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A Dispatch

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February 26, 2006

Diplomas for Dollars

It's no secret that a lot of people—including some in very high places—have, let's say, embellished their resumes to help them get ahead in their careers. Almost like clockwork, some executive or political mucky-muck is exposed for overstating his or her (although they seem mostly to be his) educational background. The CEO of Radio Shack was a recent victim of his own puffery.

Phony college degrees have provided an industry unto itself in the spam world. Some spam messages try to be coy about it. But not one that arrived today:

Subject: get the better job - buy a diploma today

And then the pitch:

WHAT A GREAT IDEA! We provide a concept that will allow anyone with sufficient life experience to obtain a fully verifiable university diploma.

Bachelor, Master or even a Doctorate.

Think of it, within a month you too could be a college graduate.

The only "it" I can think of is that you'd have to be a complete idiot to try to get away with a purchased diploma these days, especially if you intend to work at something other than a McJob.

When I was a kid, the teachers threatened you to behave by warning about black marks on your "permanent record." That, of course, was a complete crock.

But this is the 21st century, and the World Wide Web has become everyone's permanent record. Google, Yahoo, MSN, and others assist anyone and her uncle to peer into your permanent record (and that blog entry about how you got wasted the other night at that big party, and then drove home without getting caught by the cops, and then your roommates dressed you up in goofy clothes while you were passed out on the couch, and they posted the photo, and then...). When recruiters Google you and try to find a Web site for the source of your non-existent degree, they won't find any mention of Upper Weslyan University of Lower Slobovia, except perhaps at ftc.gov.

With nearly ubiquitous Internet access, search engines, the Wayback Machine, and free long distance telephone calls, those who want to look into your alleged background have enough tools at their fingertips to "out" you in short order.

Then you can add that to your resume.

Posted on February 26, 2006 at 12:26 PM