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What Does College Accreditation Mean?

When you are making the crucial decision on where you will be attending higher education, one of the most essential factors to consider is college accreditation. In short, accreditation can be defined as the process through which colleges and universities are evaluated based on their educational practices by a review board. In order to receive accreditation, colleges must meet or exceed a number of quality standards based on various criteria, such as objectives, admissions requirements, student services, faculty credentials, and overall mission. Therefore, accreditation is utilized as a significant indicator of whether a higher learning institution is providing the high-quality learning experiences that are needed for students to find success.

Regional vs. Specialized Accreditation

Since accreditatios can actually come in various different classifications, it is important that you understand the key differences in order to make a better informed decision on which college is the perfect match for you. When colleges decide to apply for regional accreditation, the institution will be assessed by a regional accrediting body that presides over its state. Under the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), there are six regional accrediting agencies throughout the United States that practice based on a section of the nation. On the other hand, specialized accreditation is based on a specific degree program through a college department. Since specialized accreditation is usually offered through professional organizations, these accrediting bodies give approval to programs that are following the standards needed to prepare students for a certain industry.

Importance of College Accreditation

In today’s competitive job market, it is becoming even more essential for students to build their educational experiences at a reputable college with accreditation. Not only will students be guaranteed a quality education that meets high standards, but they will also be granted a degree that will be more readily accepted by future employers or recruiters in their field. If you are ever considering transferring your credits or furthering your education in graduate school, accreditation also plays a prominent role in determining whether your previous credits can be transferred smoothly. Furthermore, you must be aware that schools that are not accredited through a regional accrediting body may not be eligible for federal financial aid. While the lower tuition rates may be appealing at unaccredited colleges, you may not qualify for many financial assistance or scholarship opportunities without proper accreditation.

How to Determine if a College is Accredited

Whether you are planning to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar university with on-campus courses or an online college with distance learning options, you are strongly encouraged to check credible sources to determine if the institution has been accredited to avoid the so-called “diploma mills.” Although most colleges will mention their accreditations right on their website, you may want to do some double-checking to further investigate the accrediting bodies responsible for evaluating the college. Be sure to take advantage of the valuable resource of the accreditation search available through the U.S. Department of Education to learn more about the academic regulations at your prospective colleges.

Overall, in order to avoid spending loads of tuition money on an unaccredited degree that will likely cause you significant challenges in the future, you must check all of your prospective traditional and online colleges for proper accreditation. When you choose an institution with appropriate college accreditation, you can rest assured that you will receiving a degree that will be respected by both other universities and future employers for a bright future!