Many employers require job candidates to have a college degree or professional diploma. However, employers and candidates alike may not fully understand the differences among accredited, unaccredited and sham schools. Or they may not know how to investigate these institutions when there are suspicions. Of course, not all unaccredited schools are phony diploma mills, and a good school could lose its accreditation temporarily for a number of reasons.
It’s important to distinguish which type of school issued your candidate’s diploma, because the skill set and qualifications of a candidate who graduated from an accredited school can be far different from those of someone who attended an unqualified school. So an important step in the education verification process is to identify and label those schools that are either unaccredited or completely bogus.
Sometimes obvious red flags are present, such as being unable to find the specified school through an online search or its having a name that is suspiciously similar to that of a respected accredited educational institution.
In other cases, there are only more subtle warning signs. So, when deciding whether to launch a more in-depth examination of a particular educational credential, we often rely on the instincts of the experienced investigative staff.
Checking schools against blacklists (known unaccredited and fake institutions) and white lists (known accredited schools) is just the beginning. Other sources we use to piece together a puzzle that can become very cumbersome include state boards of education, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Council for Higher Education.
It’s difficult to keep up with the ever-changing world of unaccredited and sham schools. So knowing where to look and how to investigate is crucial in determining the true value of each candidate’s educational credentials.
By Heather Riley (Operations Manager, ReferencePro) and Amber Miller (International/Quality Supervisor, ReferencePro). Together they have over 15 years of combined experience in worldwide verification processes and research methodologies. Ms. Riley can be reached at 866-647-5564 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ms. Miller can be reached at 866-647-5564 or at email@example.com.