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Archive for the ‘fake degree’ Category

The Berlin Wall and Veterans Day: A Remembrance

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

As the celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall continue in Germany, we once again commemorate the members of our armed forces on Veterans Day.

Almost 50 years ago, the city of Berlin was divided by a formidable wall that remained standing for almost 30 years.

East German soldiers patrolled the east side of the wall; and American, British and French soldiers guarded the west side.

My father was a soldier stationed in Germany in the late 1960’s; so I remember the Berlin Wall.

I will never forget traveling into East Berlin as a ‘military brat’ on holiday with my family. We boarded a bus in West Berlin and arrived at Checkpoint Charlie.

There, our paperwork was checked out by U.S. soldiers; and we were given explicit instructions about what to expect on the trip — and how to conduct ourselves. Then the bus drove into East Berlin.

Just a little past the Berlin Wall, the bus stopped.

When I glanced out of the bus window, I saw a mean-looking, well-trained group of uniformed soldiers march up and surround our bus. A few quickly crawled beneath the bus for an inspection, while others walked around it and visually inspected every nook and cranny.

Then, several of them came onboard; and I was suddenly afraid.

They were not friendly fellows. They did not smile, and they certainly did not make small talk.

Instead, they took each person’s passport and stared intensely at the person, then at the passport picture, and again at the person. When it was my turn, I hoped the cold, penetrating stare would not cause me to make any observable misstep.

But I must have done okay; because the soldier moved on and eventually got off the bus with his comrades.

An East German guide boarded the bus and coolly relayed more instructions. The rest of the trip was interesting and uneventful; though we saw only what they wanted us to see — including the majestic Brandenburg Gate.

We were not allowed to talk with any East German citizens, we could not wander off alone, and our bus could not make any deviations from the scheduled tour.

We went through another thorough inspection of the bus before being allowed to cross back into West Berlin; and it was only then that I noticed the tiny crosses that lined the western side of the Berlin Wall — most with flowers, but all standing out as reminders of those who were shot and killed trying to escape into West Germany.

The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961. By the time it began to fall on November 9th, 1989, it stretched nearly 100 miles and was topped with barbed wire.

Historians should continue to remind us of this and other significant events. Without historians, naysayers would attempt to erase or sugarcoat history, in order to promote their own agendas.

Students who major in history should be proud of that choice. And if they can, they should travel to some of the places where key historical events took place.

If they enroll in online degree programs, it will be easier to travel. But online schools and online classes, though convenient, are just one way to pursue a history degree. Community colleges and traditional universities offer additional options.

The Berlin Wall is now gone, thank goodness, but we should remember those soldiers — past and present — who earned the freedoms that America, western Europe and some other countries continue to enjoy.

Soldiers of the U.S. military deserve our highest respect and gratitude, on Veterans Day and every day of our lives, for their generous actions on our behalf.

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Popularity: 9% [?]

Posted by vida

New Education Benefits Arrive for Post 9/11 Military Veterans

Friday, July 24th, 2009

A brand new group of educational benefits arrive on August 1st, 2009, for military personnel who served a tour of duty after September 11th, 2001.

This financial windfall covers major expenses for post 9/11 soldiers and former soldiers who return to school to pursue a college degree or vocational certificate.

The Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 provides financial aid and support to active-duty military personnel and veterans who enroll in accredited online schools, traditional colleges and universities, and vocational schools.

Students will receive all or a portion of the costs for tuition, housing and books if they meet the selective eligibility criteria.

For eligible military members and veterans, the benefits will cover:

  • Full tuition up to the amount of the most expensive public college in the applicant’s state,
  • $1,000 a year stipend for books & supplies (for veterans only),
  • a monthly housing allowance equal to the basic allowance paid to a military E5 with dependents (for veterans only),
  • Tutorial assistance or up to $2,000 for one licensing or certification test,
  • The option, for some, to transfer these educational benefits to dependents.

Eligibility requirements for the new education benefits apply to those applicants:

  • who are still serving in the military or were honorably discharged after serving at least 90 consecutive active-duty days following 9/11;
  • who were released from active duty into a branch of the military reserves following 90 consecutive days of active duty after 9/11; or
  • who were honorably discharged after 30 consecutive active-duty days following a service-connected disability.

Additional criteria may apply; but students may enroll in military-approved online degrees, online vocational and certificate programs, and traditional college, university and vocational programs.

Costs incurred before August 1st, 2009, are not eligible for these particular benefits.

Benefits remain active for 15 years following the eligible military tour of duty and are payable for up to 36 months for those who meet all of the necessary criteria.

