What others say about diploma mills. And, is Lacrosse

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					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