College Accreditation: Why It Matters

community collegeCollege is a major investment for most families and understanding accreditation should be a basic step in the process of decision making. Homeschool parents must take time to understand the different types of college accreditation and what they mean for students.

Look for Regional College Accreditation

While national accreditation may sound more impressive it is not what we are looking for. Regional accreditation is the gold standard for college accreditation. Most nonprofit public and private colleges and universities are regionally accredited. National accreditation, on the other hand, is more often found at for-profit, technical schools.

Three Reasons Why College Accreditation Matters

Demonstrates Quality: Appropriately accredited colleges are seen to have been judged by a higher standard. This means your degree will carry more weight than it does from a school that doesn’t carry accreditation. Regional accreditation has higher criteria for judging curriculum, faculty, and facilities such as libraries.

Transfer of credits: Credits from regionally accredited institutions are much more likely to be accepted for transfer credit. While most students don’t plan to transfer when they first enroll in a four year institution, the reality is that many students will ultimately transfer or complete their degree at another institution. Credits earned at a school that is not regionally accredited may end up being worthless. Without proper school accreditation, a student may have invested thousands of dollars and several years of their life, only to find their credits cannot be transferred.

When college evaluate whether they should offer transfer credit, the accreditation of the college where the credits were earned is a major consideration.  In a survey by the U.S. General Accounting Office, 63% of institutions said they would accept for transfer any credit earned at a regionally accredited school, but only 14% would for credits from a nationally accredited school.

Graduate school: Students who have degrees from for profit, nationally accredited schools, may find it difficult to be accepted into graduate school or professional school. While graduate school may seem a long way off for students entering college, it is always smart planning to options open. As many adults who have faced midlife career change have experienced, life can be unpredictable.

Bottom line

Choose institutions with regional accreditation from one of the accrediting agencies listed below.

  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Northwest Accreditation Commission
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

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