Here's a college entrance exam no accredited college or university will ever give to their entering students. Perhaps they should if Truth is what they seek. It requires answering three statements with either a True or False response. Each incorporates major ethical issues plaguing American higher education. The fallout of the answers may affect potential students everywhere.

Number I. A legitimate college degree is only earned through a school accredited by an agency approved by the US Department of Education.
True / False

Number II. A degree of any kind -- Associate of Arts to a PhD -- received from a college or university other than one accredited by a US Department of Education approved agency is or should be considered a diploma mill.
True / False

Number III. A college/university degree accredited by a US Department of Education agency guarantees graduates a job.
True / False

Now for the Answers:

Number I. Not one single institution of higher learning in America, not one, is, or ever has been, required to have accreditation awarded by any agency approved or not approved by the US Department of Education.

In America, accredited schools covet and may even flaunt their regional accreditation so that they can attract students. The applicants may not be able to afford the education but will easily qualify for federal guaranteed student loans to pay the school's tuition. Colleges are paid directly from the Feds. The number of students on guaranteed student aid now exceeds 80 percent of the learner populations in most public and private colleges in America.

It has been suggested that should the US federal guaranteed student loan program cease to exist tomorrow, the number of students attending American accredited colleges and universities would drop more than half by nightfall. The rest would dwindle by half again by the end of the month. Tuition costs, even in state schools, are increasing so rapidly it is prohibitive for most students to attend were it not for the student loan program. And, the only way for a college to get on the Government guaranteed student loan list is to be accredited by an approved US Department of Education private agency.

Many suggest the real motive of American accredited colleges in sustaining accreditation and paying the huge fees and dealing with assessment visits from peers to analyze their programs is because they are driven purely by the economic factor to stay in business and prosper.

Detractors also suggest the accreditation deception assures a closed higher education monopoly along with the ability to increase tuition without objection enabling ongoing unobstructed private access to billions of dollars of student guaranteed education funding. Thousands of potentially competing schools, among them the best in the world, are left out of the loop. They cannot touch this Federal money even though they are licensed in their home states or accredited by a foreign jurisdiction.

These outcasts not only include new online and distance education schools, they also count in their midst colleges that are older than the USA and have been teaching and putting out scholars for two, three, and four hundred years.

Number II. Thus, the idea that any school not accredited by a US approved agency must be a diploma or degree mill is a perception that is also totally false. This mythical conclusion has all the earmarks of an ongoing conspiracy. It seems to have originated with the FBI's infamous DipScam investigation years back when a lone agent and his staff zealously took on the paper mills ? those schools that would give you a degree for a few hundred bucks and mastermind a bogus transcript for you to boot. That undercover job has long since been discounted as a waste of taxpayer money.

The original diploma mills that survived, reinvented themselves and continue to do a robust business by just labeling what they offer as FAKE. They sell degrees and transcripts by the thousands just like they used to. It's a half billion dollar a year business. It turns out that defining what a diploma mill is and what phonies actually meet the profile is actually pretty easy. It doesn't take a physics professor to point out whether a school has a place in the cosmos. But those in love with the concept that all colleges need to be accredited chose to invent the myth that a school not accredited is a diploma mill. Thus, the conspiracy to perpetrate the myth to cast all unaccredited or foreign accredited institutions as degree mills goes on.

Some have described this attitude as 'accreditation arrogance' because the first principle of American higher education is pretty simple - Accreditation is voluntary, and a college or university has a choice to seek, or not seek, American accreditation.

Number III. The final fallacy is that one must attend an accredited school because employers will not hire an applicant if the degree comes from an unaccredited college or university.

Let's put the cards on the table. Human relation departments are not charged by their CEO to make sure our applicants graduated from an accredited school before we hire them. The whole idea behind this is absurd on its face. Yet, in at least one western state in America, college graduates must meet this requirement for every job in state government that requires a degree.

Over 150 nations license schools to operate and offer degrees. Colleges and universities in these nations and those in most of the world find degrees earned from institutions licensed in these countries perfectly legitimate. The question any prospective student should ask is "will my degree be recognized?" not "Is the school accredited?"

Accreditation guarantees nothing, not even the transfer into another so-called accredited school. If you doubt that, stop by the registrar's office at a claimed accredited college and ask if the degree from their institution will guarantee admission into the graduate program of another 'accredited' school other than their own. And while you're at it, ask them if the credits you take there will be guaranteed transferable into another accredited school and get you the job you always wanted as well. You may be surprised at the answers. There are absolutely no guarantees.

The real benefactor in all this is you. Look beyond the scarlet letter the American accreditation fanatics would have you wear if you chose to attend a perfectly legitimate and respected unaccredited institution. If you can afford to break the yoke of servitude put on by the private regional accrediting agencies and the US Department of Education and get past them without a student loan, then alternative higher education choices become endless and, to say the least, awesome.

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