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Education

How Prevalent are Bogus Degrees? 141

Posted by Cliff
from the a-BS-from-Phony-U dept.
Paul Townend asks: "The BBC are reporting that a US government investigation has found that 28 top federal employees possess bogus college degrees (usually based on 'life experience'), and the phenomenon may be much bigger. Have Slashdot readers come across or worked with people with such degrees? Does it give them an advantage? What happens when they're discovered?"
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How Prevalent are Bogus Degrees?

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  • Shows (Score:3, Insightful)

    by u-238 (515248) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:02PM (#9131274) Homepage
    how much the actual acedemic drudgery is truly necessary for doing the job that requires the degree.
    • Re:Shows (Score:1, Insightful)

      by BoomerSooner (308737)
      Bullshit, it shows they are liars and will probably be fired and sued for the overcompensation they received. If they were qualified without the "fake" degree why didn't they apply that way?

      Because you get paid based on your experience and education. It's simple fraud.

      GW isn't a good example of a Yale education either.
      • Re:Shows (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GigsVT (208848) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:08PM (#9131417) Journal
        If they were qualified without the "fake" degree why didn't they apply that way?

        Because a lot of jobs require degrees for no reason.

        I don't see how you can call it "overcompensation".

        If they weren't doing the job they were hired to do, then they should have been fired for poor performance.

        If they were doing the job well enough to command their compensation without getting fired, then that proves the degree is bullshit, by your own argument.
        • Re:Shows (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nelsonal (549144) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @05:02PM (#9132253) Journal
          There is a signficant school of thought that believes that degrees (or any certification for that matter) is a signal to potential employeers that you have the determination to achive something difficult and the training invested in you will not go to waste. The hypothsis is also used to explain why bank signs and facades are quite expensive to produce. Since a sign is emblazened with a company's name it will not carry much use if the bank were to go under. Since the management team was willing to spend so much on a sign, they are capitalized well enough to be around for a while and not go under with your deposits (this was pre FDIC insurance). I think this is the vast majority of the extra value of an prestigous degree (let's face it if you try you can learn plenty from any undergraduate institution). Almost anyone can be trained to do most jobs (engineering, medical, and a few other no mistake jobs excluded) competently. The important part is the expense undertaken by the employeer to train someone. The degree shows that you are willing to endure some discomfort and effort to achive a long term goal. As such they are very, very costly signals, but no one has found a better method of sorting people.
          • Re:Shows (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Henry V .009 (518000)
            There are plenty of methods of sorting people that work better, but they have mostly become illegal in the past 50 years. Race and background are still reasonably good indicators. IQ testing is a tremendous indicator of future job performance -- far better than degrees -- but the Supreme Court made IQ testing for employment illegal 35 years ago.

            What you have to understand is that the "signal to potential employeers that you have the determination to achive something difficult" speech is code. What co
            • There are plenty of methods of sorting people that work better .... Race and background are still reasonably good indicators.

              Social background? Yeah, there's some correlation there.
              Race? Not if the applicants are first matched for education, experience, and/or background. The reason it's no longer a legal criterion is because there are far better indicators available than fading stereotypes... and oh yeah: using race as a hiring criterion is socially corrosive, and individually unfair.

              • Re:Shows (Score:1, Flamebait)

                by Henry V .009 (518000)
                Did black America suddenly turn around and get its shit together while I wasn't looking? But I agree with you on the socially corrosive and individually unfair part. Unfortunately economically effective follows them on the list.
                • Did black America suddenly turn around and get its shit together while I wasn't looking?

                  Yes. Welcome to the late 20th Century. Please keep moving, and you'll catch up with reality pretty soon.

                  • Really? They no longer commit half of America's violent crime (despite making up 10% of the population), no longer have stratospheric rates of out-of-wedlock birth, and no longer represent an out-sized portion of the welfare role? Thanks for clueing me in on that. Amazing news. Where can I subscribe to your newsletter?
                • Re:Shows (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by AlecC (512609)
                  Did black America suddenly turn around and get its shit together while I wasn't looking?

