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Archive for February, 2010

Prison Diploma Mill Nets Profit and Trouble for Inmate

Friday, February 26th, 2010

One Wisconsin inmate had a bright idea for making money. He decided to sell fake college degrees.

The inmate was no stranger to con games and had a long rap sheet for similar crimes. Yet this con turned out to be a surefire way to turn a profit.

So, with the help of co-conspirators outside the prison walls, Kenneth Shong ran a profitable business — a diploma mill called ‘Carlingford University’. And sure enough, Mr. Shong happily discovered that people were eager to buy college degrees they did not earn.

By the time the law caught up with him, for the umpteenth time, Mr. Shong had been in the fake degree business for 2 years. Some of his best customers were fellow inmates; but others on the outside may also have turned over hard-earned cash or checks to receive the professional-looking college diplomas.

It should have been obvious to buyers that this was not the real deal — that ‘Carlingford University’ was not a legitimate accredited online school.

After all, the usual signs were there:

  • there were no classes to attend
  • there were no books to buy, no assignments to complete
  • there were no reputable faculty members
  • the diploma arrived in the mail within a few weeks
  • there was no tuition, just a fee for the diploma
  • customers could choose the type of advanced degrees they would receive
  • the school was not accredited by any reputable accrediting agency and was not listed among the post-secondary institutions approved by the U.S. Department of Education

Yet, surprisingly, people still bought the fake degrees.

Fortunately, the benefits of fake degrees are often short-lived. Those who use them to acquire jobs or job promotions are usually ‘outed’ by co-workers, managers or personnel representatives.

Then they lose those jobs or promotions and are labeled as liars and cheats. Ironically, by the time the deception is discovered, the holder of the fake degree could have earned an accredited online degree. But few take advantage of that option.

Kenneth Shong’s jailhouse operation demonstrates how quickly diploma mills are able to spring up and draw in customers.

So really, it is up to consumers to refuse to take part in the unethical, and often illegal, activity of diploma mills.

Thankfully, in this case, law enforcement officials swooped in and ended the activities of Kennth Shong and ‘Carlingford University’.

But what happens in the future will depend upon the public.

Maybe next time one of these places attempts to reel in customers by claiming to be a legitimate online school, individuals will refuse to bite the hook. Inmates or not, perhaps they will ignore the spam e-mails and slick diploma mill advertising.

Instead, maybe they will actually earn an accredited online degree the honorable, hard-working, long-lasting way.

Then others who come along looking for a fast buck will know that a diploma mill business is not such a bright idea after all.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida

U.S. Employers Accept Online Degrees of Foreign Workers

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Do employers accept online degrees? Will they unequivocally hire individuals with an online bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degree?

The answers to these questions heavily influence those who are considering an online degree program.

An article in The Economist today, A Triumph of Democracy: Should an MBA be open to anyone?, appears to bolster the notion that a rising number of employers favor online degrees, including online MBAs.

According to the article, the acceptance of online degrees by U.S. employers is particularly evident in India.

There, distance-learning is legislated as a valuable and acceptable means to gain additional credentials, training and higher degrees. According to Indian law, employers must accept accredited online degrees in hiring, promotions and pensions.

So what does this have to do with U.S. employers? Well, considering that U.S. companies are outsourcing jobs to India in droves, this is extremely relevant.

A growing number of U.S. businesses have eliminated departments and moved entire companies overseas in order to shift operations to countries, like India, where employers pay a fraction of what they previously paid to American workers.

Yet millions of highly skilled workers in India receive their training and college degrees online. So by shifting operations to these workers, U.S. employers are wholeheartedly accepting online degrees across the board.

In 2004, both Fox News and USA Today predicted that the outsourcing of high-tech and accounting jobs to India (and other nations) would increase significantly over the years. In fact, hundreds of thousands of U.S. tax returns are prepared in India each year through American accounting firms that may or may not divulge this fact to their clients.

Today’s article in The Economist confirms that India has “. . . a huge and diverse distance-learning market.”

Distance-learning continues to dominate higher education in India in order to meet the needs of 230 million potential students who cannot be served by traditional means. As these students graduate with online degrees, they are integrated into the mainstream of new jobs created by an increasing number of U.S. and foreign businesses.

So, is it possible that U.S. companies could so firmly embrace foreign workers who earned online degrees, yet question the validity of accredited online degrees earned by American job applicants?

It seems that this issue would cause quite a stir in the climate of the current job market, especially if employers attempt to use an accredited online degree as an excuse not to hire someone.

Hopefully, such a hypocritical stance is unacceptable to any honest, well-informed employer.

