What is an “Accredited” College? Why is Being “Accredited” Important?

There are a lot of colleges and universities in the United States, but how many of them are actually “accredited”? Just because a college exists, does not mean it has the best educational program or teaching system. The college could have been created and approved to teach, but not be accredited.

A student giving a thumbs up to the camera.

What is accreditation?

Accreditation is the analysis and study of educational programs. It measures the quality of the programs and if they are offered equally to all students in the institution. If a university is “accredited,” it means a group of experts took time to evaluate its operation system and that it meets the needed standard to be called granted an accreditation. The U.S Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, also known as OPE, has a database with all the accredited institutions in the country. They do not accredit educational institutions. Rather, they publish the list of those the Secretary of Education described as reliable, in areas like quality and training provided to students.

Why accreditation is important:

One of the most popular forms of accreditation in the US is the Regional Accreditation. If you are studying at an accredited institution and, for one reason or another, you decide to move to another state or simply change colleges, the credits you took in your previous college will be accepted in the new one, if both institutions are accredited. You will still have to fill the application and do the whole process of acceptance again, but the time you have spent studying in your other college will be worth it. The classes you have taken will be recognized and there will not be a reason to start again from scratch. Another important thing about accreditation is that accredited schools can participate in federal and financial aid programs and employer tuition assistance. Both programs offer help to students and families who have a hard time paying for their education.

Accreditation is not only offered to schools, but also to internships, residencies, programs, and online colleges.

How to check if your school is accredited:

The problem is that accreditation is given by private agencies, meaning that is easy for any organization to offer accreditation, when in reality they may not be the best to do so. Because of this, many students get worried about their college accreditation, and if it should or not be trusted. For you to know if your school is accredited visit either the Department of Education website, they offer a full list of accredited schools and their accredited programs, or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation webpage. The latter is the agency that selects which agencies can be consider “accreditation agencies” and gives them permission to accredit institutions.

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