Diploma Mills - Another Sad Story

Posted on June 30 2008

This article in the New York Times this past weekend is an in-depth (and disturbing) look into the murky world of what are known as "diploma mills".

While the article centers on post-secondary institutions, it's not hard to imagine how many of these operations exist at the high school level as well. I am struck by how elaborate the schemes appear to be. Not only are these operations designed to take people's money and deliver nothing credible, but in this particular case they went as far as creating fake accrediting agencies to "accredit" their fake schools!

Of course the rapid rise of online, virtual learning creates an environment where scams can run rampant. The doctrine of caveat emptor - let the buyer beware - applies in the online world just as it does everywhere else.

Not a day goes by where we don't get a call from someone who asks, "I thought I could pay $400 and get a high school diploma?". Well callers, maybe you can. But do your homework - when looking into "schools" that have offers like these, ask yourself "why" you are getting something that only requires you to write a check? If it were that easy why wouldn't everyone just do that instead of actually going to school and earning a diploma?

Furthermore, ask yourself "who" is providing the school's accreditation - is the accrediting agency considered a legitimate component of the U.S. education system?

There are a number of very good online high schools out there, and (reader beware - shameless plug coming) The American Academy is one of them. We've worked very hard to earn our regional accreditation through the Northwest Accreditation Commission. And we work hard every day to maintain it.

A fancy piece of paper that says "Diploma" from a school with a fancy name is just that if it's not "legit". Choose wisely.