For further information, check out the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

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Popularity: 8% [?]

Posted by vida

Ten Ways to Cruise on the Cheap While Taking Online Classes

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Summer has arrived; and adult learners may be wondering how to take a cheap vacation without skipping a beat in online classes.

Thankfully, the travel industry is happy to oblige by offering great deals on just about everything. Still, cruising may be among the best ways to save money on a vacation while continuing with online degree studies.

For the price of gas, food, a couple of nights in a mid-range hotel and activities, e-learners and their families or friends could sail away on the vacation of a lifetime.

Just check out these facts about cruising to an online degree:

  1. The costs for a 4-day cruise this summer begin as low as $184 per person (before taxes and fees) from Florida, New Orleans or Long Beach, according to today’s 90-day ticker from Vacations to Go, a  website that lists the best cruise deals, especially last-minute bargains. Additional special discounts may apply for past passengers and those over age 55.
  2. Cruise costs cover a bundle – ship transportation to exotic ports, 24-hour food, some beverages, lavish entertainment for adults and children, room service, twice-daily cabin cleaning and more.
  3. For 4 people staying in the same cabin, the 3rd and 4th persons pay just a fraction of the full fare, generally between 40-60% less. This is a kid-friendly deal for families, but also works well for family gatherings, friends and co-workers.
  4. Onboard credits are free money that is offered by travel agents, credit card companies or the cruise line. These are valuable because they are applied to the onboard account and may cover tipping fees, excursions, alcoholic drinks, shopping or other additional costs. A good travel agent can help explore this option.
  5. Most ports can be explored without purchasing expensive excursions from the ship. A good guide book from the library can give excellent tips about saving money while seeing the sights on your own.
  6. Most ships offer onboard Internet cafes and designated public WiFi hotspots. Some ships, like the new Celebrity Solstice series, offer data ports for Internet access in individual cabins, which is great for online students. Some Princess ships offer the use of individual laptops for the duration of the cruise on a first-come, first served basis. Discounted Internet plans offer cheaper rates then paying by the minute.
  7. To save money on Internet rates, online students may opt to gather web research ahead of time. Then on the ship, they can work offline and connect to the Internet only to turn in assignments or email instructors.
  8. Tipping is generally not mandatory on the ship; although there are suggested amounts per day to cover cabin stewards, waiters, head waiters, and other staff. Even when the tipping fees are automatically deducted from the onboard account, passengers may raise or lower the tipping amount at their own discretion. However, after observing how diligently the staff works on their behalf, the suggested tips — totaling about $10 per adult passenger per day — often appear to be reasonable to most cruisers.
  9. The 3,634-passenger ship, Independence of the Seas, not only provides extensive Internet access, it also offers rock-climbing, a water park, a surf park, ice skating, youth clubs, a full-size boxing ring and sports court, miniature golf, a fitness center, a casino, shopping — plus a multitude of other diversions for those who need extra study time to devote to online classes while family or friends literally dive into the fun onboard.
  10. Retirees, homeschooling families and others may find deeper discounts in the fall and winter, as vacationers return to school and jobs. And most cruises that are more than 90 days off usually require only a modest down payment, with the balance due at a later date. Also, bargains extend to world cruises and, amazingly, an online student could travel the world by sea while earning an online degree.

Of course, it is important to ask questions during booking about cancellation policies, passport requirements, taxes, port fees, the minimum travel age for an infant, and what is covered or not covered in cruise fees.

Still, cruising is a wonderful opportunity for online degree students to enjoy a vacation and stay on track with online school, In fact, it may be the perfect way to enhance one’s career while making loved ones happy.

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Popularity: 12% [?]

Posted by vida

Diploma Mill Purchase is Wrong Turn for Any Career

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

The recent turmoil in a New Jersey school district over the purchase of bogus doctoral degrees by three top administrators has angered taxpayers and embarrassed those at the center of the conflict.

But buying fake college degrees is a wrong turn for any career.

In other words, a diploma mill degree may appear to be a career maker in the beginning — by opening doors to a job, a promotion or a raise. However, it often later transforms into a career breaker when the revelation of the fake degree causes the career to unravel.

The three administrators of the Freehold Regional School District purchased their fake degrees using taxpayer money, which has led New Jersey lawmakers to propose a ban on such practices.

But why does anyone risk using a diploma mill diploma to acquire a job or promotion? And why are diploma mills thriving to the tune of over $200 million a year?

