How can you spot a diploma mill university? A diploma mill is an institution offering a degree, diploma, or certificate based on a fee without having to go through requirements for obtaining an education (Higher Education Opportunity Act, 2008). A diploma mill can also consist of having a lack of accreditation. We will discuss the illegitimacy of diploma mills and some for-profit universities who are only after one thing…money!
How to Recognize a Diploma Mill
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2012), there are numerous warning signs given by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). According to BBB, students should be aware of these issues before enrolling in an education program:
• Degrees that can be earned in less time than at an accredited postsecondary institution, an example would be earning a Bachelor’s degree in a few months.
• A list of accrediting agencies that sounds a little too impressive. Often, these schools will list accreditation by organizations that are not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. These schools will also imply official approval by mentioning state registration or licensing.
• Offers that place unrealistic emphasis on offering college credits for lifetime or real world experience.
• Tuition paid on a per-degree basis, or discounts for enrolling in multiple degree programs. Accredited institutions charge by credit hours, course, or semester.
• Little or no interaction with professors.
• Names that are similar to well known reputable universities.
• Addresses that are box numbers or suites. That campus may very well be a mail drop box or someone’s attic.
These elements may apply to one or multiple situations that you may be facing as a current or prospective student (U.S. Department of Education, 2012).
Lack of Accreditation or False Reporting Accreditation
In part one of for-profit colleges, legitimacy of colleges and universities were the benchmark of discovering which schools were worth attending. For-profit schools that lack accreditation or even fabricate the validity of their accreditation should be investigated (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). No current or prospective student, no matter what major of study wants to waste his or her time attending a college that does not hold a solid reputation. Some students may think that a degree is better than no degree. This cannot be further from the truth! It is good to obtain an education by educating yourself about the college and observing successful graduation rates. Also, check Google (google.com) for student and employee reviews about your choice of school.
Recruitment and For-profit Education
Many for-profit universities are into making profits based on student enrollments (Harkin, 2012). Based on Iowa’s Senator Tom Harkin, he discussed the issue of recruitment and marketing practices as a way for for-rpofit colleges and universities to enroll numerous students. These marketing practices are misleading to prospective students (Harkin, n.d.). Harkin also points out that recruitment from these for-profit higher education institutions have used the following tactics in order to enroll prospective students:
1. Pain funnel
Pain Funnel is the idea of enrolling students through their “present” situation. Conversing with the potential student and finding “pain points” like family, unemployment, rejection, and a host of other life experiences whether positive or negative have been used in order to enroll students in school.
Vatterot is another recruiting tool that some for-profit colleges and universities used in order to get the student driven to think on emotion rather than actual reasoning.
In the world of many for-profit colleges and universities, students are expected to make rash decisions about their education than taking time to figure out if college is the right path for their lives. My advice to students is don’t fall prey to educational scams. Take time to research and observe the college or university you will be attending. Investing in your future is of great importance.
Harkin, T. (2012). For-profit Schools Rely On Sophisticated Marketing Operations To Enroll As Many Students As Possible, Giving Rise To Recruiting Practices That Are Overzealous Or Misleading. Retrieved from Tom Harkin: Iowa’s Senator: http://www.harkin.senate.gov/help/forprofitcolleges2.cfm
U.S. Department of Education. (2012). Prepare for My Future: Diploma Mills and Accreditation. Retrieved from U.S Department of Education: http://www2.ed.gov/students/prep/college/diplomamills/diploma-mills.html