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Understanding Accreditation for Online Schools

What accreditation could mean for a student academically and professionally cannot be talked about enough. But first it's important to understand what accreditation means and what it helps determine in an educational program.

Understanding Accreditation for Online Schools
By Glen L Michell

What accreditation could mean for a student academically and professionally cannot be talked about enough. But first it's important to understand what accreditation means and what it helps determine in an educational program.

What does accreditation mean?

Accreditation is a voluntary, independent review process carried out by accrediting agencies of the programs offered by educational institutions, both online and on ground. Accreditation verifies that the quality of programs offered is sound and uniform, evaluates the faculty, the administrative services, the financial aid programs the college supports, the free student services and facilities the college offers.

When an educational institution has been awarded an accreditation it ensures the student that it has been evaluated thoroughly and has met the set standards of the accrediting agency.

Who accredits online degree programs?

Accreditation of educational institutes (online or on campus) offering higher education is conducted by private, non-governmental accrediting agencies recognized by the U. S. Department of Education (USDE) and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The three main types of accrediting agencies: regional, national and program based accrediting agencies.

In what way does accreditation affect a student?

• Quality of education: A student studying at an accredited online college can be rest assured of the quality of education he or she receives.

• Securing financial aid: Federal, and in most cases state, financial aid is made available to students who qualify who enroll at colleges that have been accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE)

• Securing jobs: Potential employers review a person's educational and work history while considering him or her for a job. If the applicant holds a degree or a certificate from a college without proper accreditation it could hurt his or her chances of employment.

• Transfer of credits: Other colleges will not recognize your degree or the credits you have earned from a non-accredited college. As a result, you will not be able to transfer your credits to the other college.

What is the importance of understanding accreditation for online schools?

Diploma mills are unaccredited, profit-driven organizations that hand out 'degrees' that, in reality, are just pieces of paper and do not hold any value in the professional world. These organizations thrive on people's lack of knowledge about accreditation and use clever advertising tactics to lure students into purchasing these fake degrees. It is for this purpose that students are urged to look into a college's accreditation, be it online or on campus, before thinking of applying to it.

Also, confirm if the accrediting body that accredited the college is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). An example of a quality online college that offers degree programs at the associate, bachelor and master level in business and healthcare is Independence University. Independence University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) recognized by the USDE and its Respiratory Therapy program has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).

Points to keep in mind:

• To ensure that the accrediting agency that has accredited a college is reputable, check the U.S. Department of Education's website to view their database of the accrediting agencies they recognize.

• You may also check the Council for Higher Education Accreditation's website as they, too, maintains a database of accrediting agencies they recognize.

• Accreditation doesn't guarantee your success academically or professionally. It means that the institution has all the necessary tools, resources, equipment and aid to provide you with quality education.

• Keep an eye out for degree/diploma mills that are non-accredited and offer to you sell you degrees at a price for little or no coursework in a very short period of time.

• Read up on unbiased student reviews and testimonials.

• Question the college about its faculty, their method of conducting an online class, provisions made for student-teacher and student-student interaction.

Independence University is accredited

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