There are several reasons why people purchase fake online degrees (also known as life experience degrees); but none of those reasons are honest or honorable. A few reasons include:

  • “It takes too long to earn a real college degree.”
  • “I don’t have what it takes to make it through an accredited online degree program.”
  • “My long years of experience add up to a college degree; so I’ll buy a diploma to prove it.”
  • “I didn’t know that paying a fee to receive my college degree without taking any classes was wrong.”
  • “I bought this “novelty degree” as a joke; but people thought it was real. So I tried it out on a job application.”

There is a perception that being dishonest about one’s educational qualifications carries a low risk. However, the opposite is true. Getting caught is becoming the rule more than the exception. For example:

  • Over 9,000 names of fake degree buyers were publicly released following the Steve and Dixie Randock diploma mill case in Seattle. The list led to a number of investigations into employees across the U.S.; and some were fired or demoted over falsified credentials.
  • The Internet now makes it easier for employers to discover fake degrees. Websites for the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation are simple to access and maintain databases of the accredited colleges and universities in the U.S.
  • Even though employers may not check up on employees entering low-level jobs, they are likely to check into the backgrounds of current employees or applicants who may be given access to sensitive company information.
  • Reputable colleges and universities are eager to help employers verify the college degrees of their workers; since counterfeit degrees bearing the names of these schools have become big business as well.
  • A questionable credential is often discovered by inquisitive, jealous or suspicious co-workers.

Wise career climbers won’t make this kind of wrong turn into the world of diploma mills. Instead, they will earn an accredited college degree.

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Popularity: 9% [?]

Posted by vida

Teacher, Candidate Under Fire for Questionable College Degrees

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

A Wylie teacher and a Lake Elsinore city council candidate are in the same boat. Both are under fire for claiming unaccredited online degrees among their credentials.

In Wylie, Texas, teacher and city councilman Merrill Young has resigned from his job as a teacher in the Wylie Independent School Districe amidst allegations of fraud relating to his education credentials.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) revoked his teaching certificate when Young appeared on a list of fake degree buyers ’outed’ following a recent and heavily-publicized Seattle diploma mill case. In that case, over $7 million was earned by owners of the illegal business for churning out fake college diplomas.

Young reportedly paid $100 for a fake bachelor’s degree in business administration from Concordia College & University. Concordia boldly states on its website that its college diplomas can be mailed out in as little as 2 weeks following a credit card payment – with no college work required.

The Texas Education Agency considers Concordia College & University to be an unaccredited institution whose fake college degrees cannot be used in Texas to obtain a job, promotion or pay raise. The TEA continues to investigate the case.

In Lake Elsinore, Californa, city council candidate Amy Marie Bhutta is dodging allegations that her doctoral degree is unaccredited.

Bhutta, who is a high school teacher, earned legitimate bachelor’s and master’s degrees from accredited universities; and a doctoral degree was not required for her teaching job. However, during the course of her campaign for a city council spot, opponents raised questions about the source of the ’Ph.D.’ designation that Bhutta so prominently and proudly displayed next to her name.

The online doctorate, received from City University Los Angeles (CULA) in 2003, is in question because it is not accredited by any of the major national or regional accrediting bodies. CULA may not belong in the category of fraudulent diploma mills; however, the school has not met the stringent requirements of accrediting agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Both cases, Young’s and Bhutta’s, illustrate the likelihood of fake or unaccredited degrees eventually coming to light. Young claims he did not know that his online degree was a phony. Bhutta says CULA required mounds of college-level work, including a doctoral dissertation; but that she cannot remain supportive of the school, due to problems with its accrediting agency.

The lesson in all of this is that potential students should carefully check out any traditional colleges or online schools they are seriously considering as possibilities for enrollment. The U.S. Department of Education has information on accreditation, a listing of reputable accrediting bodies, and a database of all accredited U.S. colleges and universities. But as consumers, students should not forget to heed the caveat, ’Buyer Beware’.

Merrill Young now works for the Wylie ISD as an instructional special education aide while his case is being investigated; and Amy Bhutta continues on the campaign trail, sans the Ph.D. behind her name.

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Popularity: 15% [?]

Posted by vida

New Jersey Fake Degree Case May Lead to New Restrictions

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

Diploma mill abuses in a New Jersey school district may lead to tighter restrictions on the use of fake or unaccredited degrees.

In a recent New Jersey case, three administrators in the Freehold Regional High School District used tax dollars to purchase fake doctoral degrees from Breyer State University, a now-defunct Alabama-based diploma mill. Those ill-gotten advanced degrees garnered substantial pay raises for the three state employees over the past couple of years.

