Posted by: Lindsey Gerdes on September 24, 2009
Yet another distinguished young scholar recently entered the workforce with an MBA in hand, ready to face the dismal employment landscape like so many of his fellow grads. Chester Ludlow, however, is one of the lucky few who actually has a job. (You could even say he has a leg up on the competition).
Chester serves as the official mascot of Geteducated.com, a site rating online schools and degrees. That’s right, Chester Ludlow is a dog. With a degree.
While Chester seems like a perfectly affable pup, it's a little hard to believe the pug graduated with a 3.19 GPA, a certificate of distinction in finance, and even served on the student council, as his records now show. But that's exactly what the documents shipped to him from Dubai--a diploma and transcript from Rochville University, which advertises itself as "an internationally recognized on-line university"--clearly state.
What did the accomplished canine do to earn these honors? Well, apparently the Geteducated.com team simply sent in a "resume" with a $499 fee to Rochville and that served as his application. Chester was then granted his diploma based on "life experience and career achievements." (So I guess learning to play dead would be the equivalent of a PhD?)
Although Chester's tale (or "cautionary tail," as the video about Chester's experience dubs it) is undeniably amusing, this is actually a pretty serious issue.
There are numerous such "diploma mills" willing to hand out degrees to almost anyone for a couple hundred bucks. The only way to know if a university is truly legimitate is to check on whether or not it's accredited at an agency officially recognized by the Department of Education. Geteducated.com, for one, offers a "Diploma Mill Police" feature that lets students check into universities' credentials free of charge.
Chester & co. aren't the first such clever scammers. The Chronicle of Higher Education, which first linked to Chester's story, also called readers' attention to a 2007 New York Times story about a diploma-ed dog. Apparently, a defense lawyer tried to get the testimony of a city police chief thrown out because the department's own dog also purchased (I mean, attained) a degree from the same Caribbean-based institution.
The true (and rhyming!) lesson here is that a sketchy diploma can bite you in the rear when it comes to your career. (In the aforementioned "Cautionary Tail" video, Chester goes to a job interview, only to be cruelly turned away after his interviewer does a more thorough check into his credentials.) But let's not be too hard on the bright-eyed recent grad who uncovered the higher-ed caper. Congratulations, Chester, as you embark on an exciting new journey! Remember to always wear sunscreen.