One of the most important things you should look for in a college, apart from programs and tuition, is accreditation. Why is accreditation so important? Accreditation signifies that the institution is imparting quality education of a high standard and is following certain standard procedures as laid down by the accrediting body.
There are organizations which evaluate colleges and universities through peer review and regulatory procedures. Accreditation is a standard which is accepted by other colleges, universities, and institutes of higher learning. Accreditation also implies that the coursework and degrees of the college are recognized by other colleges and universities. Apart from judging the quality of education a student will receive, accreditation also affects future employment prospects. Accreditation is a benchmark by which employers judge the quality of education a student has earned through a college. Degrees from non-accredited colleges, which are commonly referred to as diploma mills, are not recognized by employers.
Accreditation is a voluntary process. There are agencies which develop and lay down the criteria and carry out the evaluation procedures to determine whether or not colleges meet the established criteria. How do you know that the agency that is conferring the accreditation is not a sham? The accrediting body must be reputed and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) and the U.S. Department of Education maintain a database of colleges and universities that are accredited by approved bodies.
There are two types of accreditation, regional and national. Both types of accreditation are legally accepted and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Credits can be transferred from regionally accredited colleges to national accredited colleges, but regionally accredited colleges do not accept credits from nationally accredited colleges. Some specialized programs are also accredited by special accrediting agencies, and these are independent of the institutional accreditation of the parent college that offers the accredited program.
To know if a college is accredited by a recognized agency, you can visit its website or check the accreditation information on the website of the Department of Education. Take CollegeAmerica for instance. The college offers quality postsecondary education in the fields of healthcare, business, graphic arts, and IT. The programs are designed keeping in mind the current job market. You can verify CollegeAmerica accreditation by visiting their website. The college has received institutional accreditation from the ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges), an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
It's important to enroll with a college that is accredited. Accreditation is not a guarantee for placement once you graduate, but a degree from an accredited institution is the only kind of education an employer will accept as legitimate. Plus students must be aware that they are not eligible for federal aid and cannot receive financial assistance if the college they have enrolled with isn’t accredited.
In summary: Do not apply to a college without evaluating its accreditation, and do not enroll if you're not satisfied with the accreditation.
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