All too often servicemembers get sidetracked by what appears to be a quick, inexpensive and easy means to a higher degree, says Bob Anderson, education counselor at the Detrick Center for Training and Education Excellence.
"Steer clear of any school that doesn't have proper accreditation," Anderson urges. "It is often after the fact that servicemembers realize they have wasted their time, money and efforts.
"Be a smart consumer, and before you do anything, investigate your academic choices with the counseling professionals at the DCTEE," he said.
Anderson passes along these signs to recognize bogus diploma mill operations.
u The university claims it is a "prestigious unaccredited university." There is no such thing. Accreditation is the highest mark of educational quality. Diploma mills are bogus universities that sell college diplomas--a piece of paper rather than the educational experience.
u The school is accredited but not accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U. S. Department of Education. Visit the Department of Education Web site for a list of all accrediting agencies at www.ed.gov/ admins/finaid/accred/accreditation.
u Admission criteria consists entirely of possessing a credit card. Valid universities admit you through a formal application process that includes official transcripts and a review of your existing academic records.
u You can get an entire degree based on your career or life experience as it equates to college-level learning. No valid university will grant you an entire graduate degree--master's or doctorate-- based solely on a review of such experience. Undergraduate programs are more flexible but they normally limit the amount of credit you can earn from a "portfolio assessment" of your past career/life experience.
u The university promises you a degree within 30 days of paying a certain amount of money. Diploma mills are in the business of selling you that piece of paper.
u You are promised diplomas for a lump sum of cash.This is a sure sign you're dealing with a diploma mill.
u When you call the Better Business Bureau there are several consumer complaints about the "school." Visit the BBB Web site at www.bbb.org.
u The "admission counselor" tells you that online or distance learning universities can't be accredited by a recognized accrediting body. This is untrue.
u The school's Web site either lists no faculty or their faculty attended schools accredited by bogus agencies.
u The distance learning university offers degrees to U. S. citizens but is located in a foreign country, often a tiny island country no one has heard of.
For more information about earning a college degree or taking college courses, visit the DCTEE at 1520 Freedman Dr., or call 301-619-619-2854.--Information from Web site "geteducated. com."