In the HR world, it is pretty common practice to verify an applicant’s educational credentials. Most of the time, the candidate has actually earned the degree they have listed on their resume, but in our industry we see more than our fair share of fake diplomas. Many of these fake documents come from what are known as ‘degree mills’ or ‘diploma mills’.
Diploma mills and degree mills are terms that are used pretty interchangeably, but yes, there is a difference between the two of them. A diploma mill issues fake diplomas from a real college and a degree mill issues a diploma from a fictitious college or university.
The colleges used by diploma mills may be considered an educational institution, but they are not accredited. It is important that a school is accredited because schools that are accredited must follow a strict set of standards and their students must follow a norm for their academics. You wouldn’t want to hire an employee who says they have a bachelor’s degree, when they completed their program in a few short weeks. They absolutely will not have the experience as someone who actually did earn the same degree from an accredited school.
Similarly, degree mills are a huge problem when the issuing “school” is not accredited. Many times, the degree provided by a degree mill, will look authentic, the school’s website seems legitimate and there may even be a call center where employees verify the validity of the degree! People actually pay for these services to appear that they are a qualified candidate for your position, but they have done little to no work at all.
George Gollin, a board member of the U.S.-based Council for Higher Education Accreditation, told CNN he estimates that more than 100,000 fake degrees are sold each year in the U.S. alone.
If educational credentials are important to the position you are seeking to fill, then it is imperative that you verify those credentials. But beware, colleges and universities don’t always make it easy to make those verification calls. Most registrars’ offices do not accept phone calls to verify degrees. In many cases, the college has contracted with a third party to manage degree inquiries. You have to pay a subscription fee to receive verifications from these third party vendors.
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