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The Tree – Sometimes You Should Use Paper

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 13, 2009 in Career Path, Job Search, Lessons Learned, Self Improvement

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Almost every day I receive an email that says something like “think before you print”, or “print responsibly to save a tree”.  I was thinking about this, particularly this week, when we had our first run in with a “diploma mill.”  I’d heard about this on 60 Minutes, but never came across one until this week.  While verifying a candidate’s education, an alert came up that their degree was from an unaccredited institution.

This became a huge exercise in research as to what is an accredited institution.  The Department of Education ( and the Council for Higher Education Association ( maintain current databases on accredited universities.  I called CHEA and was helped immediately by the first person that answered the phone.  She was amazingly well informed and was able to verify that not all online universities are fully accredited educational institutions.  I was dumbfounded that someone could obtain tuition reimbursement from a publicly traded company to complete a degree with an unaccredited institution.  Essentially, the candidate threw many thousands of dollars of tuition down the drain with an institution that claimed to be accredited, but is only accredited as an “online” institution.

There are reputable on line universities and distance learning opportunities such as the University of Phoenix.  If you’re considering making an investment in online education,  make sure you check with the Department of Education or the kind people at the Council for Higher Education to ensure sure your investment in your future is protected. 

Even if it means buying books, turning in papers and taking notes in an actual spiral notebook, and taking a little longer to get through all your classes, completing your education is not the time to be worried about saving a tree.

For the past 20 years while I’ve been a recruiter, we’ve gone to the university registrar directly whenever possible to verify education or to obtain transcripts.  It’s unfortunate that these disreputable organizations exist, taking people’s money and not giving the education in return for their financial and time invested.  This person lost out on a really great offer because of this situation and now we’ve changed our policies to use The National Student Clearinghouse ( ), a third party verification service, before approaching the university directly for transcripts.

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Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on!

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