Friday, April 1, 2011

Accreditation Is A Very Important Component Of College Choice

By Michelle Connor

Before starting college, one of the most important decisions a student can make is what college they're going to actually attend. There are many variables to take into consideration. Knowing exactly what you need to investigate before you enroll is important to having an optimal college experience.

Some students may take a tour of their college campus, and this tour usually answers a lot of their questions. Students want to see what the campus looks like, how many students are enrolled, and even what programs for study are available on site. However, a campus tour may not delve into the fine print of the college you're looking to attend, which means you have to find out on your own. Increase your success rate by researching more information about online education programs.

Because college is something you pay for out of your own pocket and you pick the school you're going to attend, most students find themselves more concerned about the quality of their education than when they attended public high school. College brings a new level of responsibility to make sure that what you're paying for is worth your cash. There's nothing worse than investing into your education and not receiving the quality you deserve.

The tool by which you can judge the quality of your academic institution is called "accreditation." Accreditation is earned by schools who voluntarily allow themselves to be reviewed by accrediting agencies. They must meet certain standards to ensure the education they're providing is uniform and of high caliber. After meeting these standards, they're awarded accreditation.

Accreditation is important for more reasons than simply ensuring the quality of the academic standards at your college. It is also used to determine a college's eligibility to participation in federal and state financial aid programs, which are integral for many students' success in getting through school. Also, it's important for the transferring of credits from one school to another. Even more, if you choose to pursue graduate work, a degree from an accredited college is a prerequisite for entrance into a graduate program.

There are different types of accreditation with which you should be familiar. The one most used in the United States is called regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is offered by six different accrediting agencies, defined to cover a specific geographic portion of the country. You can visit the website for the accrediting agencies to determine whether the school you're interested in attending has membership with the agency. The internet is a good resource for more information about online degrees.

Online colleges are subject to the same evaluations provided by accrediting agencies that traditional schools are. That's great news for students who are opting out of a more traditional learning experience. Simply because your degree is from an online program is absolutely no reason for your standard of education to fall below the norm.

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