New Jersey taxpayers criticized the wasteful spending of the school officials. Yet the New Jersey Education Department ultimately found no criminal wrongdoing by the administrators; because no law was in place at the time prohibiting the use of fake degrees.

But N.J. state regulations are currently being tightened to prevent similar college degree abuses. In the future, the use of fake degrees should be prohibited in the Freehold Regional High School District as a means of obtaining employment, a pay raise or a promotion.

Diploma mill cases have become more prominent in the news since the release of tens of thousands of names of fake degree purchasers following a high-profile Washington case. Dixie and Stephen Randock, of Washington, were convicted along with their daughter and several others following a lengthy investigation headed by the FBI. The Randocks raked in over $7 million operating their illegal business.

Following publication of ‘the list’, many of those named were fired, demoted, reprimanded or investigated. New federal legislation continues to move forward in Congress to further strengthen legal avenues of action toward those who sell fake degrees or those who use diploma mills to obtain employment or job promotions.

Fake college degrees are particularly harmful when they are used to secure jobs in the health or medical fields, aviation, counseling, engineering, and homeland security.

Potential college and university students should thoroughly check out both the traditional and online schools in which they are interested. It is important to utilize the resources like the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in order to insure the choice of an accredited online degree or on-campus degree.

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Hopefully, New Jersey taxpayers will soon be able to trust that education expenditures for fraudulent college degrees are a thing of the past. 

Popularity: 20% [?]

Posted by vida

Release of Names in Fake Degree Case is Tip of the Iceberg

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

The release of over 9,000 names this week in the well-publicized Washington diploma mill case was like dropping a stone in the middle of a lake.

The ripples have extended all over the U.S. and into international waters as well.

According to recent news reports, the long list of fake degree purchasers is being forwarded to the state attorney generals of all 50 states so that investigations may continue. They especially want to focus on those who may have compromised the safety of the general public by using fake college degrees to obtain jobs or promotions.

Others on the diploma mill list may also lose their jobs due to the seriousness of listing fraudulent information on their job application.

But hopefully, there has been a lesson in this for those who are contemplating taking a dishonest step to obtain a bogus college degree: Don’t do it. It isn’t worth it in the long run.

For awhile, perhaps no one will be the wiser. But one day, most likely when all is going well, everything will topple as the dark, past deed comes to light.

If you really want  a college degree, find an accredited online degree program and do the work. Take the classes, burn the midnight oil and earn the college degree through diligence and discipled study.

Then, when you receive your college diploma, it will mean something. And no one will be able to take it away from you; because you will truly own it.

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Popularity: 9% [?]

Posted by vida

Yale University Entangled in South Korea’s Fake Degree Scandal

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Yale University was hit by a $50 million lawsuit from a top South Korean university for reportedly erroneously confirming that an art history professor earned a Ph.D. there. 

This is an unexpected twist in the ongoing fake college degree scandal and the ensuing police investigations that have recently plagued South Korea’s education system. 

Two previous blogs, South Korea Battles Fallout from Fake Diploma Scandals and  Military Officers Involved in South Korea Diploma Mill Scandal give an overall view of what has been happening.

But following is a compilation of specifics that relate to the Yale lawsuit:

  • Shin Jeong-ah, 36, falsified the college degrees on her job application and was hired as an art professor by highly-regarded Dongguk University after they reportedly confirmed with Yale’s grad school associate dean that Jeong-ah’s Ph.D. was legitimate.  
  • Jeong-ah’s teaching position at Dongguk, along with a heavily padded resume, contributed to her coveted job appointment as co-director of the 2008 Gwangju Biennale, an internationally renowned event in the contemporary art world. This appointment gave her widespread recognition and prestige throughout South Korea.  
  • Jeong-ah’s appointment to this position was enhanced by her affair with the married Byeon Yang-kyoon, 58, who was the Senior Secretary for Policy Planning  as well as the Budget Minister for then President Roh Moo-hyun.
  • Later, when allegations arose that Jeong-ah’s degrees were bogus, Dongguk contacted Yale again and received a diferent reply stating that Jeong-ah did not receive a Ph.D. from Yale. 
  • Yale then reportedly denied making the earlier confirmation error. 
  • Shin Jeong-ah fled South Korea amidst the revelations of her false credentials, then returned to face criminal charges.
  • Yale’s denial reportedly contributed to a series of unfortunate circumstances that left Dongguk University with a tarnished reputation, a loss of revenue, a drop in student applications and job losses among its employees. 
  • Yale acknowledged and apologized for the earlier confirmation error.
  • Byeon Yang-kyoon resigned from his high-level government position for abusing his power to help her receive the Gwangju Biennale appointment. He received a one-year prison sentence, which was reportedly suspended, and must perform 160 hours of community service.  
  • Shin Jeong-ah was sentenced to a year and a half in prison for falsifying her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas and her Ph.D. from Yale, and for embezzling funds from an art museum.
  • Dongguk University sued Yale University for $50 million for erroneously confirming Jeong-a’s doctoral degree and then denying it.

