It is impossible to overestimate the significance of accreditation in your education. Many people, however, are unaware of even the most fundamental aspects of the accreditation process. Before you choose a school, be sure you understand who accredits it and what that certification implies for your future. You’ll end up with a degree that employers don’t value if you don’t get accredited.
This article will help you make an informed decision when choosing a school by explaining how schools are recognized, who does the actual accreditation, and how accreditation works.
What Is Accreditation?
Accreditation is a procedure of evaluating educational programs to see if they meet certain quality requirements. Accreditation is not permanent; it must be renewed on a regular basis to ensure that the educational program’s quality is maintained.
Academic accreditation in the United States is optional, decentralized, and carried out by a variety of non-profit organizations. Academic accreditation is usually followed by an external quality review conducted by a group of academic or industry professionals. These specialists provide their time, expertise, and experience to the process of quality assurance and continuous development in respective fields of study. Accreditation may be required or governmental in other countries.
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Who Accredits Schools?
This question has a significant impact on your life. You must ensure that your school is accredited by a respected organization. The US government does not regulate accreditation and instead delegates the task to private organizations. Fake certifying agencies have sprung up all over the Internet as a result of the high number of fraudulent online institutions. Make sure you don’t fall into their trap. The US Secretary of Education recognizes and lists the agencies that are considered to be reputable accreditation authorities on the US Department of Education’s website. Checking that the agency that accredits your institution is on this list is the simplest approach to guarantee that the accreditation is valid.
If you live outside of the United States or are enrolled in a distance education program based there, be sure your school is accredited by a body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is the international authority on post-secondary accreditation, and it keeps a list of recognized agencies on its website.
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How Are Schools Accredited?
Accreditation agencies look for varied characteristics based on the type of school, and the majority of them specialize in specific types of educational institutions. Because of the vast differences in fields, a vocational culinary institute will confront different accreditation standards than a medical school residency program. All schools, however, are bound by some overarching accreditation standards that cut across fields and serve as the process’s foundation. For example, all accrediting authorities believe that schools must have a clearly stated mission that aspires to improve student education and service. Furthermore, all schools must demonstrate that they have the means to accomplish their objective, as well as evidence that the mission has been accomplished.
To ensure that accreditation standards are consistently maintained, practically all institutions must agree to periodic and unannounced external reviews as well as thorough internal review systems.
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What Does Accreditation Mean To Students?
Accreditation may appear to be unimportant to you as a student, yet nothing could be farther from reality. Employers assess the school you attended and if it is accredited by a reputable agency when you graduate and hunt for a career. Employers will doubt the authenticity of your degree and your potential as a competitive job candidate if it came from an institution with questionable accreditation. Furthermore, no school will accept transfer credits from an unaccredited university if you want to transfer to another college at any point during your academic career.
The Importance of Accreditation
If you want to achieve the career success you deserve, you must obtain a recognized degree. Outside agencies review a school’s programs to ensure that they meet relevant academic criteria. Employers can’t tell if your degree is from a legitimate college or a diploma mill—a company that delivers degrees in exchange for money and little academic work—if you don’t have accreditation. Because academic organizations are wary of degrees from non-accredited colleges, transferring credits from a non-accredited to an accredited institution can be challenging.
Are There Consequences of Attending an Unaccredited School Online?
Attending an unaccredited institution can have a variety of consequences depending on why a student enrolls in a course or program. However, if a student joins an unaccredited school, they will miss out on some benefits and risk graduating with a useless degree, diploma, or certificate, aside from any personal joy the student may gain from the achievement.
A student who attends an unaccredited school:
- Financial assistance from the state and federal governments, including grants and loans, will be excluded.
- The majority of private financial aid, especially scholarships, will be excluded.
- Any academic certificate received from an unaccredited institution may be overlooked or dismissed by employers.
- Will be enrolled in a school that does not receive any federal or state funding to assist in its operation.
- Academic credits earned at an unaccredited school may not be recognised by another school when transferring or applying for admission.
- They may face criminal or civil liability if they perform a profession without a license.
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How Can You Make Sure That Your School Of Choice Is Accredited?
Accreditation is a voluntary evaluation procedure that higher education institutions go through in order to maintain educational quality criteria agreed upon by members of an accrediting body. Accreditation reviews may entail self-study by the institution as well as peer institution evaluations by members of the same accrediting agency. In the United States, there are various accrediting agencies. The following are the most well-known accrediting agencies for schools and universities:
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
- North Central Association (NCA)
Institutional accreditation refers to the process of receiving accreditation from these (and other comparable) agencies. Furthermore, some occupations may necessitate the completion of specialized training programs. Specialized accreditation is usually reserved for professions such as law or nursing. The accrediting agency in this situation is a professional group that assesses a program’s efficacy in terms of how well it educates students to achieve specific professional requirements. Before enrolling in a school, students should establish if their chosen professional path necessitates accreditation by one of these specialist authorities.
