Board launches education resource

By Andy Seifert

High school students overwhelmed with the task of choosing the right college have a new source of information –

Illinois Board of Higher Education last month launched, a new Web site designed to give prospective college students information on the 181 higher education institutions in Illinois.

“(The site is) for somebody who needs a primer on what higher education is all about and who may not understand all the arcane language that colleges and universities often use,” said Don Sevener, director of external relations of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Sevener said two important topics on the site were showing consumers how accreditation is different from state approval of programs, and to help consumers avoid being victimized by “diploma mills,” a term used to describe an institution that is not accredited and that operates primarily to make money.

“(A diploma mill is) a place where you can, for hundreds of dollars, purchase a degree without doing anything to earn it,” Sevener said.

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The site challenges consumers to ask questions when determining whether or not a school is a diploma mill, such as “Can the degree be purchased?” and “Is little, if any, attendance required of students?”

According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, 799,876 students enrolled in an Illinois higher education institution for fall 2005. Of that number, 202,236 students enrolled in one of Illinois’ nine public universities.

The site offers resources such as tips as to how to finance an education, statistics about each of the public schools in Illinois and information about the different types of degrees and programs offered at certain schools.

Sevener said the site is a good tool, but that other college Web sites should be researched as well.

“I think this is a good starting point,” Sevener said. “It’s probably not the end-all and be-all for all students, but it’s a good place to get acquainted with higher education and find out some links that will take you to places where you can apply for college.”

Zach Ong, graduate student, said he rarely used the Internet when he was making a decision on where to go to school, but that he would have used them if the resources were available.

“I would use it to see my options, but I’m not going to use it to decide where I’m going to,” Ong said.

Josh Roberts, sophomore in Communications, used the Internet to learn about certain schools, but refrained from applying online.

“I went to and certain university sites in the state of Illinois, just checking them out,” Roberts said. “My high school didn’t make us aware of applying online. Most people, I think, prefer to send in a hard copy of applications rather than to apply online.”