Sunday, January 16, 2011

U.S. Diploma Mills Do Brisk Business in Sand Land

The sad state of higher education in Sand Land has been a recurring theme in several of my posts. I've written about a few of the young people I've interviewed who are unable to apply what they studied at Sand Land's universities and training institutes. But over the past few months, I've increasingly noticed another education-related problem - a problem that appears to be most pronounced in certain quarters of Sand Land's expat community: degrees issued by U.S.-based diploma mills.

I first became aware that people over here were purchasing bogus degrees when Fuckwittery, Inc.'s former HR manager introduced me to "Jake" a candidate who had "done graduate studies in the U.S." The conversation went something like this:

Me: How's it going, Jake?

Jake (shaking head quizzically): I'm sorry. I didn't get you?

Me: How's it going?

Jake (continues to shake head): I can't get what you're saying.

Me (enunciating): How. Is. It. Going.

Jake (looking at me like I'm insane): What is this thing that is going?

Me (shooting the HR manager the "are you f'ing serious?!" evil eye): Don't worry about it, Jake. So where in the U.S. did you study?

Jake (looking at me blankly): I can't make out what you're saying.

Me (trying to talk like a CNN newscaster): Where in the U.S. did you study?

Jake (eyes lighting up): Study?

Me: Yes!

Jake: I studied at Lawrence University.

Me (nodding): Nice. How'd you like those Wisconsin winters?

Jake: What?

Me: Lawrence University is in Wisconsin, is it not?

Jake: don't quite remember where it is.

Me (grabbing his CV from the HR manager): You don't remember which state you lived in?

Jake: It was a few years back.

Me (skimming the CV): You have a Masters of Accounting from Lorenz University? Where in tarnation is that?

Jake (shrugging shoulders): As I told you, it was a few years back. I don't remember.

As soon as I gave Jake the boot, I googled "Lorenz University." After spending roughly four seconds on the website, any marginally intelligent human being will recognize it as a diploma mill. You can "express order" everything from high school diplomas to doctorate degrees (thesis optional). They make idiotic boasts like "One of our prodigies, has been promoted to the post of Divisional Head." They even have a separate website dedicated to proving they're not a scam.

Since running into Jake a few months back, I've now come across 13 resumes listing degrees from Lorenz and many more resumes with credentials from other U.S.-based diploma mills. I know I'm probably preaching to the choir, but come on workers of Sand Land, don't waste your time or money on this crap! These degrees are worth less than the paper they're printed on and any employer with a brain will see through it. It's better to list no education on your resume than to tarnish it with this shit. If you don't believe me, check out the list of cats and dogs who have been awarded "life experience degrees" from these clowns.

And if you're still not convinced, consider my personal investigative research: I filled out an inquiry form on one of these websites for my feline BFF, Sand Cat. Luckily, Sand Cat has a rather sophisticated human-sounding name. I explained that, because she has a speech impediment, Sand Cat preferred that the university deal directly with me as I am her authorized representative.

27 minutes later, I received a call from some redneck claiming to be an "ed-joo-kayshun consultant." As the redneck's dog barked incessantly in the background, I explained that, because of her speech impediment, Sand Cat had never been able to attend school but wanted to know if she qualified for a Bachelor's of Science degree based on the following life experiences:

1. She'd hung out with me while I studied for graduate school entrance exams and was very familiar with my notes. [Sand Cat likes to lay on paper.]

2. She had participated in all of my grad school study groups and project teams. [Sand Cat sat on the group members' laps. When she was feeling frisky, she would swat our pens around my living room while while we worked away.]

3. For the last three years, she's sat in on all my study sessions and attended all my online review courses for a certification that I'm working on. She's much more intimately acquainted with the study materials than I am. [Sand Cat sleeps on my desk while I study and she spends a good 4 to 5 hours a day sleeping directly on the textbooks whereas I have to leave them and go to work.]

Sand Cat BSc, MS

As I stated Sand Cat's case, I started to doubt the redneck would buy it. But quite the opposite:

Redneck: Now, here's tha thang I'm wunderin' 'bout: If yer friend has got all this post gra-joo-wait expeereeunce, why isn't she kunsiderin' gettin' 'er master's at tha same time?

Me: You can do that?

Redneck: Well yes m'am, ya sure can. If yer friend goes an' gets 'er masters at the same time as tha undergra-joo-wait degree, she'll only have to go through tha review process one time. And she only has to pay fer one shippin' charge fer her degree dock-u-ments. If she gets tha bachelor's and then waits on tha master's, she's gonna hafta pay those shippin' fees twice. Thangs start ta add up, ya know.

Me: Ok. I don't think my friend has considered the possibility of earning both her bachelor's and master's at the same time. Let me confer with her and I'll get back to you with her decision.

Redneck: Yeee-ah. Tawk to yer friend because whut I'm suggestin' is tha smarter way.

Me: Ok. Will do. So if she wants to go with your school, we just need to fill out the order form online, describe her life experiences and pay the fees, right?

Redneck: Yes'sum that's rat. Tha education committee will review her qualee-fuh-kashions and if they consider her expeereence suitable she'll get 'er degrees by express mail. Tha degrees'll be signed by Hill-uh-ree Clinton and they'll be embossed with a gold seal.

Me (snorting): Hillary Clinton? The U.S. Secretary of State is signing these degrees? Come on, you just legally changed your name to "Hillary Clinton" didn't you?

Redneck: M'am. Whut I can tell ya is these degrees're all signed by Hill-uh-ree Clinton.

Since my conversation with the redneck, my mobile has received a deluge of text messages (usually around 3:00 a.m. Sand Land Time) addressed to Sand Cat from the diploma mill:

"Act now, Sand Cat! Get 25% Off + Free Shipping!"

"Enroll today and save, Sand Cat!! Fees increase on January 28th!!!!"


  1. I felt so stupid when i read the post.... kidding right???

  2. "Jake (continues to shake head): I can't get what you're saying."

    Oh god...I can picture the scene in my head; hilarious yet disgustingly sad!

  3. AmasE: No, I'm not kidding. I'm sorry to hurt your feelings if you've purchased one of these degrees, but my humble advice is to remove it from your resume at once. You're better off without it. When an employer sees a "degree" from one of these places, they are going to assume you're either: (a) gullible, or (b) dishonest. Most organizations already have too much of both.

  4. No, thank God i don't have one, but i'm attending to take an online Master degree from Liverpool university...
    btw if you don't mind, can i email you??? i need to consult u in something, that's off-course if u don't mind...

  5. AmasE: Online degrees and diploma mills are completely separate entities. I know a few people back home who have earned online degrees from reputable programs. Feel free to email me! :)

  6. My boss landed his job at my employer due to his MBA from University of Halifax, Wyoming. We were a bit puzzled to see his welcome note on the day he started work here. He proudly signs every email with an "MBA" alongside his name. The craziest part is that he is managing some real MBAs (the ones who spent some real time at reputed and legal business schools) in his team. Should I call his bluff or turn a blind eye? What do you suggest? This is a company in Dubai with HQ in France.