… that even UD, who prides herself on her grasp of our simulacral world, is having a little trouble.

It’s a diploma mill in Wyoming — nothing to see there; hundreds of thousands of diploma mills operate all over the world, and Wyoming is one of the most pro-diploma-mill states in America (God forbid the feds interfere with private enterprise). But even by Wyoming’s give-a-shit standards, the gloriously named Degree in a Day (the website provided in the Star Tribune story no longer functions) represents a problem. Dig:

The website tells visitors that purchasers can receive diplomas “in the traditional university manner printed on traditional paper with traditional fonts in the traditional format,” plus official transcripts, signed letters of verification to for use with an employer and letters of recommendation from the dean and president.

Under a tab called, “About Degree in a Day,” the website says it “offers verifiable and authentic life experience degrees from our own ‘Anonymous Universities.’” It continues, “We will never publish the name or allow it to be associated with this site to anyone other than alumni. We do this to ensure our alumni can feel confident there will not be any negative press online about their degree.”

The website “gives examples of legitimate-appearing university websites that it promises to construct in order to give purchasers ‘further proof their degree is in fact authentic,’” according to the complaint.

So… UD‘s been trying to figure this one out. Here’s what she’s come up with. If she’s right about the business model, it represents an authentic advance in the industry.

As soon as a diploma mill’s name becomes known, it becomes notorious. Coverage of the scam will invariably refer to “the notorious degree mill, LaSalle University,” or whatever. In order to avoid instantly stigmatizing the millions of people who’ve gotten bogus degrees from this or that outfit, Degree in a Day will tailor-make a pretend online university just for you. It will come up with a name (the model assumes one will never run out of plausible-sounding university names, and this seems to UD a reasonable assumption) that will be known only to you and to the few to non-existent employers who ever bother to check your credentials.

One particularly brilliant aspect of this model involves (I assume) the ability at a moment’s notice to change the university from which you graduated. Once you’ve been run out of town because of the exposure of your fake Cambridgetown Institute of Technology degree, you can go back to Degree in a Day and have them construct Oxfordshire Institute of Technology.

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5 Responses to “This is so “meta” …”

  1. MattF Says:

    You’re over-thinking this. Is there a football team? Football team + coach + athletic director + President = University.

  2. Mr Punch Says:

    That’s so … old-school, MattF. The University of Phoenix, for example, dispenses with all those trouble-making players and coaches – they just have a 63,000-seat stadium with their name on it.

  3. Robert T. Rubin Says:

    This is standard business practice for many scammers, from aluminum siding salesmen to pump-and-dump brokerage houses to allow-me-to-offer-you-a-fortune-for-a-small-fee Nigerian internet prowlers. The reason this is capturing attention is because these folks are doing you-know-what in our own academic backyard. Regarding their “diplomas”, caveat lector and conduct due diligence for authentication, as with anything else.

    Robert T. Rubin, MD, PhD

  4. theprofessor Says:

    Oxfordshire University
    Long River College
    Transmississippi University
    Potomac Technical Institute
    P.D.Q. Bach Conservatory of Music
    Appleseed College

  5. Margaret Soltan Says:

    tp: PDQ Bach is the winner.

    UD

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