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I Cheated My Way Through High School Last Week

Categories: News
GusDiploma.jpg
And yes, my legal first name is Geoffrey.
Like thousands of local students, I graduated from high school last week. But I cheated -- by having elementary and junior high school kids do my work for me.

Two Thursdays ago, I called the phone number -- 305-716-0909 -- listed on a sign, reading simply "High School Diploma", that I spotted tied to a downtown street post. Last Friday, after completing five take-home tests and forking over $399, I was given the pictured diploma and a transcript full of four full grades of classes I didn't complete.

InterAmerican Christian Academy, the "high school" -- actually an office in Doral -- that gave me the diploma may be educationally without merit, but that doesn't mean its diplomas and transcripts aren't accepted by local institutions of higher education. Miami Dade College, according to its registrar, has accepted 88 InterAmerican graduates in the seventeen months it's been churning out diplomas.

InterAmerican's administrators didn't know that their new 28-year-old student was a reporter -- and they also didn't know that I gave their tests to five public school children aged 8 through 13. I copied their answers, and apparently passed handily.

I've embedded the tests, along with the transcript I received at graduation, below. The tests composed the academy's entire curriculum. I'm pretty sure I didn't take Advanced Spanish, or "Bussiness", or "Professional Porfolio".

My favorite test is the English Literature exam, completed by an 8-year-old girl. As reference material, the academy had given me a four-page summary of The Old Man and the Sea. My iCarly-loving volunteer named the author, identified the main character, and explains the novel's conflict thusly:

The conflict of this story is Santiago tries to catch a fish, for eighty-four days. But Santiago gets a fish but it tries to run away from him going northwest. He tries to pull the fish back. The other conflict is Santiago tries to fight his old age.

On my transcript, I was given an 'A' in English Literature. She's a bright 8 year old, to be sure, but InterAmerican's tests make the GED look like a bar exam.

But in Florida -- where private schools are among the least regulated in the nation -- there's nothing particularly illegal about operating an apparent diploma mill. "If a school like that exists," Cheryl Etters of the Department of Education told me, "we might know about it, but we can't really do anything."

The full story of my one-week odyssey through bogus academia will be published in the upcoming issue of New Times.

Inter American

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19 comments
High School Diploma
High School Diploma

According to the record, Miami Dade College has accepted 17 months in 88 Pan-American graduates. It is quite interesting and thanks for sharing.

coacht
coacht

Gus, take it a step further.  How are those 88 community college students doing at Miami-Dade compared to the students that went to a "real" HS?  I'd be interested to know if they're actually performing any worse than the publicly educated student body.

Vanessa Benitez
Vanessa Benitez

Great reporting, interesting story…Silly me for actually wasting four years of my life at Palmetto! ;)

Noy
Noy

Looking forward to the full story as well. Reminds of me of "College Inc" the documentary on For-Profit colleges (Check out here if you've got an hour or so: http://video.pbs.org/video/148... had a few friends who followed up on high school by attending Devry, Art Institute and even full sail. They each owe 60k or above now and are two years unemployed after graduation. Sad story bro.

InterAmerican Graduate
InterAmerican Graduate

I graduated from there and was able to attend Miami Dade and obtain my Associates. It's not all bad. And I doubt that an 8 year old took this. 

Darrin E McGillis
Darrin E McGillis

I'm wondering how 88 people got into college with a fake diploma?

Howie
Howie

Dude, Gus, you're really slacking in math. Totally bringing down your GPA. How do you expect to get into a totally fake college with behavior like that, young man?

bigken79
bigken79

Good work Gus. My younger brother got the same type of diploma after dropping out and swears it's a real high school education. Laughable at best.

nevernot
nevernot

And what we have here is the result of our voucher program. Taking money from public schools so criminals can release false diplomas to anyone with a few bucks.

anon_e_m00se
anon_e_m00se

I'm wondering if they created their own accrediting organization, "Transworld Accrediting Commission," or if that's another scammer-led service.

Amakoman2001
Amakoman2001

What are you a moron? Or a 7 year old. I could tell it was a scam before i walked into their office in Kendall.

GusGarciaRoberts
GusGarciaRoberts

Still though, a 3.41 GPA is a hell of a lot higher than what I got in real high school.

anon_e_m00se
anon_e_m00se

The worst part being what you've shown in your reply: the scumbags are tricking people that these are "real" diplomas. Of course some people applying for these types of degrees are somewhat culpable thinking they can circumvent the GED process and do it the easy way, but I know there are people who genuinely get scammed by these people.

GusGarciaRoberts
GusGarciaRoberts

Yep, that's exactly where I'm eventually going with this with stories to come. The combination of govt. cash and no oversight has created a cottage industry for scammers.

Guest
Guest

blame Republicans.

GusGarciaRoberts
GusGarciaRoberts

It's a separate organization, but dubious as well. That's explained in the full story.

anon_e_m00se
anon_e_m00se

Nice... looking forward to reading the whole story.

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