Saturday, January 10, 2009

Define "scam"

"Do you have a printer to print your diploma?" "Yes." "Then you're accepted!" *Ominous voice* "Feeneckz Online!!"

"A diploma is a piece of paper," like a wedding band is lump of metal. Just so I could start to tell the difference between a diploma mill and a degree program that requires effort, I googled "diploma mill."

Diploma mill Earn Legal Verifiable Diploma From Home. 100% Approval. Ship Fast.

For kicks, I phoned their number to find out what was needed for me to get my PhD immediately. Here's the number in case you'd like to try: 1-866-727-2979 (phone anytime).

After I told the "Rochville University" customer representative that I had a BS and MS in electrical engineering with four years of work experience, he told me I could get a PhD 10-document pack for $599, and it would take about a week for it to arrive. Ten documents! That's like $60 per document! Their website shows you what you get:

  • 1 Original Accredited Degree "Summa Cum Laude"
  • 2 Original Transcripts "I got a B in Business Math!"
  • 1 Award of Excellence "for having completed the Mechanical Engineering project"
  • 1 Certificate of Distinction "outstanding performance in Economics"
  • 1 Certificate of Membership "in the Students' Council"
  • 4 Education Verification Letters "3.61 GPA"
  • and a partridge in a pear tree

I asked him how they determine if I'm qualified for my PhD. He told me to send in a document telling what my degrees and work experience is, and what I've learned on the job. He said someone that had no higher education could get a PhD from Rochville after 15 years of work experience, but someone that has a BS and MS could get one with 3-4 years of work experience.

Apparently they try to convert "life experience" into "credit hours." He said that a year of life experience is 17 credit hours, and a Rochville PhD is 40 credit hours. He said a credit hour is 20 hours of coursework. This doesn't work out, since if I accrue 40 hours of life experience each week for a year, I could obtain two PhDs every year! I'd like to have a PhD in "Keepin' It Real."

He said that I could go to job interviews and present the interviewers my Rochville degree as a credential, and they could call them up and verify that I've taken online courses and passed exams. Wait a minute, courses? Exams? Effort? I told him I didn't know about their online courses and asked him what they're like. After a pause, he told me that online courses were something that they were working on, and maybe they'd be available in some months time. How about exams? He said there are no exams. I then thanked him for the information.

So, I'd call that a diploma mill. And yes, there's been many a muckraker news story covering diploma mills, some involving pet owners that get their cat an MBA, or their dog an AA in canine companionship, but my favorite response to diploma mills is from Here's a couple that emailed 250 professors asking them if Almeda University is a scam, or not a scam. Yes, we all know that peer-reviewing a diploma mill is ludicrous, but might be as entertaining as a Weekend at Bernie's. Only five professors responded, one of which was quite scathing, from a Pf. Lentz at UCLA:

"As a tenured professor of logic and critical thinking at a major university-not a diploma mill such as Almeda "University"-I can only conclude that today's public are so grossly stupid and ill-informed that they are wallowing in their ignorance as they search in vain for an education without actually becoming educated in the classical and legitimate sense."

"Here is my question to complete my answer to this question: Why not attend a real university? Do not tax your feeble minds in attempting to answer my question. I will save you the awful effort of having to think. You are not attending a real university because you are too ignorant, stupid, and ill-equipped mentally to succeed at a real university where professors like me will eat you alive and spit you out.

"So, go get your Almeda degrees. We don't want you fools in our universities anyway. Almeda is actually doing us a favor so that we don't have to suffer through you fools being in our classes actually learning something. We don't have to suffer you trying to scam us. Ultimately, who is the scammer? It's you -- trying to cheat the system by trying to pass off your Almeda paper as if you really learned something. When you get your job with your Almeda degree, your colleagues will eat you alive. I would be surprised if you last more than a week."

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