Instead, taking the few minutes to check the validity of online degrees through the U.S. Department of Education, as well as contacting the Admissions & Records departments of the schools in question, appears to be the best route to insure a win-win situation for all.

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Popularity: 6% [?]

Posted by vida

Fewer jobs force applicants to seek additional training

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

There are many excellent reasons to return to school to earn an online degree, professional certificate or other job training.

But a recent New York Times article, Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs, ups the ante by stating that the current competitive job market makes returning to school especially imperative for high school graduates and dropouts.

In 2009, approximately 14,265,000 people lost their jobs according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

This job loss situation could take years to remedy. And in the meantime, the ‘new poor’ struggle to make ends meet while attempting to figure out what to do.

Thankfully, online education has opened up new solutions to job seekers — allowing them to take advantage of online degree programs and job training in schedule-friendly formats.

Already, the BLS has recorded a drop in unemployment from 10% to 9.7% for the month of January 2010. This slowing of job losses is considered to be an indicator of things to come.

Therefore, those who wish to qualify for the new jobs on the horizon should consider enrolling in online schools, online degree programs or online certificates.

In a highly competitive job market, returning to school may be the wisest thing to do.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Determined Winter Olympians and E-learners Go for the Gold

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

The world is watching in awe as the Winter Olympics continue a schedule of competitive games in Vancouver.

Millions of people love this modern-day display of courage, skill, determination and focus as individual contenders and teams go for the gold.

Yet interestingly, there are parallels between the winter Olympians in Vancouver and adult learners who return to school to earn online degrees. These are just a few:

  • The quest for a online degree requires patience, sacrifice, and perseverance over several years — characteristics that are vital in those who prepare for the Olympic trials.
  • E-learners must discipline themselves to primarily study alone, with the guidance of their teacher, just as hopeful Olympians often hone their athletic skills on their own, or with the guidance of just a coach.
  • The completion of required assignments in an accredited online degree program require excellence and diligence in order to move onto the next level of academic classes — just as athletic contenders must practice with excellence and diligence in order to move successfully through Olympic trials before qualifying for the Olympic games.
  • At the end of several years of perseverance and hard work, the payoff is the earning of an online degree for e-learners, while Olympians earn honor and acclaim — and perhaps a gold, silver or bronze medal — for their substantial efforts.

Both e-learners and Olympians choose to make an investment of time and money, far in advance, in order to earn something of value down the road.

But the risks are worth the payoff, in the long run, for those e-learners and Olympians who finally finish the race and receive their coveted and well-deserved prizes.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

California Colleges Embrace Online School as a Solution to Budget Cuts

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Public college administrators in California believe in online education.

In fact, they embrace online education as a solution to offset the detrimental effects of major budget cuts.

Soon, students will be able to enroll in e-learning classes at Kaplan University, a major online school, to fulfill degree requirements for their brick-and-mortar community colleges.

Well-known Kaplan has partnered with the California Community Colleges system to offer students a viable option for completing their associate’s degree.

The partnership gives students a 42% discount on tuition fees at Kaplan when they enroll in individual courses. A significant drop in the availability of vital classes at California junior colleges has frustrated students by increasing the length of time it takes to graduate.

Statewide, college students are experiencing the repercussions of cutbacks in faculty, available courses, and academic programs in the overall college system.

The 23 campuses of California State University (CSU) face similar budget challenges. As a result, students take longer to graduate and many drop out before graduation. The decrease in graduation rates has led the Board of Trustees to announce a graduation initiative, which includes the use of online education to help students earn their diplomas.

Online degree programs and online classes continue to be extremely popular, due to their flexibility. Students are able to study at home or any other place, as long as they have a computer and a suitable Internet connection.

It is, therefore, no mystery that California public colleges have decided to tap online learning as a primary solution for the present and an investment in its success for the future.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

New Study Shows Steep Rise in Online Education

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

A record 4.6 million college students enrolled in online classes in the fall of 2008, according a newly released study by the Sloan Consortium.

The study, “Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009″, found that enrollment in online courses rose by almost 17% from the previous year, while enrollment in the overall higher education population rose by only 1.2%.

More than one in four college and university students now studies online.

Over 2500 colleges and universities took part in this important research, which was a collective effort of the Sloan Consortium, the Babson Survey Research Group, and the College Board.

Part of the growth in online education was attributed to the rise in college enrollments spurred by problems in the economy. It appears that financial ‘hard times’ motivate individuals to return to school to improve their odds of finding suitable employment or job advancement.

For-profit online schools continue to benefit from high demand for accredited online degree programs that inherently offer flexibility and convenience to busy students.

The new Sloan C study confirms what students already know — that online learning is the wave of the future.

And, much to the chagrin of some traditional higher education institutions, it is here to stay.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida