What is a Diploma Mill and How Does it Impact Accreditation?
It is fairly well known that a mark of a reputable college, university or other institute of post-secondary education is "accreditation."Accreditation is the formal confirmation by a recognized accrediting agency that the school meets certain standards of quality in the education it purports to provide. The goal of accreditation is to assure prospective students, the public and employers that the education received at this school will appropriately prepare the student for the workplace upon graduation. There are, however, diploma mills that offer to confer degrees, diplomas and certificates that are worth no more than the paper they are printed on.
What is a diploma mill? The purpose of degree and diploma mills is to take money for documents that anyone can print up. The end result of trying to gain proof of education from a diploma mill is that the student is largely untrained and likely unemployable, as well as out of a lot of money. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation has compiled a list of questions that can assist in identifying whether a program or institution is a diploma mill.
1) Can the actual printed degree be purchased, rather than earned by passing courses of study?
2) Does the school claim accreditation, but evidence of that status is not available?
3) Can the validity of the stated accrediting organization be easily verified?
4) How much physical attendance is required of students?
5) How much work or how many credits are required?
6) How quickly is a degree granted?
7) Are degrees granted for “life-experience” or resume review rather than academic work?
8) What are the fees compared to the average costs at other schools or programs? Are they very high? Are they so low that it doesn’t seem to reasonably cover the cost of providing a genuine education?
9) Can the physical address or the campus be located, or does the advertising provide only a post office box?
Those considering a university or training program should check the www.replicamaker.net website of the higher education department in the state where the school is located, to verify that it is legitimate and that the advertised educational experience will actually be obtained. Genuine schools and training programs will readily identify the entity from which they have received accreditation. Additionally, individuals can identify the legitimacy of named accrediting organizations by checking with the United States Department of Education and the higher education department in each of the fifty states. Additional information regarding regional and national accreditation can be found at www.joinitaa.com.
How does a diploma mill impact accreditation? Diploma mills flood the market with under-trained and under-qualified “professionals,” often making it difficult for well-qualified applicants to find satisfactory employment. These “professionals” also foist unqualified services upon the paying public, often to a disastrous end. The reality of diploma mills makes accreditation a highly valuable independent measure of quality.
Many legitimate schools operate without accreditation by recognized bodies, for a variety of reasons which have nothing to do with the quality of the education they provide. For more information regarding diploma mills and their impact on accreditation, please see www.joinitaa.com.