From: --- --- []
Sent: Saturday, July 05, 2003 3:54 PM
To: ---@---
Subject: yet another diploma mill?

Dear ---:

...I feel compelled to write you about a recent experience of mine.

I should begin with a brief description of my current situation, since it will help to explain how I came upon what I suspect to be yet another diploma mill in disguise.

I recently became interested in pursuing an M.B.A. and began investigating online programs (in late May/early June '03), since they tend to offer the greatest flexibility (in terms of scheduling) for individuals with full-time jobs.  In my Internet travels, I came upon a school by the name of Almeda College and University.

The website seemed well crafted and professional and described how the school offers both "traditional" and "non-traditional" programs.  The part that caught my eye indicated that credit could be granted for life/work experience.  (I'm aware of credible institutions that do this, so I remained open-minded.)

I proceeded to fill out the online application, attached my resume, and clicked "send."

Approximately five days later, I received an e-mail congratulating me that I had qualified to receive an MBA in ------.  I should mention that I have rather impressive work experience in this field and do currently work at a management level, so it seemed somewhat believable that a legitimate assessment process could have resulted in this decision: though, I was beginning to be suspicious.  Still, perhaps blinded by the flattery or a case of temporary stupidity, I proceeded to pay the "processing" fees in order to receive the degree.

During the one or two weeks it took to "process" my paperwork, I began to grow more and more suspicious.  For example, I visited the website of the Better Business Bureau and found that Almeda College and University's other name is Almeda Educational Services and has addresses in three or four states.  Much of the information that is normally present for legitimate businesses was not available because this company had not furnished BBB with the information that they requested.  This, too, raised a red flag.

Upon receipt of my new "diploma."  I made the decision that I would conduct an experiment.  I would construct a fictional individual with fairly impressive academic achievements (mainly in Biology) but who lacked managerial experience.  This individual would apply for a work/life experience assessment regarding an MBA in Operations Management.                

I searched the Internet for various resumes and cut-and-pasted from these many real resumes to construct this fictional individual's work and academic experience.

I then set up an e-mail account for this character and submitted this fake resume to Almeda for assessment.

Surprise, surprise: four-to-five days later I received almost the identical "congratulations" e-mail that I had previously received. 

From this experiment, I am now convinced that they are a diploma mill in disguise.

I will attach the fictitious resume and the "congratulations" e-mail for your review.  It's worth noting, that I even placed a rather obvious anachronism in this resume: I have this individual doing work with Windows 95 in the early 1990s.  This further evidences their shoddy review process.  Moreover, knowing that this individual is NOT REAL and yet qualified for a degree, one can safely assume that they do not check the credibility of the information provided on applicants' resumes.

So, to summarize, a true review process should have caught (at least) the following:
1.      The individual is not real, which would have been revealed by even a cursory background check
2.      The resume is internally inconsistent (e.g. the anachronism referred to above).
3.      The individual, even if assumed to be real, has absolutely no managerial experience and nothing that even resembles production/operations experience.

Anyway, I thought you might find this story interesting.

As for my "diploma," I plan to keep it as a reminder of both my moment of stupidity and the importance of character: well worth the --- that I paid.  Needless to say, it will never appear on my resume.


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