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Beware of Fake Colleges. Learn to Recognize Them.

December 3, 2020

My seniors are in the process of considering postsecondary education, and given the proliferation of fraudulent sites purporting to offer postsecondary degrees (and the reality that online education is increasingly attractive during a pandemic), it is important for graduates and their parents to know identifiers of potentially fraudulent or otherwise shady online *insitutions of higher learning.*

To that end, I found a listing of fake universities (“degree mills”) on the site, geteducated.com. For each fake or otherwise suspicious school, the site offers a brief explanation of the problems with the school, including important information about accreditation (i.e., the way in which the public can know that a program or institution actually delivers a quality education), cautions about fraudulent operators choosing names that sound similar to respected institutions, and even the web address can be an indicator (ending in .edu is likely legit, but ending in .com is suspect).

Below are a few excerpts from the hundreds of entries on the geteducated.com “Degree Mills” listing:

Abet International University

This online college is not accredited by any agency recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education. This college is licensed to operate as an educational business in the State of Michigan.

Abet International posts a telephone contact number in Michigan (USA). No mailing address can be confirmed in the USA. No college accreditation can be confirmed to award degrees. This business has previously advertised as operating from Florida and offering cheap, fast MBA degrees. …

American Capital University (Various Locations)

There is no accreditation status for this school.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Michigan State Warning: The State of Michigan classified this online college as an unacceptable institution for credentialing for those seeking jobs in the state’s Department of Civil Service.

Oregon State Warning: The State of Oregon listed this online college as a non-accredited degree supplier.

Texas State Warning: The State of Texas classified this online college as an illegal supplier of educational credentials. …

American Sentinel University (CO)

This institution is not regionally accredited, but is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

Here is the difference between a nationally accredited program and regionally accredited one:  some career paths and licensing programs may require a regionally-accredited education. In regards to transfer credits and degree recognition, the general rule is that colleges with the same type of accreditation are more likely to accept each other’s courses and degrees as equivalents. …

Anaheim University (CA)

This institution is not regionally accredited, but it is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

Note that there is a difference between regional and national accreditation. In regards to transfer credits and degree recognition, the general rule is that colleges with the same type of accreditation normally accept each other’s courses and degrees as equivalents. If you attend a nationally-accredited college, it is likely that a regionally-accredited college will not recognize your hard work or financial investment when it comes to transfer credits or applying to graduate school. …

Ashwood University (Various Locations)

Be aware — there is no accreditation status for this school.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Michigan State Warning: The State of Michigan classified this online college as an unacceptable institution for credentialing for those seeking jobs in the state’s Department of Civil Service.

Oregon State Warning: The State of Oregon listed this online college as a non-accredited degree supplier.

Texas State Warning: The State of Texas classified this online college as an illegal supplier of educational credentials in the State of Texas (Consult: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Substandard and Fraudulent Institutions in Texas)

Ashwood University sells “life experience” degrees online for a few hundred dollars.

This entity should not to be confused with Ashford University of Iowa or Ashworth University of Georgia.  Both of these online universities are accredited, worthwhile institutions where you can earn an online degree. …

Central State University of New York (NY)

Be wary of this institution — it has no accreditation.  Furthermore, it is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Central State University of New York claims false accreditation as follows: “Central State University of New York is endorsed and accredited by the Distance Education Training Council (DETC) … Central State University is accredited also by the Accreditation Council for Higher Education Accreditation (ACHE). The ACHE is listed as a nationally-recognized accrediting agency in Wallis and Futuna Islands.”

While there was a previous, valid accrediting agency in the US called the DETC,  that agency is now the DEAC.  The DEAC has not accredited Central State U.  Furthermore, there is not a DETC or equivalent authority in the UK which is recognized by the USDE, either.

Central State is not a state-funded university in the US and is not accredited by any agency recognized by the US Department of Education. …

Cleveland Institute of Electronics (OH)

This institution is not regionally accredited, but is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).

While some career paths are fine with national accreditation, others require an education from regionally accredited colleges and universities. In regards to transfer credits and degree recognition, the general rule is that colleges with like accreditation will readily accept each other’s courses and degrees. If you attend a college which is not regionally accredited, it is likely that a regionally-accredited college will not recognize your coursework.  Depending upon your career path, attending a non-regionally accredited college could impact your future — just like what happened to Michael Satz. …

Columbus University (MS, LA)

This school is not accredited on any level.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

In June 2010, it was suspected that Columbus operations emanated from a prison cell, in a fraudulent scheme run by an inmate.

