OPINION - COMMENTARY CHEYENNE HERALD -- MAY 2, 2005 - PAGE 3
What others say about diploma mills.
And, is Lacrosse University a diploma mill?
Pacific Western University Cited As a Question from A’Man, e.student: Some of the schools on the Oregon list Maxine Asher Has a Degree for You:
Diploma Mill in a Government argue they aren’t diploma mills but are Of course her university is accredited.
Investigation Sir, when you say “In many states the the victim of narrow thinking about how She did it herself. Scott Smallwood
answer is “low standards.” Montana, a university should operate.
The General Accountability Office of the Wyoming, Hawaii and Mississippi are Maxine Asher wanted her American
Federal Government (www.gao.gov), generally considered among the An admission’s counselor at Lacrosse World University to carry the imprimatur
discussed Pacific Western University in weakest...” What is the basis for this University said the school offered a good of an accrediting agency. So she started
report number GAO-04-1096T entitled consideration, and how can the Dept. of value to its students who can earn a an association of like-minded
‘Diploma Mills: Diploma Mills Are Easily Education assist these states and low- master’s degree in business entrepreneurs to offer recognition to
Created and Some Have Issued Bogus standard academic entities within them, administration by taking nine themselves ...
Degrees to Federal Employees at reach a level of quote un-quote minimal correspondence classes and paying
Government Expense’. The report was standard? approximately $2,500. In a posh apartment building in the
released on September 23, 2004. Westwood neighborhood here, a fax
Alan Contreras: machine hums behind the front desk,
“We’re not a diploma mill,” said Jennifer,
Here’s a juicy excerpt from the report: an admission’s counselor who would spitting out pages on distinctive green
States like Montana and Hawaii do not paper. No one would guess that it’s the
really have an ongoing evaluation not give her last name. “I promise you
Purporting to be a prospective student, hub of American World University, an
process for private colleges. Wyoming that you’ll walk away from here learning
our investigator place telephone calls unaccredited institution with more than
to three schools that award academic allows any entity to call itself religious something. If you want to get something
and then start issuing all sorts of out of our classes, you will. That’s the 7,000 students around the globe ...
credits based on life experience and
require no classroom instruction: degrees in nonreligious fields (a way it works with any class.”
problem in some other states, too). I am If American World were all that Ms. Asher
Barrington University (Mobile, Alabama);
not sure what the problem is in The Board of Regents of Louisiana ran, she would be an interesting bit
Lacrosse University (Bay St. Louis,
Mississippi): and Pacific Western Mississippi but if reptiles like apparently disagreed. The board player in her industry. But in 1993, she
University (Los Angeles, California). LaCrosse crawl into it, it obviously refused to renew the license for the founded the World Association of
These schools each charge a flat fee has limited useful oversight. The U.S. school to operate in the state. It simply Universities and Colleges, an
for a degree. For example, fees for department of Education has essentially accrediting service unrecognized by the
moved its headquarters to Mississippi.
degrees for domestic students at Pacific no role to play regarding unaccredited U.S. Department of Education, that gives
Western University are as follows: colleges, since they are not eligible for its imprimatur to a host of alternative
Bachelor of Science ($2,295); Master’s financial aid. There is talk of (‘Since 2001, when [Louisiana] cracked institutions.
Degree in Business Administration establishing a “model code” for state down on unaccredited mail-order
($2,395); and PhD ($2,595). School regulators, that could serve as an diploma mills, several distance-learning Almost every day, Columbus University
representatives emphasized to our example for other states. (Emphasis CH’s.) and Lacrosse University, both of which
institutions jumped the border and set
undercover investigator that they are not Almost all of the words on this page up shop with a Mississippi address. are considered diploma mills by some
in the business of providing, and do not come from third-party sources. The …Lacrosse, Columbus and American government regulators, advertise in the
permit students to enroll for, individual purpose is to show Herald readers World universities …, all of which were back pages of USA Today. In bold type,
courses or training. Instead, the schools what others have written about the they tout their accreditation from the
once based in Louisiana, now have their
market and require payment for degrees subject of diploma mills. Readers who association. That makes Ms. Asher a
on a flat-fee basis. want the attribution can e-mail us. headquarters between Picayune and
Pascagoula. … Also unclear is how central figure in the shadowy world of
serious Mississippi is about overseeing unaccredited higher education ...