                  Yes. A lot, but not all, did. Social background and education are much more informative than skin colour. If you factor these two terms in, you have already used all the information given by skin colour; if you add skin colour in, you are effectively double counting. And these other measures are more efficient: they allow you to drop white dropouts and bring in brilliant blacks.

                  It is true that if you had no other info
            • "IQ testing is a tremendous indicator of future job performance -- far better than degrees"

              Reference, please? I've read the opposite.

              "It also tells employers that the holder of the diploma is likely have an IQ above some threshold."

              So the indicator indicates that they would probably score higly on another indicator? Not very useful. Seriously, don't you know "smart" people who can't or won't do a rat's hindquarters? I do - plenty!

            • by 4of12 (97621)

              It also tells employers that the holder of the diploma is likely have an IQ above some threshold.

              The IQ threshhold for obtaining a degree from some prestigious institutions is not necessarily as high as you guess from looking at the highest IQs of rejected applicants.

              Some accepted applicants with family money and connections and just spending some time at a high quality private school can obtain entrance with a lower IQ than someone coming from left field, no money, no name, average public high school.

              • Certainly there are people without college degrees who are smarter than many people with college degrees. But as a statistical matter, it generally isn't true.

                "It is not always fair, nor is it always effective, but it's easy and convenient for employers to use to do some initial screening." And that is exactly the truth. What is being used is a crude and wasteful method compared to what is available (i.e. IQ tests).
          • There is a signficant school of thought that believes that degrees (or any certification for that matter) is a signal to potential employeers that you have the determination to achive something difficult and the training invested in you will not go to waste.

            That school of thought is based on the now bygone era when someone who had graduated from college *was* someone who had achieved something difficult and was unusual. Fast forward to the present era when scholarships and grants and loans are commonly a

        • If they were doing the job well enough to command their compensation without getting fired, then that proves the degree is bullshit, by your own argument

          If you really believe that they aren't overcompensated, then feel free to start your own company and hire these people at slightly less than the salaries they were previously getting. "By your own argument", if they weren't overcompensated before, you'll be getting a real bargain now and will be able to outcompete the companies that care about college degr

          • Re:Shows (Score:3, Funny)

            by spectral (158121)
            If they're NOT overcompensated, they're either compensated properly or undercompensated. Thus his new company won't work, because he's paying them less than they deserve. You seem to not understand what he's saying:

            If they do the job good enough for what they're being paid for, even though they don't have a degree, then what's the problem.

            if they're being paid more than their competence should allow, then the company is stupid for paying them that much.
            • I understand what he is saying just fine. And if he were right that companies who care about degrees are doing a poor job of measuring competence then companies that don't would be able to outperform them. And that's not what happens. That's the only point I was trying to make.

              It's all irrelevant anyway because even if they were as competent as the company thought when they hired them and set their salaries (unlikely), they are still liars and the kind of people who lie about something like this are probab
              • And if he were right that companies who care about degrees are doing a poor job of measuring competence then companies that don't would be able to outperform them. And that's not what happens. That's the only point I was trying to make.

                That argument is bogus, because of the perception of value in the degree.

                Those with skills will be more likely to get a degree to ensure they can get a job fitting their skills, whether they wanted to get a degree or not.

                Yes, this means the a lot of the most skilled peopl
                • You call my argument "bogus", but then you don't say anything that disagrees with me. You are primarily saying that "a lot of the most skilled people will have a degree, but the degree itself had nothing to do with it." I agree with this. But I don't see where the problem is. The fact that you've gotten the degree shows that you can work hard and achieve goals and will likely be a good employee. The act of getting the degree serves as a sort of test to show employers that you are competent. Why is this bad?
                  • You aren't understanding anything I'm saying, are you?

                    It's not a sort of test at all. It's something that pretty much anyone with two brain cells to rub together can get. It's bad because it isn't a valid test of anything.

                    Skilled people get it because they think they have to, due to the perceptions of employers. Employers require it because they think it indicates some skill.

                    Do you need me to draw you a Venn diagram?
                    • Skilled people get it because they think they have to, due to the perceptions of employers. Employers require it because they think it indicates some skill.

