accreditation

Diploma Mills – What They Are And How To Avoid Them.

Diploma mills are a burgeoning problem that carries with it a negative stigma within the Distance Education industry. By definition, a Diploma Mill is any educational institution that purports to provide a certification or diploma, but does so without the auspices of any type of oversight from an accreditation board. It does so without adhering to any commonly held academic standards, and it does so without putting the student through the rigors of adequate training, testing, or tutelage to ensure the student has thoroughly understood the material being taught.

In layman’s terms, a diploma mill is any for-profit educational institution that gives you a diploma or certificate without really making you work for it. It is deemed as a “short cut”. As a student, you might be able to take this diploma or certificate and use it to seek employment, but in reality you will not have been fully trained with the knowledge and skills necessary to do your job, and therefore you may not be fully qualified for the job. And as a consequence, you may actually end up getting fired from your job as soon as your employers come to realize that you weren’t really as qualified as your diploma claims that you were. This wastes both your time and your employer’s time, and can also hurt your prospects for future employment and career opportunities.

Diploma mills generally appeal to the type of person desperate for an academic qualification or an individual who is looking for a “short cut” to get into the work force. Unfortunately individuals who do manage to secure their credentials from this type of provider are really fooling themselves into a false sense of achievement and setting themselves up for future disappointment in a number of areas.

You will have received a sub-par education. This is most notable with those institutions that claim that you can learn an entire semester’s worth of material in just a few short weeks. Just because you might have been able to read some books, memorize the material, and passed some exams in a short span of time does not mean that you actually have LEARNED and UNDERSTOOD the subject mater. It does not mean that you truly grasped the concepts being taught. The emphasis was more on helping you pass exams than on the actual learning process.

Unfortunately this is one of the problems with many Distance Education Programs or self-paced study courses, but that is not to say that all self-paced or distance learning courses suffer from this problem. The key distinguishing factor that differentiates the diploma mills from veritable academic institutions of higher learning is ACCREDITATION.

For an educational institution to be accredited means that its entire curriculum has been thoroughly vetted and certified by a board or a committee responsible for setting educational standards in a particular field of study. If a particular school is accredited by that agency that means that it meets all of the agency’s guidelines for providing a quality education in that particular field of study.

If a particular degree program lacks proper accreditation, then its ability to provide you with a legitimate diploma is also suspect, it then begs the question whether the degree obtained by such an institution is even worth anything? Some might argue that it is, since the program should be evaluated and judged on its on merit and not necessarily that of a third party accreditation agency.

If a particular school’s educational program cannot pass the guidelines of an accreditation agency, then is that school operating with the legitimate interests of the student’s education in mind? Or is it operating merely as a for-profit scam, doling out paper diplomas as some shady, fly-by-night operation that keeps up the guise of being an “institution for higher learning”, but is in reality providing worthless and possibly fraudulent qualifications.

This is actually a problem when assessing whether the diplomas issued by foreign schools are acceptable or not. Many people who wish to emigrate to western countries such as the United States or to Europe from third world countries might fall into the trap of obtaining a paper degree from a diploma mill, on the hope for being able to seek better economic opportunities overseas.

Unfortunately, far too many students fall victim to these diploma mill scam operations, because the school passes itself off as legitimate. Therefore, unbeknownst to the students, they are being ripped off.

That is why it is important to arm yourself with the knowledge of how to distinguish between a legitimate distance learning / self-paced online school versus a diploma mill.

Some of the telltale signs of a suspect school include:

  • The school’s grading standards are very lenient and are not nearly as stringent as one might expect from a good quality school.
  • The material is merely glossed over and more emphasis is placed on rote memorization and passing exams than on actual learning.
  • The teachers are not readily accessible to students or not knowledgeable about the subjects they are teaching.
  • The pace of the course is rushed such that there is not enough time to reasonably learn and absorb the material.
  • You are unable to verify that this school shows up on the list of any accreditation agencies for that particular locality or that particular field of study.

Choosing a Career Pathway is difficult at the best of times and obtaining the proper qualification is paramount to success in your chosen field. Diploma Mills are a scourge upon society. A diploma must be backed by the hard work that comes with taking the time to master a particular field of study. Otherwise, a diploma that is backed by some “fast track” program that gets you in and out the door quickly, merely for the sake of issuing you a piece of paper, is in fact, worthless to you and your future employer.