Diploma Mill Defined

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by TomVols, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. TomVols

    TomVols
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    On another thread, Havensdad wrote that:
    I think this is not a bad definition. That said, over the years, I've heard a plethora of schools referred to as diploma mills. Someone once said that the SBC seminaries prior to the conservative resurgence were diploma mills, cranking out those who spoke liberal shibboleths. Someone also levied the charge against these same seminaries after the resurgence, saying that there was merely indoctrination and not education occuring within their walls.

    Some non-accredited institutions have been called diploma mills. Yet some of these schools do require work, and though different from normal American educational models, the work is indeed substantive. Some accredited schools have been less than stellar in the way some of the courses have been taught, graded, etc.

    So I ask you, without necessarily naming names:

    1. What constitutes a diploma mill?
    2. Can legitimate schools go through phases of "diploma mill"-itis?
    3. Does accreditation automatically negate the possibility of a diploma mill? Is the converse true?

    Let the games begin....
     
  2. Steven2006

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    IMO a school who's main mission is to attract students who seek a degree that only requires minimal if any work at all would be a diploma mill.

    Schools who's main mission is to do their utmost to properly teach those that attend are not.
     
  3. TomVols

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    In theory, an RA school could be the former, and a non-accredited school could be the latter. Would you agree or disagree?
     
  4. Salty

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    I would say a Diploma School is one which basically gives you a diploma, just so you can have one.
     
  5. TomVols

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    I think that's a good definition.

    I've seen these. Some on EBay, some actually have a physical presence. I know of a now defunct IFB Christian school (K-12) that awarded honorary doctorates every year to major donors. Pathetic, IMHO.
     
  6. Salty

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    '
    Whats the address, I want one. Would $25 be enough? :smilewinkgrin:
     
  7. Havensdad

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    Tom,
    I think it is important to distinguish between "sub-standard" and "diploma mill." I think a Regionally Accredited school could be sub-standard, but I do not believe it could be a mill. It seems that the requirements for accreditation would require at least a minimum of coursework for a degree.

    A mill is not a school whose curriculum "needs a little work": it is a school which requires little coursework, or none at all.
     
  8. saturneptune

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    Here is an example of a really slick operation that almost appears legitimate.

    http://www.almedacollege.com/

    I retired from the federal government about one month ago. While still employed, there were several individuals from around the country that were either disciplined or even removed for using this institution on a promotion application that required a certain level of education.

    Almeda University claims to be accredited by two institutions. The problem is the accrediting agencies are bogus. You cannot use the GI bill or federal loan programs at the institution. Basically, you pick out your level of degree, you major, write up a paper detailing your life experience, and voila, a degree in the mail. However, be prepared to shell out $500 to $1400. It does not end there. If a not so sharp employer wants verification, he can fax a request to a number, and he will get verification. If you explore the web site, note the theoological degrees that are avaliable.

    I am aware that some Bible colleges are good schools and not accredited, but this place requires no school work or effort. Learning institutions worthiness are not always judged by the ability to get federal aid. There are some sad schools that allow federal aid.

    Sometimes a diploma mill is hard to define, but here is an example of a well run scam.

    Another reason I was sort of familiar with this organization, is when I went back to college a few years ago to get my degree, someone told me about this easy way out. It did not take too long to figure out this was not what I needed. I am not substitute teaching in a public school system part time. Where programs like that really break down is when you must use the degree for a law, medical, public sector, and any other job requiring some kind of state licensing procedure.
     
    #8 saturneptune, Dec 2, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2009
  9. Jim1999

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    I guess the question we need to ask is Why are we going to school? If we just want to impress people with our degrees, anything will do. It is soon evident that the holder of some degrees, soon demonstrate their short-coming when they open their mouths.

    On the other hand, the past few years, I have taken courses of study as a mental discipline for me and not to impress others. Most courses have served their purpose despite a lack of state or provincial accreditation.

    Then, some schools follow a specific theological viewpoint, and it wouldn't matter to me what their academic standing was. I would prefer another's diploma than their degree.

    I am not even sure that I would ever apply for a pastoral position in baptist circles to-day. In the early days, a man was chosen by recommendation and on his own merits before that congregation.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  10. Johnv

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    One which conferrs a degree or diplima with little or no coursework. Many have so-called requirements they pass of as coursework which is not (aka, read this book, return the attached quiz, and boom, here's your degree).
    By definition, no, since legitimate schools require a set amount of completed coursework with a minimal gpa to be awarded a degree. In practice, though, it's possible. There are many professional schools that have specific class and unit requirements, but who make it intentionally easy for a person to pass those classes (for the purpose of collecting the unit fee).
    By definition, accreditation via a legitimate accreditor automatically negates the possibility of a school being a diploma mill, since a school cannot be accredited without adhering to the accreditor's set standard for conferring degrees and diplomas. But again, by practice, it's certainly possible for an accredited school to engage in the type of activity noted in my previous paragraph.

    Conversely, not being accredited does not necessarily mean a school is a diploma mill. However, if a school refuses to be accredited, or fails the accreditation process, that is an indicator that an underlying problem exists with the school's educational infrastructure.
     
    #10 Johnv, Dec 2, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2009
  11. preachinjesus

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    I agree with the above definitions. From my experience it is pretty much a institution lacking sufficient campus, library, and infrastructure that will charge a low fee for "degrees" conferred. Most of these degrees are purchased with little or no coursework, interaction with faculty, and classroom time.

