Falsifying Education

A resume of very strong manufacturing job seeker came to my attention recently.  The candidate looked great, but I didn’t recognize the school they attended.  I’m not an expert on every school out there, so I use several research tools.  In a few minutes, it was clear this school was not reputable.  First, it’s not accredited, and second it awards degrees without requiring any course work.  Just write a check and they mail a transcript and degree.

With an explosion of educational opportunities, it’s no surprise that a number of diploma mills have cropped up.  If you’re not familiar with diploma mills, they are companies that issue degrees without requiring a single class.  Some go so far as to offer overnight delivery of a degree – someone that didn’t graduate from high school can obtain degrees all the way through to a PhD in a matter of days.

Many of these programs market themselves as life experience degrees – degrees awarded solely based on the life experience of the individual.  The requirements are less than stringent.  Colby Nolan is a cat that received a Bachelor’s degree and an MBA from a diploma mill. Unfortunately, Colby is not alone – there a number of cats, dogs and other animals with degrees.

The job seeker I was assessing had a resume that looked great.  With the complete fabrication of their education, there is no way to trust the job seeker.  Unfortunately, if they are lying about their education, I have to assume they could be lying about everything in their background.

Now it may sound tempting to go from a high school grad to an MBA overnight, but it’s a fraud.  States are cracking down on this, with a number having already passed legislation criminalizing the use of an unaccredited degree to obtain employment (or even a promotion in some cases).  Additionally, the tools to check the validity of a degree are getting better and faster – it’s only takes a minute or two to check.

If you are looking to enhance your education, check the reputation and accreditation of the program.  This isn’t difficult to do, but you do need to know where to look.  The diploma mills often claim accreditation, but from accrediting bodies that either don’t exist or have standards as low as the diploma mills.

There are a lot of resources you can check.  Two that I like are:

Council for Higher Education Accreditation:  www.chea.org
State of Michigan: list of schools the state will not recognize – http://www.michigan.gov/documents/Non-accreditedSchools_78090_7.pdf

I’ve run into a number of job seekers that made the mistake of getting a fake degree.  A few were able to use the degree to get a better job (although the odds of this go down as background checks get easier).  This didn’t help in the long run though.  With the lie, they end up stuck, unable to leave because the lie continues to be uncovered – and very bitter every time they are discovered.