What Is Accreditation and Why Does It Matter When Selecting a College?
As with any major decision you make in life, it is important to first do your homework. When selecting a college or university, we recommend researching whether or not the school is accredited by an institution recognized by the US Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. By voluntarily subjecting themselves to a rigorous and independant evaluation, schools that obtain accreditation assure students that they are committed to continuous quality improvement. According to the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), a federally recognized accrediting agency, a schools accreditation status may be updated every three to eight years if they:
- Comply with rigorous standards;
- Develop and implement an Institutional Effectiveness Plan;
- Undergo an annual review of its financial stability, retention and placement rates;
- Undergo announced and unannounced site visits.
The U.S. Secretary of Education recognizes a number of national, regional and specialty accrediting agencies as "reliable authorities". Each of these reliable accrediting agencies and the quality of education or training offered by the institutions they accredit are regularly reviewed by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.
Why is accreditation important to you?
Accreditation is important because it:
- Helps determine if an college or university meets or exceeds minimum standards of quality;
- Helps students identify quality colleges or universities for enrollment;
- Helps schools determine their willingness to accept transfer credits;
- Enables employers to assess the validity of programs of study and whether a graduate is qualified. Employers often require degrees from an accredited schools or programs;
- Assists employers in evaluating an employee's eligibility for tuition reimbursement programs;
- Enables graduates to sit for certification examinations;
- Requires participation from staff, faculty, students, graduates, and advisory boards in the schools evaluation and planning;
- Assists the school in establishing goals for self-improvement;
- Creates a self-regulatory option for state oversight functions;
- Establishes a foundation for determining a student's eligibility for federal financial aid such as federal grants or loans.
Regardless of your field of study, when it comes to selecting the campus-based or online college that is right for you, we hope that the schools accreditation will be part of your selection criteria. We understand that pursuing higher education is not an inexpensive investment, but we believe enrolling in an accredited school or program is not a corner that should be cut.