Do you know how to find out what your school's accreditations are?

Just because you attend college or university doesn’t mean that you’re receiving a quality education, one that hiring managers and top postsecondary schools respect.  To ensure that the credits you earn at school can be transferred to other colleges and universities and to ensure that your degrees gain you quality employment with companies you want to work at, check to make sure that the college or university you attend is accredited.

Professional, regional and national education organizations like the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges accredit new and established postsecondary schools.  Generally the review process for the schools can take several weeks to several months.  During the accreditation review process various items at a college or university are examined by members of the accreditation board.  Basic items that board members review and examine before they determine whether or not the postsecondary school meets their accreditation guidelines are the schools:

  • Budget (e.g. overhead costs, profits, sources of income and revenue)
  • Accounting systems (e.g. tools that colleges and universities use to manage and report their finances to federal, state and local agencies)
  • Credentials that members of the postsecondary school’s administration team possess
  • Licensing requirements for professors
  • Curriculum details including courses and topics covered in each college or university course
  • Degree offered at the school (e.g. associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, doctorate)
  • Housing available for students to reside in
  • Enrollment (whether or not the school accepts international and/or out-of-state students)
  • Physical structure of the college or university (e.g. numbers of buildings on the campus)
  • Grading scale (e.g. 96 to 100 is an A)
  • Retention and graduation rates (measurement of the school’s success)

 Accreditation organizations might also check to see if postsecondary schools offer honors courses as well as review the admissions requirements for the courses as well as the numbers of students who take and pass the courses.  An area that some colleges and universities fail during the accreditation process is the budgeting or accounting process.  By checking a school’s accreditation you can save yourself the time and money of completing coursework and paying tuition only to discover two to three years into your postsecondary studies that the college or university no longer has the funds to continue to operate. 

What It Costs You When You Attend Non-Accredited Postsecondary Schools

If the school wasn’t already accredited and you took out student loans to pay for your education, you’ll still be responsible for paying the loans off.  In addition, should you try to transfer to an accredited college or university you might be told by an admissions counselor at the school that the credits you earned at the previous, unaccredited educational institution, are not accepted, causing you to have to start over or decide to forego fulfilling your dream of getting a postsecondary degree.

Therefore, before you enroll in a college or university, regardless of whether it’s a technical school or two or four-year institution, be sure to check the college’s accreditation.  You can generally find this information:

  • On the school’s website under the “accreditation” or ‘”about us” page; if you don’t see it there, ask the admissions counselor to tell you where it’s located.
  • At the front or back of the college or university catalog or admissions brochure
  • FAQ pages at college and university websites

You can also contact accreditation organizations in the region where colleges and universities are located to ask if the schools are accredited.  The United States Department of Education also list accredited postsecondary schools at its website under “Accreditation in the United States.” 

In addition to gaining their initial accreditation, postsecondary schools (both public and private) must renew their accreditations after a certain number of years.  Colleges and universities also get accredited by professional organizations so they can teach certain courses (e.g. nursing, accounting).  These accreditations are listed on college and university websites and in their brochures and catalogs.

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