Accreditation: The Quality Guarantee For Online Schools
Accreditation is the official stamp of approval given by a board of review that certifies the quality and educational degree of a particular school. The emphasis of a school's accreditation is on the quality of the education it offers. Accreditation involves a process whereby the overall institution and the curricula of its programs are strictly reviewed, and must meet set standards of a quality education.
For online schools, the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) determines whether or not an online schooling program meets the requirements of a quality education. The Distance Education and Training Council (DETC) is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. If you are interested in an online school that is not accredited by either of these two councils, then it is highly recommended that you look for another school. The best place to look to check that your school is accredited is the U.S. Department of Education.
The U.S. is also divided into six regions, each of which has a different regional accreditation body that oversees and accredits the degree-granting schools within that region. The six regional accrediting bodies are:
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
- North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
- Western Association of Schools & Colleges
Selecting an online school accredited by one of these six regional bodies and by DETC will ensure the validity of your program, the transferability of credits between schools, and the credibility of your degree to different employers.
HOW IT AFFECTS CREDIBILITY AND QUALITY OF EDUCATION
Having a college degree from an accredited school is a statement to other schools, prospective employers, and the world in general that the education you received was a quality one. It gives credibility to the knowledge you gained over the course of your study. This credibility is very important when you are looking to enter the work force, as employers know that an accredited school can be trusted to offer a good education to its students.
HOW IT AFFECTS FINANCIAL AID
Enrolling in an accredited school can also make the difference between receiving financial aid and paying everything out of your own pocket. Schools accredited by the U.S. Department of Education provide financial aid to the many students who qualify for grants or loans. Non-accredited schools are not eligible to offer financial aid to their students.
HOW IT AFFECTS YOUR CREDITS
Paying attention to the kind of accreditation your school has is especially important if there is any chance you may want to transfer to a different school during your degree, or study elsewhere for a further qualification. If your first school is not accredited, then your new school is unlikely to accept the credits you have accumulated from your studies there. Even if it is accredited, it will need to be accredited by the same board as your new school if you want to be sure your credits will transfer. The best way to ensure you will be free to transfer credits is to attend only schools listed on the U.S. Department of Education's website.
WHERE TO CHECK FOR LEGITIMATE ACCREDITATION
Accreditation is something almost all online schools claim to have, but not all accreditations are legitimate. It is very important to investigate the accreditation of an online school before you decide to enroll. You can protect yourself from fraud by simply checking that school's listing on the website of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.