                      This is true, except that they are both right. It really does affect the perception of the employer, and it really does indicate skill. So, again, what's the problem? Obviously, going to a crappy school isn't going to require much skill, but guess what? That's why degrees from those schools aren't as helpful for getting good jobs or high salaries.

      • Bullshit, it shows they are liars and will probably be fired and sued for the overcompensation they received.

        In Corporatist America, being a liar means that you're better qualified to be a C-level executive.
      • Re:Shows (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kabocox (199019)
        Bullshit, it shows they are liars and will probably be fired and sued for the overcompensation they received. If they were qualified without the "fake" degree why didn't they apply that way?

        You must be new to the US. The way things work are HR writes an impossible requirements page. Recent grads. with no work but lots of classroom experience, put as many buzz words in and get their resume padded that way. People that have been working for 10 years, but don't have anything other than a HS diploma if that j
        • Re:Shows (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cmowire (254489)
          See, there's a difference between "padding your resume with keywords" and a fake degree. One's trying to defeat the keyword filter in an HR system, the other is outright lying.

          The problem with your opinion is that there are some folks who didn't graduate from HS, College, or both who have made millions. Bill Gates is one of them. But, on the average, a dropout isn't going to make as much money as somebody who got the BS. But that doesn't mean that the other 99.9% of folks who didn't "finish their educa
          • Re:Shows (Score:3, Interesting)

            by kabocox (199019)
            But, on the average, a dropout isn't going to make as much money as somebody who got the BS. But that doesn't mean that the other 99.9% of folks who didn't "finish their education" are particularly brilliant.

            My thing is that I graduated with a BS from an state university. Both my brothers barely made it out of HS. Both my brothers make more than me. I know it averages and odd data points. I just hate seeing my brothers do better than me money wise when I was always ahead of them in grades in school.

            Lif
            • Re:Shows (Score:5, Insightful)

              by cmowire (254489) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @06:13PM (#9133062) Homepage
              Don't know what your experience is, but life showed me that you can't quantify people.

              I've seen folks with a BS or even an MS from great schools who couldn't code their way out of a box. I've seen bright folks who had such obnoxious personalities that nobody wants to work with them. I've seen folks with a PhD in random off-the-wall fields with no "useful" degrees who can both code well and manage people. I've seen grads from great schools with no common sense. I've seen folks who didn't graduate and got a plum job and then had problem years down the road when they were trying to find a new job and the market wasn't the same as before so they couldn't. I've torn apart folks in an interview because they didn't know anything about the words they stuffed in their resume. I've seen excellent artists getting in trouble in art schools because they didn't stretch their own canvas or used computers or such things.

              There could be a variety of reasons why your brothers are doing better than you are other than education.
          • So padding your resume with keywords isn't lying? Nonsense! Padding a resume is lying, and if you don't believe that, you're lying to yourself.

            Perhaps you distinguish dishonesty between "outright lies" and the category that resume padding falls into. I guess resume padding is just plain old lies. But then you imply that resume padding is not even lying. The distinction is a self-serving one.

            Resume padding is dishonest. If it wasn't dishonest, it wouldn't need the special name, would it? It's important and
            • I think you are confusing putting something that you have *some* experience on, even if it's not especially substantial (padding), with putting something that you have *no* experience on (lying). But that's OK, because I didn't give an actual definition for "padding".

              What I forgive somewhat is padding, not outright lying. If somebody puts Java on their resume, I'd expect them to at least be able to explain a little bit about it, maybe talking about interfaces, inner classes, etc. Perhaps they screwed ar
          • Perhaps I'm an odd data point, but half-way through college I decided that I wanted to quit my crappy convenience store job that I worked to pay my college tuition. (No student loans or parent's money here, just 40 hours at work and 20 at class.) So I decided to lie on my resume and apply for a job mid-way through the summer term after my second year. I did NOT lie about experience, just my degree which I was honestly pursuing and was getting A marks in to that point. I figured that if it didn't work ou
      • As long as a piece of paper is among the hoops we have to jump through in life, buying that peice of paper from a diploma mill is going to be common. If someone is doing their job well, then where they got their paper credentials should not matter.
    • by Simonetta (207550) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @09:37PM (#9134953)
      I sometimes wonder about the validity of my 'academic' degree in Economics (as opposed to my trade degree in Electronics).