Although the US Department of Education does not certify colleges and universities, it does keep track of accredited schools and accrediting agencies. This is a great area for students to start looking for information about accreditation for schools and programs. Another helpful source of information is the CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation). The CHEA does not accredit institutions, but it does provide information about accrediting agencies.
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Knowing your Accreditation Agencies
When looking into your school’s accreditation status, make sure the accreditation agency is accredited as well. Accreditation mills exist in the same way that diploma mills exist, providing useless certifications to schools. The websites of the US Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education both have a list of recognized accreditation agencies.
There might also be discrepancies between legitimate accreditation agencies. A certification from the Distance Education Training Council, for example, does not always imply that credits earned at that university will be transferable to other universities. If your school is DETC-certified and you plan to transfer to another university in the future, you should check the policy on accepting transfer credits at your target institution. Regional accreditation agencies, such as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, are the most generally acknowledged. These are the same organizations that accredit non-digital schools, and their accreditation is as widely regarded as it gets.
In today’s work environment, a degree is a huge plus. It will expand the number of jobs you can accomplish and the promotions you are qualified for by a factor of ten. Make sure you earn your degree from a recognized university if you want to realize the benefits of having one. For this reason, the US Department of Education has an easy-to-use search engine.
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What Happens When a College Loses Accreditation?
Accreditation is required for most colleges, universities, and even K-12 schools. Accreditation shows the general public, other institutions, and potential employers that graduates of accredited schools are well equipped and educated. As a result, when a school loses its accreditation status, its pupils may face certain severe consequences.
When a college, university, or vocational program loses its accreditation status, its students face a slew of additional consequences.
Students who were enrolled at the time of the accreditation loss will see the institution go down quickly. Because the federal government rarely provides financial aid to non-accredited post-secondary institutions, this is the case. The vast majority of these colleges rely substantially on financial aid, and the instant withdrawal of all government money will almost certainly result in the school’s bankruptcy.
Furthermore, if their school collapses due to a loss of accreditation, these students will have a difficult time finding another institution to finish their degree or program. While most colleges and universities would accept unaccredited high school students, they are less lenient of those who attended an unaccredited post-secondary institution.
If an unaccredited school manages to stay in business, its graduates will almost certainly have a difficult time finding work. Many firms refuse to recruit graduates from non-accredited institutions. Some firms in the medical industry refuse to accept graduates from unaccredited colleges because they fear they will lack proper training, making them a liability to the company.
Keep in mind, however, that if you graduated from a school that was accredited at the time you graduated and the school lost its accreditation after you finished, you are still considered an accredited graduate.
Can A Student Get Their Money Back If Their School’s Losses Accreditation?
Most students will not receive refunds if their school’s accreditation status is revoked. This is due to the fact that most schools and universities function as businesses, and you are investing in this business by paying for your education. If your school closes, they will be unable to reimburse any funds, and your investment will be regarded as a loss.
However, depending on how and why accreditation was lost, some state post-secondary institutions may repay funds in rare situations. These institutions would be refunded with government funds.
Can A School Without Accreditation Be Sued?
You are, once again, willingly investing in your post-secondary institution by paying for an education. Your investment is regarded as poor if your institution loses its accreditation and goes bankrupt, but this is not usually enough to justify a lawsuit.
There have been a few uncommon incidents of students suing their school for a loss of accreditation, but these are usually class action lawsuits involving fraudulent activities on the side of the school. For example, 58 former nursing students were successful in their lawsuit against Virginia Western Community College after the school lied about losing its accrediting status.
In conclusion, when a post-secondary institution loses its accreditation, current students face severe consequences. The best course of action is to conduct extensive research on any institutions you’re considering attending and select one that is unlikely to lose its accreditation status in the future.
Accreditation guarantees that institutions or programs meet certain criteria, although it does not necessarily guarantee complete quality. As a result, when investigating colleges, students should always prioritize accreditation status while also taking into account a range of other aspects. Consider graduation and retention statistics, job placement rates, and test pass rates, as well as current student feedback.
Frequently Asked Questions
When a college, university, or vocational program loses its accreditation status, its students face a slew of additional consequences.
Accreditation is a procedure of evaluating educational programs to see if they meet certain quality requirements.
Accreditation may appear to be unimportant to you as a student, yet nothing could be farther from reality. Employers assess the school you attended and if it is accredited by a reputable agency when you graduate and hunt for a career.