Most universities become diploma mills
As a hiring manager, is there a good way of identifying a college as a “diploma mill”?
Honestly, I'm not sure your best bet is simply to try and weed out "graduate mills," which definition is schools that are only interested in taking a student's money and giving a piece of paper . My thought is that even if college is good in one area, it can be terrible in another, and what you really want are two pools of schools:
1 - Great sources for candidates
2 - Bad candidate sources
I suspect you've already found cases of "great candidate sources" - as that's not the focus of the question.
So on to "poor candidate sources"
Publicly accepted ratings:
Certainly a good one - if Princeton Review, Forbes, US News, and the NY Times all rate a school as low, you probably have a pretty bad program - but keep your research updated and find out about the low-rated schools year by year. Things can change.
For example, linking to makes it fairly easy to see the résumés of others who have attended the school and program. If no one from this school has ever worked in the position you are applying for, you have reason to be in doubt.
I've actually done this when there is any confusion about what type of Institute of Technology a person is from. As an example, there are two schools that I am familiar with:
Wentworth Institute of Technology - an absolutely solid professional school. I believe it is accredited to give BAs or BSes, but the main purpose of the school is to get people into professional-technical careers - electricians, not electrical engineers. But there is an EE program and possibly a CE program.
Rochester Institute of Technology - my graduate. :) - a primarily 4 year school with thesis options, both MS and PhD - that has a strong focus on engineering and science programs and has a reputation for producing engineers willing and able to work in their field work. Produced degrees in various forms of math, computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering and many others. No degrees in electronics. It may have an associate program, but that's not the main focus.
Both are good schools - for their focus. Both have very similar names. Both have been around for a while and they have a good reputation. Interestingly, both may even use very similar language - "real world experience", "practical skills", "ready to work after graduation", "high employment rate" are likely part of both schools' adverts.
However, if you look at Linked In or do other graduate searches, you will find an entirely different profile. Those who went to Wentworth worked in professions, those who went to Rochester worked in engineering, academic research, or other STEM professions.
Results of time with candidates
In my opinion, this is probably the best way to find out. A short 30 minute phone screen asking the candidate about their program gives you an inside view that may be faster than half an hour of web crawling.
Most recruiters I've worked with as a hiring manager base their judgments on this part of the process. I have often said - why did you refuse that? And the answer is, "I spoke to three people from this school recently and they have never done internships and they don't have the X background we expected - and the last time we hired someone from there they were fired." in 6 months for not doing the job well ".
For me, that's the biggest reason to have a recruiter to work with - they have the time to find out the knowledge.
Sort the pile
The approach I most support a hiring process is to think of it as a stack or a series of stacks that grow in size over time - much like working from the top of a pyramid to the bottom.
A bad school or resume (bad grades, bad work experience, etc.) - is not necessarily a reason to say "no", but it is a reason to put the resume lower down the pyramid. The top of the pyramid are those resumes that have the most traits of good candidates - good schools, good grades, good experience, personal recommendations, and so on. From there it goes downhill.
This approach puts the entire resume of schools you have never heard of in the middle / bottom of the stack. The schools you know are pushing the resume up the stack. The goal is really to have a first layer of resumes that is most likely to give a good result from the time spent on interviews.
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