You can sniff out degrees that may not be valid beyond the doors of the institution where they were granted, by following some simple tips from the US Department of Education.  For instance, did you realize that a .edu web address most often indicates a legitimate school?  If you land on a website for a school that has a .com tag, be very leery of their credibility. …

Divine Heart College

This institution is not accredited on any level.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Did you know that an act of Congress established .edu web addresses for reputable institutions? This, and other tips from the US Department of Education, can help you in your search for an online school to earn your degree.  Arm yourself with the facts and avoid the pitfall of a diploma mill! …

Golden State School of Theology (CA)

While this entity is licensed to operate as an educational business in the state of California,  it is not accredited. Furthermore, it is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. …

Hamilton University (WY, HI, Bahamas)

Hamilton University was closed by court order in Wyoming.

The school was originally known as American State University and may have had roots in Hawaii. In 2010, the school was cited as operating out of the Bahamas.

Hamilton University should not be confused with the actual, legitimate institution of Hamilton College located in Clinton, New York. …

Lacrosse University (LA, MS)

This institution began in Louisiana and was closed by education authorities in 2002.  The school then moved to Mississippi where it was closed by the Commission on College Accreditation and no longer authorized to operate. …

LaSalle University (LA)

LaSalle University was closed by court action in 2002.

Do not confuse this entity with La Salle University, a well-regarded institution of higher learning located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. …

Miami Christian University (FL)

This school is not accredited and it is not recognized by the US Department of Education.

Miami Christian University has also been known as the Miami Bible Institute. While not accredited by any recognized agency to award college degrees, the institution has been allowed to operate a post-secondary, for-profit private school the State of Florida.  A consumer warning was previously posted:

Michigan State Warning: The State of Michigan classified this online college as an unacceptable institution for credentialing for those seeking jobs in the state’s Department of Civil Service. …

Preston University (AL)

This school is not accredited.  It is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.  The institution is licensed to operate as an educational business in the state of Alabama.  Consumer warnings are as follow:

Michigan State Warning: The State of Michigan classified this online college as an unacceptable institution for credentialing for those seeking jobs in the state’s Department of Civil Service.

Oregon State Warning: The State of Oregon listed this online college as a non-accredited degree supplier.

Texas State Warning: The State of Texas classified this online college as an illegal supplier of educational credentials.

Preston relocated to Alabama 2007 when Wyoming changed laws to require accreditation. Preston has also operated from the Netherlands, known as the entity:  Fairmont International University.  Bottom line — neither Preston or Fairmont are accredited by an authority recognized by the US Department of Education. …

Richardson University (TX, WY)

This entity was closed by court order in Wyoming and is potentially operating out of the Bahamas. The institution was previously known as Hamilton College and prior to that, may have offered diplomas under American State University out of Hawaii. Hamilton was the subject of a 60 Minutes investigation. The owner, Rudy Marn, was convicted in US court and served a sentence for committing fraud.

There is no level of accreditation affiliated with Richardson and the states of Oregon, Michigan and Texas have issued consumer warnings regarding its validity. …

Rise University (KY)

It is probably in your best interest to avoid this school — it is not accredited.  Furthermore, Rise is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

This institution was rumored to be operated by the same scam artists that ran schemes at Rochville University and Belford University Online. Despite claiming operations worldwide, the university has six unverifiable addresses in the US. …

Sacramento International University (Various Locations)

This entity is not recognized by the US Department of Education nor the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and it lacks any accreditation.

Oregon State Warning: The State of Oregon listed this online college as a non-accredited degree supplier.

Do not confuse this entity with Sacramento State University, a fully regionally-accredited college in California.

There are hundreds more listed. Check it out for yourself.

Don’t get scammed, seniors. Don’t be charmed by some cleverly-worded “acceptance” and find yourself with student debt tied to a useless or nonexistent credential. Be a smart consumer, and know the legitimacy of your selected school.

_____________________________________________________________

No time like the present to sharpen your digital research skills!  See my latest book, A Practical Guide to Digital Research: Getting the Facts and Rejecting the Lies, available for purchase on Amazon and via Garn Press!

Follow me on Twitter @deutsch29blog

2 Comments
  1. Laura H.Chapman permalink

    Excellent report. See also the marketing of “free diplomas” with do it yourself templates. I know a person who awarded herself a fake doctoral degree from one of these huckster outfits.

  2. It is unethical to use a fake document to gain employment, a fake diploma or fake transcript can only be used as a gag gift or to replace an original, get more details from http://www.nd-center.com

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