10 Things You Didn’t Know About Education Verifications

April 12, 2018
Andrea Bishop
Find me on:

Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes

Education-verifications_website

  • Some schools require all education verification requests to be sent via postal mail with a money order, while some schools utilize third party services such as “Parchment” and “Need-My-Transcript” for reporting records.
  • Approximately 35% of employers admit they do not conduct global background checks for applicants who report international education and employment.
  • Some schools refuse to report that a degree has been earned if the applicant has an outstanding balance, or a financial hold.
  • Some schools choose to keep certificate records separately from traditional degrees, and the specific department must be contacted to verify.
  • Some schools even require a copy of the applicant’s current driver’s license in order to release records

Verifications are time consuming, confusing, and frustrating at times. It can be so difficult to figure out who you need to contact for records! After you’ve determined who you need to contact, you have to find a way to get the person to return your call and provide the verification. Education verifications have their own unique set of issues that can arise that are different than issues you may experience with employment verifications.

 

1.There is not a universal standard for record-keeping and reporting education records to third parties.

In this case, “third party” refers to anyone requesting an education record who is not the actual student. When requesting education records, you’re at the mercy of the school. Each school can determine the process that works best for them. Some schools require all education verification requests to be sent via postal mail with a money order, while some schools utilize third party services such as “Parchment” and “Need-My-Transcript” for reporting records. What ever the process may be, if you don’t follow the requirements set forth by the school, your request will likely be ignored or forgotten.

 

2.Education attained internationally can and should be verified!

Approximately 35% of employers admit they do not conduct global background checks for applicants who report international education and employment. Why? We can only guess, but it probably has a lot to do with the amount of time and money it takes to complete international verifications. It can also be very difficult to know where to begin because each country has its own set of rules regarding privacy. Employers should partner with a reputable background screening provider to help them navigate international verifications. Validity Screening Solutions offers an international verification service that comes with a team of international verification experts who know what documentation needs to be gathered, who to send the documentation to, and how to interpret results.

 

3.A financial hold on a student’s account can prevent a college degree from being confirmed and reported to the National Student Clearinghouse.

The National Student Clearinghouse partners with thousands of accredited higher education institutions throughout the country to provide degree verification services. However, the National Student Clearinghouse database of information is not free of error. Some schools refuse to report that a degree has been earned if the applicant has an outstanding balance, or a financial hold. The last thing you want to do is turn an honest applicant away over a financial hold or record keeping error. A good background screening provider will follow up with the school to confirm all “no record” results to ensure the information being reported by the school is accurate. If you’re completing education verifications on your own, you must conduct your own follow up before assuming the applicant is being dishonest. 

 

4.Education verifications can be delayed during certain times of the year. 

You know how everyone is jealous of the holidays and breaks that teachers get throughout their working year? Well, the traditional school schedule can cause a hefty delay when trying to complete education verifications. High schools and universities are typically closed for all major holidays, in addition to random conference days throughout the year, extended semester breaks, and summer break. In addition, many high schools throughout the country are battling funding issues. It takes time and “man power” to respond to education verification requests, and some schools are unable to provide results in a timely manner.

 

5.Unaccredited schools still exist, and they’re still sneaky.

While many changes have been made to prevent predatory/for-profit colleges from taking advantage of students, there are still some unaccredited schools hanging around. The United States Department of Education’s website has a search feature that can be used to locate a university or college’s current accreditation status. Your background screening provider should be checking the accreditation status for you when performing education verifications. If you aren’t sure if your current background screening provider is checking for accreditation, it is time to ask. If you aren’t satisfied with the answer, it’s time for a new provider!

 

6.Discrepancies in dates of attendance aren’t always a big deal.

If you’ve ever completed an education verification yourself, you know that the dates of attendance reported by the applicant are not always the same dates of attendance that the school has on record. Does this mean that the applicant is being deceptive? Not necessarily. We notice dates of attendance discrepancies commonly with college degree verifications. Sometimes, the applicant fulfilled all degree requirements and finished classes during one semester but the degree was not officially finalized by the school until the end of the following semester. The applicant may think they earned their degree in December because they finished classes in December, but if the school does not award degrees until May, the graduation date for the applicant will be in May. If the dates of attendance reported by the applicant are discrepant by more than six months, it’s a good idea to ask the applicant for further clarification.

 

Free eBook:

Compliant Background Screening Practices
The Companion Guide

The topic of Background Checks is a tricky labyrinth to navigate these days. Let us help with the directions.

Get the eBook »

 

7. Applicant provided documentation must be verified by the degree/diploma awarding institution.

Applicants are sometimes willing to offer a copy of the diploma that they have earned and employers accept this as an alternative to completing official education verifications. If this is the way your company is currently “checking” for education, you might want to think again. There are currently several different websites/companies that offer fake diplomas, fake references, and even fake employer contacts to help applicants avoid negative results on their background check. These types of websites are easy to find, and employers must be cautious about accepting applicant provided documentation. If the attending school cannot (or is unwilling) to verify the authenticity of the diploma/documentation provided by the applicant, that is a major red flag.

 

8.Not all high school education verifications are the same. 

High school diplomas are awarded by the high school attended by the applicant after the applicant has earned enough credits to qualify for graduation, while GED (General Education Development) diplomas are awarded and overseen by the state in which the GED test was taken. It’s usually impossible to verify the dates that an applicant spent homeschooling, because the verification would have to be provided by the applicant’s parent. However, it is possible to verify if the applicant completed and passed the GED exam after being homeschooled.

 

9.Certificates and degrees are not the same.

Verifying certificates earned through a college or vocational program can be a time consuming process. Some schools choose to keep certificate records separately from traditional degrees, and the specific department must be contacted to verify. It can be very difficult to track down the appropriate contact at the school and sometimes special forms must be completed by the applicant before the school will release any information about the certificate.

 

10.Some schools require a special form and/or a special release to accompany education verification requests.

Some schools even require a copy of the applicant’s current driver’s license in order to release records. You never know what a school requires until you make contact with them and ask. While many schools are willing to accept generic releases of information that the applicant has signed, other schools prefer to provide their own release and require a pen-to-paper signature from the applicant before any record can be released. A good background screening provider will help you navigate this situation by contacting the school and working with the applicant to meet the school’s requirements.

Education verifications should be completed for anyone that you are interested in bringing in to your company. It’s a tricky and time consuming process, but it’s worth it. We can all learn from the embarrassing and costly mistakes that employers have made in failing to thoroughly check into an employee’s educational history. For example, a group of high school students in southeastern Kansas were curious about a new principal that was being brought into their school. The students researched the credentials claimed by the new principal, and they discovered that the principal did not actually earn a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree as the principal had claimed. The principal was not qualified for her position, and she resigned. The school district involved failed to do their due diligence in this case, and the district’s reputation has been damaged as a result.  Education verifications are tough, but more than manageable when you consider the alternative nightmare that the mentioned school district  had to deal with.

 

Closing Thoughts

Want to learn more on this topic? Well Check out our podcast episode “What You Probably Didn't Know About Education Verification”, below, where Robert Sanders and I discuss education verification and just how little people know. We’d also love to know what you think, or answer any questions you may have. So please leave a comment below to tell us your thoughts. If you have any questions, please email me at abishop@validityscreening.com. And for more great blogs and content please subscribe to our blogs here.

Topics: Background Checks



Andrea Bishop

Written by Andrea Bishop

Andrea is our Verification Unit Supervisor. She supervises a remote team of Verification Specialists who complete employment verifications, education verifications, credential/professional license verifications, Department of Transportation record requests, and personal/professional references. She’s a team player and a bonafide expert in all things “verifications.”