This unfortunate situation in South Korea is not unique. Its notoriety is due to South Korea’s commitment to excellence in education and the government’s determination to get to core of the problem and fix it.

Fake degrees rest in dry ink on innumerable resumes and job applications throughout the world, including the United States. Diploma mills, businesses that sell fake degrees, make profits in the hundreds of millions each year, yet remain in business due to the ignorance or greed of their customers.

Yale University made a mistake. Dongguk University made a mistake. But Shin Jeong-ah made a choice.

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Popularity: 7% [?]

Posted by vida

Anna Nicole Smith’s Hometown Embroiled in Fraudulent Degree Scandal

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

For a small town, Mexia, Texas has had more than its share of notoriety. And now — yet another scandal.

Located 42 miles east of Waco, Mexia hit the newspapers and celebrity mags in grand style as the former hometown of troubled, but glamorous, Anna Nicole Smith. Smith lived in Mexia during her youth, attended the public schools and married a home-town boy. Her son, Daniel, was born there. She died tragically this past February of a reported drug overdose.

Now Mexia’s Liberty Hill school board is embroiled in a heated battle concerning school superintendent Dean Andrews, who acquired his doctorate in 1999 from California Coast University (CCA), a distance learning school. Although CCA has been recognized since 2005 by the U.S. Department of Education as an accredited online school, degrees awarded before that time are not considered by Texas to be accredited. Andrews received his Ph.D. from CCA in 1999; and Texas considers it to be a ”fraudulent or substandard degree“. The town is divided about how to handle the problem.

In Texas, it is against the law to list a non-accredited degree on a resume or job application. Some irate Liberty Hill parents believe that Andrews should be fired and charged with a crime. Supporters of Andrews, however, feel strongly that he should remain in his position. But as a top leader in the schools, many wonder if his example to the children would remain a positive one if his credentials are in question.

An epidemic of fake college degrees have been wreaking havoc across the nation as employers learn that valued employees purchased their college degrees, with little or no college-level work required. But in Texas, diploma mills are more than just frowned upon — they are illegal.

Yet California Coast University is in that category of schools that worked diligently toward accreditation and succeeded in acquiring it. It was a work-in-progress when Dean Andrews was there; it was not a shady operation. Obviously, the students were held to at least minimal standards which were eventually raised high enough to satisfy the appropriate accrediting bodies. The people of Mexia have their hands full with this one.

In 1981, Mexia was in the news when three African-American teens, who were in police custody for possession of marijuana, drowned while being transported across Lake Mexia. Three law enforcement officers accompanying them swam safely to shore; so questions arose about why the teens drowned less than 100 feet from land. Later, the officers were charged with criminally negligent homicide, but subsequently were found innocent of wrongdoing.

And in the 1940’s in Mexia, members of Field Marshall Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Corp and other German prisoners were housed in a prisoner of war camp now known as the Mexia State School. Over 5,000 were incarcerated on the grounds.

With Mexia, it appears that there is rarely a dull moment.

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Popularity: 4% [?]

Posted by vida

Six Arrested in New York City for Using Fake Degrees to Seek Jobs

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Imagine being treated by an emergency medical technician (EMT) arriving on the scene of an injury-accident. And suppose you later find out that the EMT who worked on you obtained the job using a fake college degree from a known diploma mill.

Unfortunately, as the New York Times reported, that is exactly what could have happened recently in New York City.  However, the diligent efforts of the NYC Fire Department spared the populace when it detected six suspicious employment applications.

Further investigation revealed that the six used fake college degrees — two from infamous diploma mill, Belford University — to apply for jobs as EMTs, fire fighters, and a clerical position. Four of the six boldly used bogus high school diplomas as well. They were all arrested and charged with falsifying business records.

The zero-tolerance policy of the NYC Fire Department (FDNY) is to be commended and should be held high as a beacon to fire departments and law enforcement agencies across the nation.  Leniency in these matters has failed as a deterrent to those who wish to skirt the law, lower competency standards and demean the efforts of those who truly earned their accredited college degrees.

Hopefully, private businesses and other employers will follow suit by improving the detection of deceptive job applications and educational qualifications, helping to safeguard the public.

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Popularity: 5% [?]

Posted by vida