      Most US universities actually offer two Econ degrees: one in the liberal arts college and one in the business college. Generally the arts degree requires upper level language and literature study for a B.A. while the business college requires upper level marketing and accounting classes for a B.S.

      Depending on the university, it is possible to get an Econ degree without writing a single paper in four years. Econ classes (at least the ones that I took) never required undergrads to write papers. For my upper-level arts classes, I ran the university film committee for three semesters. Got college credit and got paid for doing the projection work.

      Generally Econ classes are not difficult if you accept the fact that what you're studying has little grounding in reality. For example, we were taught that high unemployment and high inflation would not happen at the same time, but that was exactly what was happening in the late 1970's when the deficits incurred as a result of losing the Vietnam War and the OPEC oil shocks were working their way through the economy after a few years delay. (Don't look now, but something similar will likely happen again in about five years).

      Anyway, the classes were full of contradictory material, there were no papers due, and no seriously difficult material to master. So is an Economics degree bogus even when it's legit?

      I might add that there is absolutely nothing that you can do with an Econ degree. If you are not making more money from student aid, Pell Grants, scholarships, and subsidized student services than you are paying for tution and opportunity cost of hanging out in Econ classes, then chose another major.
  • by perlchild (582235) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:03PM (#9131312)
    Lots of universities have some kind of system to accreditate "life experience" when relevant, to pre-graduate students. There are also lots of "honorary" doctorates going around. But do degrees as job requirements fulfill their basic tenet: "Only let someone competent do a job?"

    Even with a real degree, I'd certainly have doubts.
    • by foidulus (743482) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:23PM (#9131677)
      Supposedly a degree shows a willingness to challenge oneself and the ability to expand ones mental horizons. Though with the number of "diploma mills" in the US(and elsewhere) parading around as accredited schools, I doubt that is true anymore.
      An education isn't supposed to be a job training program, it's supposed to help you develop the skills needed to tackle any problem. This usually means doing more experimentation and research and less belching up whatever you crammed in last night on a test. Knowing where to look up obscure details is more important than memorizing them(because you will probably forget them anyway) However, that seems to no longer be the case in America's schools, and it is indeed sad.
      Sayonara creative problem solving!
      • by kabocox (199019) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:50PM (#9132073)
        I don't want a doctor that only knows how to expand his mental horizons and creatively problem solve. I want a doctor that can tell me what is wrong and if he determines that there is nothing wrong with me won't just give me drugs to make me happy and go away (otherwise known as creative problem solving.)

        I don't want emergency personnel that have to look up things in the big book what is wrong with me and how to treat it. It may take them 10-15 min. to look it up, but I want them acting on me to save my life in that 10-15 mins not looking up information that they should know!
        • I don't want a doctor that only knows how to expand his mental horizons and creatively problem solve. I want a doctor that can tell me what is wrong and if he determines that there is nothing wrong with me won't just give me drugs to make me happy and go away (otherwise known as creative problem solving.)

          This is an entirely different situation. Medicine is considered a "professional school" (much like law, dentistry, etc.) in which the point is to learn the skills and background needed to do the job and

        • by be951 (772934)
          Apples and oranges. A masters bears little resemblance to an M.D. or nursing degree or even EMT certification. What is the point of comparing the vast majority of professions that can be successfully executed with OJT and minimal other training, with a select few that require highly specific training that can mean the difference between life and death? Besides, nearly all health care providers must be licensed in addition to their educational pedigree.
        • by BrodyVess (455213)
          As an EMT, I just want to make a clarification. We EMTs don't really *treat* anything. We manage conditions until a person is stable enough to get to a hospital for treatment. Belive me, you dont want an EMT to treat you for a broken neck. Put you in a cervical collar and then a full spinal package for transport? Yea, you want that.

