The first step that any aspiring online student should take before enrolling in an online school is to verify its accreditation status. It is essential for any online or brick-and-mortar school to be accredited by recognized accrediting agencies.
What is Accreditation?
Accreditation is an ongoing activity or process initiated by the institution. It is a process of validation in which schools, as well as universities, are evaluated almost on a regular basis. The basic standards for accreditation are established by a peer review board that comprises of the faculty from various accredited schools and universities.
Thus, it is sort of an independent appraisal of the overall educational quality by reputed members of the board recognized by the State. Accreditation dwells on quality assurance and commitment to consistent quality improvement.
Here are the necessary criteria for a school to achieve accreditation by reputable Government-approved agencies:
- The school is following the rigorous standards set by the State
- The school looks into its educational development and implements an Institutional effectiveness plan
- Passes the annual review of its financial stability, retention, and output
- Allows announced and unannounced site visits.
In simpler terms, there are certain general standards set by the peer review accreditation boards that should be adopted by the school. Here is a list of the standards that need to be met:
- Overall Mission of the College
- Objectives and Goals
- Student Requirements for Admissions
- Services Available to Students
- Education Quality
- Faculty reputation
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is important due to the following basic reasons:
- It helps students to determine the institution is fit for enrollment.
- It proves the fact that the institution meets the minimum educational and overall standards of quality.
- Assist other institutions in determining the acceptability of transfer credits.
- Enables employers to determine the validity of educational programs and whether a graduate is credible. Employers require a foolproof evidence that applicants have received a degree from an accredited school
- Enables graduates to sit for certain certification examinations.
- Sets goals for the self-improvement of the institution
- Serves as a means for self-regulation
In order to enjoy a successful and seamless career, it is essential for any student to go to an accredited school. Schools that have been through the accreditation process are more likely to grant degrees that employers and Admission officers of colleges recognize and approve of. Companies and top-level universities want to make sure that you have a quality education so that you can contribute to the growth of the company or institution. Screening is done on the basis of accreditation. It implies that those individuals are sorted out who have obtained a degree from an accredited institution. The accreditation status also ensures students to have a brighter chance of having their credits transferred to other reputable institutions.
All national and regional accrediting agencies hold online educational institutions to the same high standards that are held by the “brick and mortar” institutions.
Knowledge of the accreditation process is vital for every student. The basic info shall help you keep a safe distance from “diploma mills” or other institutions that grant fake degrees. Diploma mills without do not provide any quality education to students. Always make sure to check the body responsible for accreditation of your school before you get enrolled. You can also find the necessary bunch of information on accrediting bodies at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s website, www.chea.org. CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation) is recognized as an advocate for self-regulation of academic quality through the status of accreditation.
Types of Online School Accreditation
This accreditation status is the most widely recognized form of school accreditation in the U.S. It is granted by the regional accreditation boards. In fact, an “accredited school” in the United States implies that the school is regionally accredited.
Every geographic region of the United States has a regional agency that evaluates and grants accreditation to the degree-granting institutions headquartered in their respective territories.
Here is a list of the six regional accreditation boards:
- MSA — Middle States Association of Colleges & Schools
- NASC — Northwest Commission on Colleges & Universities
- NCA — North Central Association of Colleges & Schools
- NEASC — New England Association of Schools & Colleges
- SACS — Southern Association of Colleges & Schools
- WASC — Western Association of Schools & Colleges
The other type of accreditation is the national accreditation.
Here is a list of the three most common types of national accreditation agencies:
- DETC: Distance Education & Training Council
- ACICS: Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools
- ACCSC: Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges
Most of the schools that are nationally accredited provide career and vocational training.
State Licensing Boards-governed careers like teaching, accounting and engineering usually do not accept academic degrees that are obtained from nationally accredited institutions. These careers only accept those from regionally accredited institutions. This is because these careers require degrees that carry special programmatic accreditation.
Overall, regional accreditation status indicates that the institution follows well-regulated academic curriculums that embody rigor so that the students’ true mettle is tested. Thus, the degree received by the students at the end of his course is well-deserved. This is not the case for nationally accredited institutions. They usually lack the educational regulations. Thus, the degree attained by the student here is not a complete proof of his abilities. The same logic is followed by the employers or the Admissions Officer of top colleges and Universities.
The diploma earned from the accredited online schools such as The Ogburn Online School have the same value factor as those obtained from traditional schools.
So be sure of the online school’s accreditation before enrolling in it. Confirm that the school is regionally accredited by genuine accreditors. Accreditation is perhaps the best measure of the credibility and legitimacy of an institution. In a nutshell, accreditation is a sure proof that the online school provides quality education.