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Oreo the Cat Earns Online Diploma

By Nadia Foss, Educator

The Better Business Bureau is investigating online diploma mills. These websites offer quick and easy "online high school diplomas" or "online GEDs" if you take an online test (for a fee, of course). So, how easy is it?

Oreo C. Collins, a black and white cat from Macon, Georgia, owned by Kevin Collins, CEO of Georgia's Better Business Bureau, earned a "high school diploma" from a diploma website. Though Oreo had a little help answering the online quiz, the diploma mill apparently had no qualms about issuing a "high school diploma" to a feline—for a fee, of course.

Oreo's story highlights a growing problem on the Internet. Dozens of websites offer a "high school diploma" or "online GED" for taking an online test or based on "life experience."

In reality, you cannot take your GED test, HiSET exam, or TASC test online. Unlike the test that Oreo took, legitimate high school equivalency (HSE) exams requires the test-taker to prove their identity and show their skills in a set of four or five comprehensive subject exams. Passing an HSE test is a real accomplishment, unlike the fraudulent "high school diploma" that Oreo earned.

Employers, colleges, and government agencies don't accept "diplomas" bought through online sites where the only requirement is an online test or life experience. Why? For the same reasons taking an HSE test online is not allowed: because a cat can go online and buy that kind of diploma. At Essential Education, which offers online GED, HiSET, and TASC classes that prepare you for the real test, we hear a lot of stories from people who spent hundreds of dollars on a "high school diploma" or "online GED" from a website, only to find out it was worthless.

John, from Lynbrook, New York, wanted to become a cop. He bought a "diploma" from a website, not realizing that they were only selling him a piece of paper. He found out that colleges and employers wouldn't take it. Kimberly, the mother of two boys, was working at a school. She bought a "diploma" online for her job, only to find out that it was no good. She lost her job because she didn't have an accepted high school equivalency diploma.

In contrast, taking online classes is a quick and easy way to earn a diploma that's worth a lot. The actual HSE test is taken at one of the many official test center locations. After passing the test, you are awarded a high school equivalency certificate by your state department of education. Find local information about the test in your state or province.

A state-issued high school equivalency diploma is accepted by almost all U.S. employers and colleges, including the U.S. military and police forces around the country. The American Council on Education (ACE) GED Testing Service®, the organization that develops the GED test, warns against fraudulent online "diplomas," which cost unsuspecting people between $200 and $1,200, but are worth nothing.

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Oreo the Cat Earns Online Diploma by Nadia Foss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United Stated License, redistribution of this article is allowed under the following terms outlined here.

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