Going to School or Getting Schooled?

Better Business Bureau serving Mississippi alerts degree seekers of the outcome of an investigation into a 'diploma mill,' an unregulated institution granting degrees with few or no academic requirements.
May 01, 2017

Columbus University claims to be an accredited online institution that has offered various certificate and degree programs, including liberal arts, science arts, sciences, business and law. However, a BBB investigation revealed that Columbus University is not what it seems.

BBB was unable to confirm that Columbus University is accredited. BBB checked with Council for Higher Education Accreditation, MS Dept of Education, and US Dept of Education. BBB found that Columbus University is not authorized to operate in Mississippi according to the Mississippi Commission on College Education. Such a license is required in Mississippi for businesses offering continued education.

BBB attempted to contact Columbus University via email and postal mail to get information regarding its degree programs, however, the company did not respond. BBB has also received complaints from consumers claiming that their degrees were found to be not valid and requests for transcripts when unanswered.  

It is possible to further your education online through an accredited program. However, BBB urges persons looking to enhance their resume with a degree to carefully research a prospective college's credentials and search bbb.org before providing personal or financial information. By representing a worthless degree to an employer or potential employer, the employee risks rejection and in some cases prosecution.

The U.S. Department of Education provides a list of recognized accrediting agencies on its website.  Degree seekers should research advantages and disadvantages between choosing a degree offered through a regionally accredited program or one that is nationally accredited. Always verify accreditation with the organization providing the distinction. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation Database is a helpful resource for anyone interested in advancing their education.


BBB offers some tell-tale signs of a diploma mill:

No Studies, No Exams - "Get a Degree for Your Experience." Diploma mills grant degrees for "work or life experience" alone. Accredited colleges may give a few credits for specific experience pertinent to a degree program, but not an entire degree.

No Attendance. Legitimate colleges or universities, including online schools, require substantial course work.

Flat Fee. Many diploma mills charge a flat fee for an entire degree. Legitimate colleges charge by the credit, course or semester.

Universal Guarantee of Credit Transfer. By the unique nature of a specialized degree, it is impossible for an institution to provide a blanket guarantee that credits will transfer to every institution or program.

No Waiting. Operations that guarantee a degree in a few days, weeks, or even months aren't legitimate. If an ad promises that you can earn a degree very quickly, it's probably a diploma mill.

Click Here To Order Now! Some diploma mills push themselves through aggressive sales tactics. Accredited colleges don't use spam or high-pressure telemarketing to market themselves. Some diploma mills also advertise in newspapers, magazines, and on the Web.

Advertising through spam or pop-ups. If the school caught your attention through an unsolicited email or pop-up ad, it may be a diploma mill. Legitimate institutions, including distance learning programs, won't advertise through spam or pop-ups.


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