Understanding the Accreditation Process and How it Affects Students

You have probably heard the term "accredited university" before, but may not be sure exactly what it means. An accredited college or university has proven that it provides the basic necessities for each certification and degree field it offers. Accreditation is important because it gives students, other schools, and potential employers the knowledge that the classes taken are accurate, well-designed, and carried out by professionals.

Unaccredited Courses

To understand accredited courses, you must first understand what it means to take courses that are unaccredited. Unfortunately, there are some entities that offer courses that have not been accredited by an official accreditation agency. While these courses may provide you with an excellent education and understanding, without accreditation, there is no proof that the courses supply you with the tools you need to be successful. Before applying to any educational institution, make sure it is accredited by an official accreditation agency.

Accreditation and Transfers

Not everyone plans on staying with the first college they attend. Many people choose to take entry-level courses online, then transfer those credits to an on-campus facility. Others may wish to earn their associate's degree in one location, but complete their bachelor's in another. Of course, many people apply to graduate school after they have completed their undergrad coursework. If this is your plan, again you will need to pay special attention to accreditation. Most schools will not accept your transfer credits if the school you attend is not accredited. In order to complete your next degree, you will have to retake the classes that did not transfer. This costs you time as well as significant amounts of money.

Accreditation and Employers

Potential employers look over your resume for information regarding your special skills, past work experiences, and education. Nearly all well-known institutions are accredited, but an educational institution that might not be familiar with the potential employer could raise a red flag. If and when the school is investigated, a degree from an unaccredited college or university could prove to be worthless. This is particularly true in the healthcare industry and in highly technical jobs. However, any job that requires a degree or certification also requires that the institution be accredited.

Significance of Accreditation

Accreditation is proof positive that your education is valid. When a graduate school accepts you, they want to know that your undergraduate education was thorough enough to allow you to succeed in your future education. When an employer wishes to hire you, he or she needs to know that you have the skills and abilities to handle the work before you. Accreditation is one way that these entities know that you have been armed with the best tools possible.

When you find the school or schools that are most interesting to you, take a moment to learn who their accrediting agency is. Most colleges and universities proudly display this information. You should also look at how long the college is accredited. If the university will be going under review while you are attending, you should see no changes to your own education. In fact, an accreditation review should not affect you at all unless problems are found.

Once you know that the schools you are interested in are accredited, you are ready to start the application process. When you are contacted by these schools, you can ask each institution more questions about their accreditation and how this affects you.

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