When you’re out there looking for the right online education experience, making certain that your chosen school or course is accredited is of vital importance. This is one of the first things you should look into regardless of which schools you’re researching, and definitely something you’re going to want to verify before you spend even a single penny. But what is accreditation and why is accreditation so important? Hopefully I’ll be able to explain everything for you in this short and simple guide.
Why is accreditation so important? – What is accreditation anyway?
The process of accreditation is where an independent review is conducted for colleges and universities. This is done to make absolutely certain that the education they are providing is consistent and of a high quality. Accreditation makes certain that the educational facility that you’re about to make a considerable investment in is on the level and providing quality educations. While the US Department of Education provides a list of accreditation agencies, they themselves don’t have one. All of the accreditation agencies are always a neutral party, completely independent and separate from any other entity. This is done so that you can be sure their accreditation is unbiased and objective. Also, each and every school that wishes to become accredited must voluntarily do so.
Why is accreditation so important?
There are many different reasons that accreditation is important, but the biggest one has to do with money. After leaving the public school system (which for most is completely free), colleges and universities are a gigantic investment – one that will have repercussions for your entire life. This is a major investment involving not only a ton of money but also 4-5 years of your life, so you need to make sure that you’re protected. The last thing you want to have happen is to find out that after spending incredible amounts of time and money your education and training is basically worthless.
There is also the chance that an unaccredited school will not be able to assist you financially. Some loans and grants are given on the basis that you attend an accredited school, as you’d basically be flushing that money down the tubes if it wasn’t. This can be a deal breaker if you’re on a tight budget – and nobody wants to spend all of their college years working overtime just to make payments.
Accreditation is also important should you ever decide to transfer to a different school or program – unaccredited schools won’t be able to transfer any of your credits or courses, so it will be like starting all over again. And for someone who’s already sunk untold time and money into an education, this can be a heartbreaker.
You’ll also be putting any future ideas of grad school in a tough spot too if you choose an unaccredited school for your undergrad work. Most accredited schools will not recognize a degree from an unaccredited institution, making finding and getting into the best grad schools next to impossible. This can put a real damper on any and all prospects of moving forward with your education, as well as crushing your ability to get the kind of job you want.
Why is accreditation so important? – Why would any school choose to be unaccredited?
There are a couple of reasons for remaining unaccredited, but the biggest one is financial motives. You see, with the kind of money getting throw around for higher education there is a big lure for getting a piece of that pie without having to do all of the hard work necessary to set up a legitimate college or university. This is especially true with some of the online courses and colleges – they can pop up almost overnight, promise the world, collect your money and then give you a diploma they printed off an inkjet, and most people won’t know what hit them until it comes time to look for a job. And when the heat gets to be too much, they can just shut it down and start a new site the next day, rinsing and repeating as they wish.
This is not true of all online schools however, and more and more of the legitimate ones are getting accredited to prove that they are for real. If you’re considering taking an online course or attending an online university (and there are several powerful advantages to going that route) make certain that your school of choice is an accredited one. Finding a legitimate online school is easy and most will proudly and prominently display their accreditation right on the website. If you can’t find it, just ask their customer service or admissions team and I’m sure they’d be able to assist you in any way that they can. I wish you the best of luck!