          And another good point was raised in that all EMTs have an educational certification, but that's not what allows them to practice. The certification to work is issued by e
      • But above all, the main thing a degree shows is that someone had the time and the money to go through and get the degree. I am 25 years old, and have been working at this current job for 3 years as a network admin, and the past year more and more as a coldfusion coder. Prior to that, I did sysadmin work hourly for local business that couldnt afford a full time IT person. Would you rather hire someone fresh out of school, or someone with 6 years on the job experience that is still young enough to be somew
      • Real World School (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phorm (591458)
        A degree may show a willingness to challenge oneself, but more often it simply shows that you had both the money and time to go to University. I've got my diploma, and I know the contents of the equivilent degree course... while some of the basic problem solving theories and documentation/coding practices were useful, I could have learned them in a 2-4 month course. The rest is all pretty much dogcrap which has been of little use to me in my job, nor have any seen many other jobs where it would prove useful
    • An accredited degree, in theory, has somebody checking up on them to make sure that the life experience is really valid if it's used. Generally most accredited schools will still make you pass tests to make sure that you know the stuff. Otherwise, they lose accreditation and nobody takes them seriously.

      Honarary degrees are similarly interesting. It's usually a given that they require a lot of approval from the various professors, who are snooty enough to not give a degree to just anybody. And also, if
    • Completely agree. Most of the people I meet who have degrees can barely carry on a conversation, much less be an effective employee. Just because you are capable of showing up on time doesn't mean you've learned anything. University curriculum is a joke for the majority of the departments and doesn't get even remotely rigorous until you've entered a graduate program. At least that is what my graduate degree and post doc friends tell me...

      I don't even have an associate's degree, seemed like a big waste of t
      • University curriculum is a joke for the majority of the departments and doesn't get even remotely rigorous until you've entered a graduate program. At least that is what my graduate degree and post doc friends tell me...

        Have you considered the obvious bias they have? I've been through two completely different undergrad programs (I'm a bachelor twice over) and I found plenty of rigor in both of them.

        I don't even have an associate's degree, seemed like a big waste of time for the career I'm in and truthf

        • Hmmm they may have a bias but there are a lot of them. I tend to agree with them but then again they are my friends and I most likely share the bias. To further explain my point:

          Undergrad program curriculum seem to look a lot like a checklist and not a very deep one at that. I always thought that checklists were for Trade Schools, not Universities. So when did University curriculum switch to trade preparation? Are the jobs available so specialized now that even the Undergrads need such single-minded exam
          • Some colleges tend to focus a lot on job preparation, others focus on exposing students to a lot of different things. They pretty much all use checklists, because "take whatever you feel like taking" (especially in the hands of teenagers) is a recipe for a lot of wasted time and money.

            My first bach degree, for example, was based on a checklist that required me to take classes in literature, economics, a foreign language, math, history, psychology, theatre, music, physics, philosophy, phys ed, and religion.

      • University curriculum is a joke for the majority of the departments and doesn't get even remotely rigorous until you've entered a graduate program.

        My personal experience is that after finishing my undergrad degree at a not-too-highly-respected public university, I then applied and got accepted into graduate school at a 'prestigous' private university. I quit after one semester because I found that the material we were covering was farly obviously remedial (even using the same books I'd used in lower-level
  • Call me Dr. $99 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Conesus (148179) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:09PM (#9131426) Homepage
    That's right. You can actually buy a doctorate for only $99 smackers. Amazing, isn't it? To think, that a non-accredited "university" would dish out meaningless degrees.

    Of course, forget about those 'honorary' degrees, or non-accredited but soon-to-be universities such as the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering [olin.edu].

    This story runs into a pet peeve of mine. When people are caught with fake degrees, their employers usually say "Oh, it's okay, we didn't hire him for his education anyway. Just his experience and background." My reply is, did you hire him for his integrity and honesty? Cause you sure didn't get what you paid for. And it's not the foreigners doing it. It's American citizens.

