FauxPlomas and the watering down of college degrees

What is a FauxPloma?

I just read an interesting article on FoxNews about the FauxPloma industry. Basically, a Fauxploma is a fake diploma as the name suggests. Evidently “Diploma Mills” seem to be increasing in number as more people are looking for a quicker way to become a college grad – on paper anyway. Apparently it is a billion dollar industry.

According to Fox…

Degree mills are unaccredited organizations that charge a fee for a degree with little to no educational work required. These fraudulent institutions typically give credit for life experiences and often have no physical facilities. To be sure, not all unaccredited institutions are diploma mills–some may be striving toward accreditation, and others may simply be training schools.

The scary thing to me is that it doesn’t seem to be a black and white issue. Some of these institutions are in the shady gray area. They might think they are doing students a favor by giving away hundreds of credit hours in exchange for “life experience,” but ultimately it is a short-cut to a degree.

A nationally recognized University in my town now offers degree programs that can be completed in only a fraction of the time for night students. From my what I hear, the classes actually require a whole lot less work than the traditional classes. I think it is great that they are trying to accommodate them, but at what cost? If student A graduates with the traditional degree and student B gets a non-traditional degree, works half as hard, and walks away with the same degree, it is only a matter of time before the word will get out.

Employers are going to realize that the degrees can be earned easier than they could in the past and begin to slightly value them less. I could see how it could be frustrating to students who put in a lot of time, energy, and money into a degree that is slowly deflating in influence.

I wrote a few days ago about my thoughts on whether a college degree was still worth the money and I think this adds a bit more food for thought.

This article was featured in the Carnival of personal Finance

What do you think? Have you seen how degrees have been watered down in your situation?

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  1. bob

    I don’t think that would be pleasing to God and even if there weren’t a moral issue with it – you can bet most people engaging in that activity are going to be found out and probably very embarrassed in the process

  2. Matt

    Your post made me think of this post: http://alfin2100.blogspot.com/2008/09/is-college-biggest-waste-of-all.html

    I think the degrees in general are already being devalued because it has become the standard ‘requirement’ for a white collar job. How do you distinguish between the person who worked hard in college and graduated with a good GPA vs the person who coasted through doing the bare minimum. Both have the same degree.

    “Here’s the reality: Everyone in every occupation starts as an apprentice. Those who are good enough become journeymen. The best become master craftsmen. This is as true of business executives and history professors as of chefs and welders. Getting rid of the BA and replacing it with evidence of competence — treating post-secondary education as apprenticeships for everyone — is one way to help us to recognize that common bond.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121858688764535107.html?mod=rss_Today%27s_Most_Popular

    How many white collar workers could do their jobs just as well if their 4 year degree was replaced with a few intense courses on using MS office, particularly excel?

    I have a 4 year degree that I probably shouldn’t have gotten. The main skills I use in my job, I already had before or I taught myself above and beyond my course work. Yet the idea that I needed a degree to earn a decent living pushed me to get one. If I had continued working full time for the four years of my degree I’d probably be making more right now and would have no student loan debt…

    I think in the future certifications in specific skills are going to be more meaningful than college degrees. One reason will be because of these fauxplomas, but another will be because of the glut of people with real degrees that are as nearly as meaningless.

  3. threadbndr (karla)

    My co-worker just finished one of those “non-traditional” degrees and several other people in the office are going to the same place. This is one of the better ones, not a “faux”, but definately not as many hours as I put in at a ‘traditional’ school. My college does do a lot of evening and weekend classes to accomodate students who are working full time, but the total hours and requirements are the same as for the daytime classes and the classes are taught by the same professors.

    Do I resent the fact that she has finished several years before me, has already been promoted over my head – yes. In the end, will my degree be better – I sure hope so. I do know that I have $0 in student loan debt, while she has several tens of thousands. That alone is enough to make it worthwhile for me.

  4. Discontented

    I have a real degree which I’ll sell real cheap.

  5. Coleen

    Every accredited college offers Clep testing which gives you college credit for just a few hours of testing. What’s the difference in gaining college credit that way versus the life learning experience term papers credit? I attended an accredited college that offered credit for life learning experience term papers as part of the elective courses. The writing experience alone has helped me more on my job than the actual classroom college courses I had to sit through. A college degree is a huge expense that most could and should do without.

  6. Anthony

    College is a very good option, IF you weigh its cost versus its benefits, i.e., tuition/student loans vs. real-world demand. I have a traditional 4 year degree in a field that I don’t work in. I made the naive mistake of not looking at how transferable the degree was in the business world. If I were to do it over again, I would still go through college, but in a very different field. However, currently, I was able to bargain my income based solely on the fact that I had a degree.

    I do believe degrees are probably going to become less meaningful in the future, but for now, they still carry weight; they just need to be thoroughly investigated before investing massive amounts of time and money into such an endeavor. Make certain that the degree will be needed in whichever field you want to pursue. Don’t go to college just because it demonstrates some perceived sign of “maturity.”

  7. Pam

    And after you get that degree, make sure you know how to party, gossip, kiss up to boss as much as possible; then you can get away with coming to work at any hours you feel, be a no show without notifying your boss, take as many smoke breaks as you please, spend hours on company’s time ever morning taking breakfast orders–then spend at least an hour having breakfast, or else your degree will be of no use.