How Accreditation Tricks Potential Students
Potential students want the most bang for their buck when it comes to getting a college degree. Considering that the average bachelor’s degree can cost $100,000 or more, that’s a wise decision.
Finding the right university is about finding the right program as well as the right fit, and you want a degree that’s from a respected university. College accreditation can help to assure you that your school has merit and that your degree has value.
Reviewing a school’s accreditation status can help when choosing a university, but accreditation can trick potential students.
How accreditation works
A regional or national stamp of approval, known as accreditation, is an affirmation that the school’s educational program meets quality standards.
A university may seek accreditation for its overall academic program, but its doesn’t stop there. Colleges/schools and their departments/programs must also become accredited. For instance, a college/school of education worth its salt will seek CAEP accreditation, and its individual departments/programs will also seek accreditation via CAEP.
Ultimately, accreditation can assure potential students that the university and its colleges are respected institutions of higher learning.
The university is accredited; the program is not
Problems can arise when the school has been accredited, but specific colleges or programs within the university system have not been certified.
Students assume their chosen degree will be honored upon graduation, but there is no guarantee the diploma will be respected unless the program is also accredited. Be aware of disclaimers like “accreditation pending.” The accreditation may never come, leaving your engineering or law degree worth no more than the paper it was printed on.
National or regional accreditation?
For some potential students, the tricks don’t end there.
Regional accreditation assures that you are receiving a premium education, but the drawback is that your degree will cost more – if you meet the admission requirements.
Schools with national accreditation are often more affordable, and they are easier to gain admission into. The caveat here is that not all credits and degrees are transferable, nor do all corporate tuition programs provide reimbursement.
What benefits will accreditation provide?
By choosing an accredited school, potential students can reap several benefits. These include:
- More opportunities to seek financial aid
- Receiving an education of higher quality
- Earning a degree that will be recognized by other institutions if you choose to pursue graduate-level work
- Acceptance by industry professionals
The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are the two organizations who certify accrediting agencies.
Potential students who look carefully at university and individual accreditation are less likely to be tricked when selected their colleges.