    Conesus

    • Re:Call me Dr. $99 (Score:2, Interesting)

      by LinuxWeenie (614599)
      I work for a defense contractor and we check up on all degrees. I have worked for this company for almost 10 years and yes there has been more than one time that a newly hired person was sent packing for having "faked" his/her degree. We can't afford it in our business - and believe it or not the government checks up on the degrees and their accreditability in some of our contracts.
    • Re:Call me Dr. $99 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by NearlyHeadless (110901) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:35PM (#9131851)
      There's an interesting presentation (8 MB PDF) from George Gollin [uiuc.edu], who researched (mostly on the Internet) these diploma mills. There are a few players who operate under a lot of different names. It's 123 pages, but basically a slide show, so it goes really fast.
    • When people are caught with fake degrees, their employers usually say "Oh, it's okay, we didn't hire him for his education anyway. Just his experience and background.

      I have had an exact opposite experience. I once had an interviewer actually ask me if my degree was from a real school or if it was a diploma-by-mail degree. Now, my school may not be widely known but it is fairly highly respected.
      I did get even, though. About a year later, my current employer asked me to evaluate several products. One of whi
      • Now, my school may not be widely known but it is fairly highly respected.

        How can someone be expected to respect a school they don't know. I don't think the interviewer was trying to be an asshole - he was probably just being thorough. Don't take these sorts of questions personally.

        About a year later, my current employer asked me to evaluate several products. One of which was the company that the asshole worked at. Needless to say, they didn't stand a chance in hell of landing our business.

        I sure hope

        • How can someone be expected to respect a school they don't know.

          I don't know a large oercentage of the schools out there. I could certainly find a way to learn about the interviewees school without asking denigrating questions.

          I sure hope for your current employer's sake the the vendor you chose had a superior product to the one you rejected for personal reasons.

          Maybe it was. I can say that every person that's heard that story now realizes they may have to do business one day with the people they int
          • I could certainly find a way to learn about the interviewees school without asking denigrating questions.

            Well, I 'spose the interviewer could have googled for the school in question before conducting the interview.

            they may have to do business one day with the people they interview.

            Very true. However, in spite of first impressions and all that, I personally don't write someone off until the second time they piss me off. My first dealing with someone may just have been on their off day - and I've had en
    • We had an employee here that was all happy about getting a degree with his life experience. And then I showed him it was from a university in Liberia. He gave up on that and started with University of Phoenix (which I think is just an expensive diploma mill).

      Seriously though, what is a fake degree? Just because they are not accredited? No job posting I have seen says "requires a BS from an accredited university". They just want a degree. If the government doesn't make non accredited universities ille
    • You can actually buy a doctorate for only $99 smackers.

      What a rip off my doctorate won't cost me a penny, although these [epsrc.ac.uk] people have stummed up quite a bit.

  • I'm unimpressed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Otter (3800) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:10PM (#9131451) Journal
    I'd be curious to see this report -- who are these "28 top federal employees"? From that description, I'd expect people one or two notches below Cabinet level jobs, not "including nuclear monitors". If they found a total of 28 white collar workers in the entire US government with sketchy degrees. I'd say the practice isn't too prevalent.

    In any case, if you have a degree from something like that "Capella University" that advertises in banner ads here, it's not like you're reaping huge benefits from it. The biggest is probably in union jobs or whatever where a degree automatically gets you a higher pay scale.

    • Re:I'm unimpressed (Score:5, Informative)

      by michaelggreer (612022) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:18PM (#9131594)
      From the CBS story [cbsnews.com]:

      "Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Abell has a master's from Columbus University, a diploma mill Louisiana shut down. Deputy Assistant Secretary Patricia Walker lists among her degrees, a bachelor's from Pacific Western, a diploma mill banned in Oregon and under investigation in Hawaii"

      These two, at least, are indeed just below cabinet level

    • Re:I'm unimpressed (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In any case, if you have a degree from something like that "Capella University" that advertises in banner ads here, it's not like you're reaping huge benefits from it. The biggest is probably in union jobs or whatever where a degree automatically gets you a higher pay scale.


      Actually, that's incorrect. Of all the students at Capella, the majority are working on their PhD's, second largest group are working on their Majors, then Bachelors, then Undergraduate work.

