Call Us Toll Free Call us: 1-855-225-1006

To Speak With a College Advisor. It's free.

Accreditation & Why It's Important

By Leigh Goessl, DegreeMatch.com
Staff Writer

Once you find the perfect college, you want to make sure it's accredited.




Heading off to college is a major milestone in life. Higher education can help shape your future, and the college you select plays a prominent role in your educational journey. You'll want to choose a school that offers the degree program that will help you land a job in your chosen field, and one that is accredited by a recognized third-party agency. When narrowing down college options, choose a school that offers degree programs that will be respected by prospective employers.

What is accreditation?

In higher education, accreditation is a process that evaluates public accountability and academic quality. In this process, a college is evaluated by an outside agency that assesses the level of excellence.

According to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, there are three major components of the accreditation process. The first is an internal audit, completed through the use of the accrediting agency's guidelines. The second is a team of peers, selected by the accrediting agency, which visits the campus, conducts interviews, and writes up an evaluation and recommendation. Third, guided by a level of expectation about quality and integrity, the commission will approve the recommendation and make a judgment on whether or not the college has met standards criteria.

Why is accreditation so important?

Accreditation provides a level of validity. Once a college is accredited, it has been verified by an independent agency to meet a certain quality standard. Some institutions of higher education may not be up to standard. Examples are diploma mills or "scam" schools. By searching accredited schools, students can ensure they pick a college that meets accreditation standards, and not waste time or money money on a substandard institution. Also, whether or not a school is accredited may impact eligibility for financial aid.

When you choose an accredited school, be sure to look at who the accrediting agency is, as you want to make sure it is recognized. When examining accreditation, also be careful of accreditation mills. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation lists some red flags that may mean the college is questionable or the accreditation was not earned legitimately.

Problems with choosing a non-accredited college

Attending a non-accredited college could result in problems down the road and impact your career. For instance, if you choose a school that does not have a solid accreditation, it could mean the difference between landing the job and losing out to someone else. Additionally, if you are looking to continue your education at a higher level, transferring credits from a school that did not go through the traditional accreditation process could be an issue.

During the search process it is a good idea to make sure the schools where you're applying are accredited and reputable. You can search the U.S. Department of Education website for a list. After graduation you want your degree to be recognized. By selecting a highly regarded college, you can ensure your that your hard work and money spent on your degree program will have value after you graduate.



Last edited: October 31, 2011, 6:37 pm EST
   
Advance Your Career With the Right Degree

Advance your career with the right degree.

The perfect school match in seconds