State mulls online learning, the operations in the shadowy but
Associated Press (Mead Gruver), Billings [Wyoming] Gazette, January 30, 2005.
lucrative niche of the education market
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The campus of American Capital University has no shady quadrangle, … The sudden eruption of diploma mills
Wyoming New Haven For
no stately old buildings nor libraries, neither classrooms nor fraternity houses - not even in Mississippi reprises Louisiana’s
Online Diploma Mills,
a coed curled up with a textbook in a quiet corner. There’s just a middle-age man who David Root, AACRAO Transcript, February 16, 2005.
sits at a computer in a tiny, undecorated, windowless office in the basement of a
experience, which in turn echoed what
downtown building. But in a sense, this fellow - Bill Allen, American Capital University’s California had been through… By 2002,
only seven such universities were left in Wyoming is currently home to eleven
chief academic officer - has lots of company: Wyoming licenses 10 other online schools
that have no mainstream accreditation and maintain only a token physical presence in online universities, none of which are
Louisiana, five of which were denied a
the state. accredited by any recognized authority.
license by the state. The Mississippi
This high concentration of so-called
exodus had begun. … “When we saw
Defenders of such schools say Wyoming is forward-thinking for accepting a relatively diploma mills is due to the state’s loose
inexpensive way for working adults to get degrees in their spare time through mail and Lacrosse had relocated there we called
requirements for who can operate as a
Internet courses. But others say the state has become a haven for diploma mills... [Mississippi officials], and there didn’t
center of higher education and grant
seem to be a whole lot of concern,” [said degrees. Many of these schools offer
Because of lax state requirements, more online schools are popping up in Wyoming than one Louisiana official]. … )
anywhere else, according to Steven Crow, executive director of the North Central
advanced degrees with little actual
Association of Colleges and Schools, the regional school accreditation agency. academic work. In one case, a
government investigator was forty
“Most other states have enough rigor in how they determine who can operate as a
What’s a Diploma Mill? percent of the way to a master’s degree
Thomas Bartlett and Scott Smallwood.
college and grant degrees that it’s not as easy for places to get started,” he said... in sixteen hours. In another, a student
could get credit for a course in
In December, state lawmakers abandoned a bill that would have required private schools While there is no single definition for a
hazardous waste management by
to have proper accreditation by 2010. That was after Sen. Kathryn Sessions, D-Cheyenne, diploma mill, warning signs abound... passing a 100 question, open-book,
and another member of the Joint Interim Education Committee, Sen. Jim Anderson, R-
Glenrock, were guests of Cheyenne-based Preston University on an expenses-paid trip multiple choice exam ...
The Council for Higher Education
to Preston campuses in Pakistan and Dubai.
Accreditation (CHEA), a private group Legislation designed to impose stricter
Sessions supports tougher Education Department rules for distance learning but doesn’t that represents more than 60 accrediting guidelines was shelved in December,
think accreditation is necessarily the answer. “I just don’t believe that the good should be agencies, says that while there is no after two of the state’s senators returned
thrown out with the bad,” she said. “And I’m a little bit tired - I know how much money single, agreed-upon definition, several from an all expenses paid trip to Dubai
accrediting institutions charge universities and colleges - and I’m a little bit tired that they indicators suggest that an operation
think they’re the end-all.”
and Pakistan, where they were guests
may be a diploma mill. For instance: on campuses of Preston University, a
But Crow and state Superintendent Trent Blankenship, who supported the accreditation
GIVING DEGREES FOR LIFE distance learning school based in
bill, said accreditation ensures that a credible third party has reviewed a school. “We EXPERIENCE, LISTING NO FACULTY Cheyenne, Wyoming.
don’t have to reinvent the wheel on a lot of things,” Blankenship said... MEMBERS, and CLAIMING
(Editor’s note: The two senators were Kathryn
ACCREDITATION FROM A Sessions of Cheyenne and Jim Anderson of
A spokesperson for Lacrosse University told a reporter for a local newspaper that they were QUESTIONABLE ACCREDITOR. Glenrock, both retired educators.)
accredited “through the Association of Distance Learning Programs” and “affiliated with the
National Academy of Higher Education.” Neither of these organizations (ADLP and NAHE) are Advertise in Cheyenne’s best-read paper
recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation,
thereby rendering the accreditations illegitimate. ADLP is a “division” of NAHE.
THE CHEYENNE HERALD
Lacrosse was previously accredited by another bogus accreditor, World Association of Univer- Ad rates start at $36.00 ... no contracts
sities and Colleges, but was either thrown out because they didn’t pay the necessary fees
(WAUC story) or quit because WAUC provided no service (Lacrosse story). 637-2879