      I don't know about you - but I don't know
    • I would look closer at sites like Capella. One of the biggest reasons you do not see higher ed advertising more often is because of regionalized marketing. Would a /.'er from Alaska reap the benefits from banner ads from Penn State? Prolly not. Capella, Phoenix, and the like have a national, if not international, base of potential students. I totally dig that they advertise. Being myself interested in adult education, I have looked into Capella. I found them to be strong educators... defnitely the real deal
  • by MerlynEmrys67 (583469) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:11PM (#9131467)
    Shouldn't be a problem if they say they have a degree from Ajax school of blundering idiots, and indeed they do have that degree from Ajax.

    I would be much more concerned with individuals in government that claim to have degrees from the University of Texas (graduating with honors) when in fact they flunked out after their freshman year. ( I know this one happened when said in-duh-vidual came to speak at a commencement at my college and ended up getting exposed ).

    The problem as I see it is that a lot of "automatic" extra money comes along with saying I have an additional degree - there needs to be limits on this "automatic" money, to include things like "from an accredited source". The government is just a bunch of idiots if they accept degrees from non-accredited sources

    • You're absolutely right. Employers are responsible for checking that universities are accredited, and if people are hired without checking the background of a college that nobody has heard of before but by calling up the "university" to make sure they got a degree from there, the problem is with checking accredidation.
  • by SoCalChris (573049) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:14PM (#9131529) Journal
    About a year ago, we found a bunch of an old coworker's newsgroup postings.

    One of them was looking to buy a forged degree from the California State University system. The posting was from a few months before he got the job with us, and of course, when he applied he said he had a degree from Cal State Long Beach.

    All of the others postings of his were personal ads of him looking for someone to kidnap and anally torture him, or for someone to dress up like a super hero in spandex with him. The day we found all of those was the day I laughed the hardest I ever have in my life.

    The guy wasn't well liked to begin with, but all of his old newsgroup postings made it so we couldn't even look at the guy without laughing.
    • So basically what you're implying is that everyone with a fake degree is probably also a dirty sex-pervert. At least he was good for some entertainment at the end of his career.
    • Well... what happened with the coworker?
      • He's still there. The company is afraid of firing him. They think he would sue them for discrimination if they fire him, and basically claim he was fired because of the personals he had placed.

        Luckily, I got out of that company a few weeks after the posts were found. I'm at a much better job now. I've still got friends at the company though.
  • YES. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Neck_of_the_Woods (305788) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:16PM (#9131558) Journal
    Not only did the guy have a bogus degree. He claimed to have a MCSE, CCNA, and RHCE. Retired from the Military with 8 years in as well as 8+ years of Solaris, +2 linux, +4 SQL/MySQL. Turns out when I asked him what to expect from "ps-e | grep sendmail" on our solaris box he kind of just blinked and said "I did more coding on it than anything".

    Turns out he has +3 years of C. Which he can't code in, no solaris exp, no linux exp, no SQL exp, and did not know how to put together a computer from scratch. Let alone, no Certs at all and a bogus degree.

    The kicker? They hired him, then found all this out. Did they fire him? Nope cut his pay in 1/2 and put him in customer service.....I am amazed to this day.

    The justification quote "We could get him for 1/2 of what we pay you."

    Classic, just classic.

  • by foidulus (743482) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:18PM (#9131600)
    He writes a story "fake" degrees in the Michael Parker story(though the degree is real, but the person in question didn't earn it, but used it to get a job anyway)
    Offtopic, but interesting.
  • by RainbearNJ (198510) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:21PM (#9131644)
    But then there are at least a few that do help you do things like CLEP out of classes based on life experience. And they are acredited, like the Thomas Edison State College [tesc.edu] in New Jersey.

    Then again, they're not a "Send us $99 and we'll give you an MBA" type of school, either.
    • Thomas Edison State College is part of New Jersey's state college/university system, and it's all legit and accredited and all that stuff.

