What is a Diploma Mill

According to the Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a diploma mill is an institution of higher education operating without the supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are, either fraudulent or because of the lack of proper standards, worthless.

“Earn a bachelor’s degree in less than 5 weeks!” I'm sure  you’ve received piles of these advertisements in your mailbox, and unlike others, you might just have been smart enough to ignore them. The truth is 99% of these amazing, too-good-to-be-true offers are, well, just that. The majority of these are what we have come to call “diploma mills”. In recent years, diploma mills have become a major source of fraud within the work industry. With long distance education becoming prevalent in our society, mail-ordered diploma scams are common.
           
Many diploma mills simply hand you a diploma in exchange for a sum of money without ever asking you to do work. A few will require an essay. Those fraudulent businesses scam people by sending them convincing brochures filled with fake statistics and pictures. In actuality, most diploma mills are no more than some con-artist running a scam out of the computer of his one bedroom apartment.

Some diploma mills will attempt to offer their customers degrees based on life experience, as in the case of an honorary degree. While it is true that real life experience can often times be more valuable than classroom experience, they can only account for so much of your education. Even if you are an expert in your field, generally a few additional courses should still be required to attain your degree. 
           
Do they work?

Yes. While most employers claim to check your credentials, statistics show that only about 40% of employers actually take the trouble to do so. Stories have been told of patients dying from medical practitioners hired on fake college degrees. And if you think these fake degrees are only good for getting hired, you may be wrong. Many already-employed workers obtain these degrees in order to qualify for a pay raise at their current jobs.

How to avoid them

With online universities popping up everywhere, it can be a rather daunting task for an employer to determine which universities are real and which are merely selling inscribed sheep-skin. The trick is to look for accreditation. If the college you are receiving a degree from is not backed by one of these accrediting agencies, chances are, the credits you’ve earned aren’t worth much. You can also do a search for your school in this database of higher learning institutions approved by the US secretary of Education.