Why College Accreditation Matters
Before you decide to attend a college, one very important question to ask the college is: “Are you accredited?”
Accreditation assures you that:
- Teaching includes analytical, communication, and other basic “life long learning” college skills; expertise in the major field; and additional courses needed for the type of education it offers.
- Student learning is assessed.
- Federal funds for students are available to students of colleges accredited by federally recognized accreditors.
- Resources, funding and services, such as faculty, equipment and student services, are available as needed.
- Credit transfer and degree acceptance by employers and other colleges will probably be facilitated because a college’s accreditation is usually considered in such matters.
- Management is performed by appropriate staff.
- Experts are used in reviewing the college, such as professors and college presidents.
Not all colleges and universities are accredited by agencies recognized by the federal government. The most common type of accreditation of degree-granting colleges, from community colleges to large universities, is called “regional accreditation.” Each regional accreditor covers the colleges in one region of the U.S. Their Web sites list all colleges accredited by them and give other information such as the current status of the college’s accreditation and its degrees, students and other locations.
The seven U.S.regional accreditors are:
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the Higher Learning Commission
- Northwest Association of Schools and of Colleges and Universities, Commission on Colleges and Universities
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
Specific programs within a college may also be accredited by special accreditors.
By Jean Morse, president of the Middle States Commission of Higher Education, one of the accreditation groups.