A NASA systems engineer, a forensic psychologist, and an aerospace contract manager all have one thing in common: their degrees from Alameda University. The problem is that Alameda and Rochville University, both diploma mills, account for at least 2,250 LinkedIn profiles with fake degrees.
Information Technology, a field with a high demand for employees with degrees, is particularly at risk as a target for fake degrees, causing problems for both job seekers and HR departments. A diploma mill allows job seekers to get degrees without coursework, provided they pay the (often exorbitant) fees. Diploma mills advertise heavily, usually pushing the promise of “credit for life experience.” This pitch is especially attractive to people who have the necessary experience, but don’t have the degrees that many companies are now demanding.
Many such “graduates” think they’re getting real degrees from accredited colleges. However, the institutions that back the accreditation are fake. Part of this confusion is that some real universities are now offering life-experience credits to “jump-start” some candidates for undergraduate work. However, a real university requires that an applicant take a competency exam to qualify, and then complete coursework, which takes time and money.
How Job Seekers Can Protect Themselves
Real schools don’t award degrees without coursework. If an institution offers an instant degree for a high price, that’s a bad sign. Diploma mills require little or no coursework–all candidates need is a credit card or bank account. Do your due diligence and proper research to protect yourself.
How Hiring Managers Can Protect Their Companies
Although many companies keep lists of diploma mills on record; often times the mills change names and new players crop up frequently. Recently, police arrested executives of Axact, operating mills under hundreds of names in several countries. (see article)
One simple interview question stymies fake credentials: “Did you graduate?” Often, swamped hiring managers verify only a candidate’s school and the attendance dates. Digging into a school’s accreditation can be time-consuming and is often overlooked. One solution is to work with experienced staffing companies that specialize in doing due diligence for educational fraud.
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