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Why Choosing an Accredited School or Program Matters to Your Future

When searching for a new college to attend either online or offline the question of accreditation is bound to come up. (If it doesn’t come up, it should!) Many recent high school graduates are unfamiliar with the term accreditation or don't realize the impact that attending a non-accredited college or university can have on their future.

In this article we're,e going to discuss the importance of accreditation, what it is, and why it matters for recent high school graduates and college students.

What Accreditation Means

Accreditation means that a business or organization has applied for accreditation in the appropriate region. An accredited school has met the required standards set for their industry to hold the accreditation.

Holding accreditation indicates that either the full institution itself or programs that it offers has been deemed qualified to provide services (within their industry) according to the accrediting body standards. In the case of higher education, choosing an accredited school is one of the best things that you can do for your future.

According to the US Department of Education, "Accreditation is the recognition that an institution maintains standards requisite for its graduates to gain admission to other reputable institutions of higher learning or to achieve credentials for professional practice."

Colleges and universities (both online degree programs and traditional) are eligible to receive accreditation that covers the entire Institution itself or a particular program that they are offering.

These two types of accreditation are referred to as "Institutional" or "Specialized”.

Schools aren't just "given" accreditation. They are required to apply, qualify, and maintain required standards to keep their accreditations active. This means that they earned their status.

Why Accreditation Matters for Students

When choosing a degree program it's critical to be sure of whether (or not) the school that you've chosen is accredited.

Here are a few reasons why:

Imagine that you've completed a full (4) year degree program and you're ready to start your career in your area of expertise.

Now imagine that you find yourself unable to find work with a reputable company because the school that you attended had no accreditation.

Not exactly the outcome that you planned for, right?

This is exactly what can happen if you choose to attend a college or university that has no accreditation. Companies and brands have no way to verify the validity of your study.

Tip: Reputable companies and brands prefer to hire candidates that have attended an accredited school or program.

For the reasons stated above, you don't want to go to just "any" school. You want to go to the school that is going to propel you forward towards reaching the goals that you've set for yourself.

The scenario above can easily apply if you choose to attend a non-accredited school or program.

Some of the pitfalls of attending non-accredited schools:

  • Unable to find work in your degree area 
  • Unable to transfer credits to another school
  • The possibility of having to start over if either of the above happens.
  • In both cases, this means the unthinkable. You'll have to start all over again. 
  • Accredited schools and programs are more likely to help you to achieve your planned goals than their non-accredited counterparts. 
This is not to say that non-accredited schools are unable to provide an awesome education because many are. However, accredited schools have taken the extra effort to demonstrate their commitment to providing quality education by seeking and maintaining their accredited status. 

Who Accredits Colleges and Universities

Key accrediting bodies for education including K-12 and college and university degree programs are: 
  • The Higher Learning Commission
  • The Western Association for Schools and Colleges
  • The Distance Education Accrediting Commission

The Higher Learning Commission

Provides regionally accreditation for institutions of higher learning. The HLC also maintains standards and policies for colleges and universities within their region.

The Western Association for Schools and Colleges

Provides accreditation for K-12 schools that are not-for-profit and don't grant degrees.

The Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Provides accreditation for Distance Education programs up to Doctoral degree programs for higher learning institutions.

The above are examples of accrediting bodies that offer institutional accreditation. (Remember that institutional accreditation covers the entire "institution" and not a specific area or program.)

Specialized or Programmatic Accreditation covers a speciality or program only, not the entire school.

To learn more about these accrediting bodies and what schools are covered, visit their website for details. If you're wondering if the school that you've chosen to attend is accredited (and in good standing) this is a great place to start!

Now that we've gone over the value of choosing an accredited school, hopefully, you understand the importance of choosing a school that has gone above and beyond what's required as proof of their commitment to education excellence, vs. a school that hasn't taken the steps to become accredited.

Which route will you choose for "your" future?

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