    In terms of our overall structure, absolutely. Lots of colleges and universities have started to realize that the greatest cash cow are professional, non-technical degrees like MBA and MA (Management) that can be done quickly but with high cost. I know of two colleges in the area that offer a weekend executive MBA that end up costing betwee $70k and $85k for the student.

    Also our overall collegiate structures have certainly become less rigorous and more degree granting. Scholarship has been lost in the mix. Yes, we are turning out more students but far less equipped thinkers. Overall in the US we have really seen a degradation in scholarship.

    Nope. I know plenty of "accreditted" schools whose degrees are pretty worthless for anyone I would consider hiring on staff at church or staff at the college.

    Honestly though Christians have been the leaders in dipolma-mill education in many ways. I know of a guy who got his MA and PhD from Patriot University and paid them (at the time) about $10,000 for both. His dissertation was horrible and their campus was a house in Montana or something. Ridiculous.

    The whole education thing is at a crossroads right now. We have some for-profits getting launched to continue to abuse students and we have tons of e-campus stuff that is a mixed bag. When we decided as a society that a college degree was the measure of a person we really brought this on ourselves. :)

    The good news is that most serious HR firms for business, government, and education can look over a resume and discard the ones that have bad info. Recently we looked at hiring a guy who did his undergrad at a good school then his MDiv and DMin at what we consider a dipolma mill. After talking with him we saw that his shotty academic work was indemnic of a shotty professional life. We didn't call him back.
     
  12. TomVols

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    Good responses from all.
    Thanks for the post, HD. I have had some RA, RE classes that required little or no coursework. Would a RA, RE program with a majority of these be considered a mill? What is the standard for determining what is sub-standard?
    Many seminaries have the same rules. I don't know if we can say this makes a mill. That said, your example reminds me of the old Kennedy Western, which I believe required no coursework. Some folks I know in Homeland Security and with the DOE got "degrees" from there. That oughta make you sleep well tonight. :)
    Again, I know of RA, RE schools who have a majority of classes like this. I know of one RA school whose DE programs are all open book tests. So is this a mill?
    That's a good assessment.
    Yes, and it's sad.
    I don't think this is universal. The folks I mentioned above got their positions in the govt and private sector after getting a degree through a mill. And I have had a wide range of jobs. Financial officer, Pastor, chaplain, admissions counselor at a university, a professor, a school teacher - and not once was I ever asked for a transcript or for validation of my degree, even though my undergrad is from somewhere most folks have never heard of and has only been RA for about a dozen years, NA for only about 20.
    I agree that a school that is UA is not necessarily a mill. I don't agree that schools who choose not to be accredited are mills. Some do so for legit reasons (Columbia Evangelical is one example) and John Bear rightly asserts that schools are better off to have no accreditation than have bogus or shoddy accreditation. If a school fails legit accreditation, that does say something though.

    You just "milled" a lot of RA schools in this definition :)
    Agreed.
    I'd agree.

    This is fascinating and very stimulating conversation.
     
  13. DHK

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    Both Maranatha BBC and Bob Jones used to be unaccredited. I went to those schools at that time. Since then they both have accepted accreditation. Too bad accreditation isn't "retroactive." Both now and at the time that I went they were and are good schools.
     
  14. preachinjesus

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    Absolutely! :thumbsup:

    Yep I did that. :laugh:

    I am deeply worried about our academic institutions right now. We are really facing some very dangerous trends when it comes to education. As a society we are lowering the bar when it needs to be raised. I'm an education snob...maybe it comes from begin a bit of an academician.

    We just need to be the best, imho, and these mills aren't best.
     
  15. Dr. Bob

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    Ah, DHK, if you have an earned BA/BS or MA/MS from Maranatha, even from the years prior to accreditation, it IS accredited. I have both from the first couple years of the school and when teaching in our local public college, they simply look up and see that the INSTITUTION is accredited and your work is considered accredited.

    I was the first MBBC BA grad to enroll at UW. They accepted 105 of 132 undergrad credits across the board, requiring only a couple advanced science classes and a new major. I was a "test case" to show the quality of MBBC undergrad and was used later in the accrediting process as an example.

    Of course, that way I also at BS/MS from UW (to go with the BA/MA from Maranatha) that were accredited long before MBBC earned theirs.
     
  16. DHK

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    I wish that were true. Up here in the Great White North, the snotty educational institutions won't recognize any of my American Education that was non-accredited at the time I took it, though the schools be accredited now. They insist I go through four more years of education if I want to teach here just to get a B.ed. by an accredited school, even though I have 8 years of post-secondary education, including two masters degrees, one of which is an M.ed.
     
  17. Johnv

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    That in an dof itself doesn't mank such an institution snotty. Most institutions (public and private) south of the 49th parallel likewise won't recognize units from an instition that was non-accredited at the time the units were taken, even if that institution becaomes accredited later. My wife had that problem when entering a Christian school for a Master's program, after completing a bachelor's program at an unaccredited Christian school (which has since been accredited). It was a mess. Her post-bachelor's options were extremely limited.
     
  18. TomVols

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    My alma mater was NA when I was there, and the RA process was initiated. The RA process did not complete until after I graduated. The agreement made was that if a student went back and completed X number of hours, the degree would be RA, and that's what I did years later before attempting secular graduate work. Much talk of grandfathering occured, but it was just a myth.
     

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