July 14, 2011
Pedro* is from Cuba where he received the Titulo de Tecnica de nivel medio en Organizacion de la Produccion Industrial, a technical high school diploma, after completing the nivel medio superior (upper secondary/senior high school) cycle of education. Now he is applying for a job and his employer wants to know if he has the U.S. equivalent of an Associate or Bachelor’s degree. The employer refers Pedro to ACEI (Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute) to have his credentials evaluated.
As far as Pedro is concerned he believes his Diploma is equivalent to at least the Associate if not the Bachelor’s Degree. He has conveyed this to his prospective employer on the job application and is hoping that the academic evaluation will confirm his opinion.
A great many mistakes are made by those who do not have sufficient information about the age and personal history of the foreign student/job applicant whose application they are considering for college/university admission or for employment. Lack of information of the educational system, in this case Cuba, or having little or no experience with evaluating international credentials leads to even more serious mistakes.
The fact that Pedro’s Diploma uses language that to a person not versed with the vernacular of academic terms may appear to be advanced must not be the basis of accepting the credential on face value as equivalent to for example, a U.S. Bachelor’s or Associate degree. A credential evaluator, knowledgeable with the Cuban educational system knows that a person with only 15 years’ of age who has completed (at the minimum) 9th grade of junior high school is able to enter the program pursued by Pedro. This factor alone confirms that the level of the program Pedro completed cannot be compared with and measured against the Associate and/or Bachelor degree programs offered by accredited U.S. colleges and universities. In addition, Pedro’s Diploma allows him to apply for admission to the first year of undergraduate studies at institutions of higher learning in Cuba. This is another important factor ACEI considers when determining the level of a foreign academic program.
What can be said of Pedro’s studies is that he completed a secondary education program that combined academic along with technical studies preparing him mainly for a trade when he graduated from high school. So, just because the title of an international student’s or job applicant’s diploma may sound or appear to be unusual or different, one cannot automatically accept the award as, in Pedro’s case, equivalent to a university level degree.
*name has been changed to protect the individual’s privacy.
￼Jasmin S. Kuehnert
President & CEO ACEI, Inc.