By Garry W. Johnson
A reporter visited the websites of the high school’s accreditation agencies, the International Accrediting Agency for Online Universities and the Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation, and found they provided no address, names of staff, or listing of schools they certify.
Employees of Belford refused to give straight forward answers when a reporter called and asked why the accrediting agencies had such vague websites. When the reporter mentioned that the agencies weren’t listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s database, the employee responded – correctly, but irrelevantly – that the education department doesn’t accredit schools. Then he hung up. The reporter also called the accrediting agencies twice, but no one answered.
Post-Secondary Education Accreditation
Unlike bogus GED programs, college legitimacy is a little harder to nail down, especially in the United States. In other nations most colleges and universities are operated by the government, just as the public school system is here. But colleges in the U.S. are private (like diploma mills) or state facilities, and the federal government does not have a body of experts who investigate and approve individual schools. In fact, accreditation in this country is entirely a voluntary process. The government does not commission accrediting agencies; they are essentially private firms made up of experts for investigating and deeming worthy schools that are willing to be accredited. This lack of central supervision has led to there being good accreditation and bad accreditation.
Take for example an accrediting agency that calls itself the Accrediting Commission for Specialized Colleges. This agency accredits, among others, a school named Indiana Northern Graduate School. The name sounds impressive, but investigators found the school to be nothing more than a dairy farm in Gas City. The accrediting agency will accredit anyone willing to mail them a check for $110.
By Garry W. Johnson
You just can’t trust anybody anymore. GED and college correspondence graduates are finding more and more that the certificates they worked so hard for (and/or paid through the nose for) are not worth the paper they are printed on. Even worse, some are being ripped off through scholarship scams with nothing to show for their effort but debt.
If you’ve come into the prison system and find yourself sitting in a GED class because your credentials were “unverifiable,” you are not alone. Students across the country are finding GEDs they paid as much as $1,500 for are nothing more than counterfeits produced by a “diploma mill.”
These non-accredited correspondence or distance learning schools have been around for decades, but the internet has now enabled them to reach a much larger audience and expand more into the GED market.
As Washington continues to monkey with the unstable economy and unemployment skyrockets, high school dropouts are finding themselves with even poorer job prospects and turning to these mills in desperation. Statistics from the official General Education Development (GED) program in North Carolina show 14,364 people completing the test in the fiscal year 2011-2012. That was up from 13,028 in 2009-2010 and 12,817 the year before that.
Instead of increasing their ability to obtain or hold a job, the victims of GED scams find themselves squandering money they don’t have and making themselves subject to job termination, lawsuits and criminal prosecution. “I don’t know how someone who has any kind of conscience can make money from people who are already struggling,” said C.T. Turner, spokesman for the GED Testing Service in Washington.