An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

We occasionally run across an expression such as “growing by degrees” or even “learning by degrees.” Lately, I’ve been getting e-mails from a scam outfit that urge me to “buy degrees.” I suspect I’m not alone.

The email claims that college degrees are easy to buy, and expresses dismay that many students continue to “just sit around in their usually boring local University classes, wasting money.”

It goes on to suggest that I might buy a degree by verifying my life or work experience and “get all the documents like the diploma certificate with the University’s legal verification and official seal certifying the degree chosen, the transcript, a cover letter, copies of the College’s or University’s official certificate of accreditation, the institutions postal prospectus approval and a few important things more.”

You will note that the sentence structure does not appear to be that of a college graduate, or of someone whose first language is English. Not only is the possessive form of “institution” missing its apostrophe, but the writer assures us that we will get its “postal prospectus approval.”

Does anyone know what a college’s “postal prospectus approval” is? Did you get one when you earned your degree the old, boring, money-wasting way?

Later, the e-mail even misspells the word “cheese” while admonishing me that my hard-earned legitimate education cost me “tons of cheeze.” It doesn’t take a college degree to tell when something smells, and I’m not talking about a hunk of Limburger.

Since “students” can get “the degree you want” by “verifying life experience,” I wonder if some will choose Bachelor of Beer, Masters of Meandering, or Doctor of Dithering degrees. Pondering the possibilities could keep a virtual class going for hours.

We’ve long had diploma mills selling worthless paper to people who think it means something to buy a degree. Religious “schools” are some of the worst offenders, and often give “life experience” credit in exchange for a credit card number. I know of pastors who brazenly call themselves “Dr.” when all they have is an “honorary” degree from a flimflam school that tries to gain credibility by showing up on the famous preacher’s resume.

I love education earned in the traditional way, though I’m fully aware that some of our most educational experiences don’t come from schools or award degrees that can hang on the wall.

Those who have real educations don’t need the crutch of a degree that cost them nothing more than a phone call to a mysterious New York City number and a few hundred bucks.

Those who get suckered in to such a scam — perhaps thinking a fake degree will help them get a job or improve their lives — are bound to learn a hard lesson. Let’s hope they find it worth the price — or else get smart before they put the check in the mail.

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