      An aunt [osint.org] of mine got a degree (not sure whether it was a bachelor's or a master's) there after a fair amount of work experience. I don't think there's any doubt in anyone's mind (including the state AG she works for) that she's qualified to do the job(s) she does - criminal analysis, anti-fraud, anti-terror, you name it. Honestly, she'd probably be qualified based on

  • I don't know anyone personally who have claimed bogus degrees, but several people I work with flat out made up stuff on their resume. Claiming they know languages they couldn't program in if their life depended on it. Unfortunately the boss either hasn't noticed or is too scared to do something about it.
    • Re:Bogus Resumes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @04:46PM (#9132024) Journal
      I've seen people with real CS degrees who one year out of college couldn't code more than 5 lines in their favorite language. They're most likely to become managers, which ironically pays more than if they had to program.
      • We joke about people with no technical skills becoming managers. But the fact is, management is a different skill. Being a good manager may or may not have anything to do with being a good coder or engineer. Some people can do both, just as some chemical engineers are also good singer/songwriters, but it's not common. Being a good manager requires a basic understanding of the technical tasks at hand, but the real job is -- managing.
    • Claiming they know languages they couldn't program in if their life depended on it.

      At my college, this was fairly common practice. Then again, the software engineering program was rigourous enough, and covered 26 different compilers, that anybody actually *graduating* with a BSET could pick up any computer language in a weekend well enough to debug and in a week well enough to write a text editor.

      Picking up languages after you've scheduled the interview isn't that hard.
  • Sound-alikes schools (Score:3, Informative)

    by breon.halling (235909) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @05:09PM (#9132328)

    Let's not forget degrees form sound-alike schools; such as MIT -- the Miami Institute of Technology.

    And yes, such a place actually exists. I think it's above a convenience store.

  • ...you can get a bogus degree. The University of Cambridge. After you get a BA you wait a few years (that's the 'life experience' bit) and you can then buy an MA. I keep meaning to send them my money to upgrade my BA.
  • by MrIcee (550834) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @06:07PM (#9132988) Homepage
    Way back when, in junior high school (and I'm currently 46 - so Wayyyyyy back when) - my math teacher, a jovial, portly, good natured woman, always had us do assignments that were strangly non-math related.

    Among the projects were memorial things like sticking colored beads to styrofoam spheres with pins (very attractive), drawing, and other things that struck me more as being "arts and craft" than math.

    About two years after I was out of junior high, she was arrested on the basis that her teaching degrees were completely fictious. She was sent to jail for a few years.

    The irony was, that after she got out of jail the city hired her as an accountant. Go figure. And I suck at math and blame it on her (but you should see my beaded styrofoam sphere collection :).

  • Bogus how? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clambake (37702) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @06:37PM (#9133386) Homepage
    I went to one of those real expensive accredited schools, but I was essentially a retard for four years and scraped by just enough to get my piece of paper without a shred of new knowledge (in class, that is... Oh boy did I learn a lot of new extra curricular knowledge) that I didn't already possess when I went in.

    How is my degree more valid than a $99 WalMart degree? Because I paid more money for it?
  • by KevinDumpsCore (127671) on Wednesday May 12, 2004 @07:28PM (#9133922) Homepage

    Check out Wired New's coverage of diploma mills:
    http://www.wired.com/news/school/0,1383,54596,00.h tml [wired.com]

    They note that US colleges should be accredited by either the Department of Education [ed.gov] or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation [chea.org].

  • Anyone who has either worked for or contracted to the government will be able to tell you that the government writes a lot of its contracts and hiring standards based off years of experience and years of degree/school combined.
    In plain english, this means if you ignore veterans preference that someone with only 1 year experience and a bogus Masters degree can be hired in preference over someone with no degree but 5 years experience.
    I know it sounds insane, but keep in mind this is the government and it actu
  • ... because they have a degree! They're too smart to get caught!

  • Yes, you too can have a College Degree [instantdegrees.com] for the low, low price of only $110. Includes diploma, verification by the "college" in case anybody calls, and a copy of the college's accreditation certificate.

    Additional services include transcripts [instantdegrees.com] and "professorships".

    I'd like to see a "transcript".

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