Ultimately, accreditation can be the most important thing that sets reputable schools or programs that offer students a high quality education apart from those that issue degrees with little to no real academic value. Accreditation is a thorough, and lengthy, process that colleges and universities go through in order to attain recognition as a legitimate post-secondary institution. To become recognized, a school or program must undergo a detailed review and evaluation by a third party known as an accrediting association. This usually involves an intuitional examination, peer review, visits by the accrediting council, curriculum critiques, and faculty evaluation. The association then determines whether or not the institution meets predetermined standards and requirements to become accredited. Given that this is a detailed and complicated process, it is easy to see why schools that have not attempted to become accredited or failed to be granted accreditation status may not be a good choice for students.
This is a statement that government officials and working professionals tend to agree with. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation states that accreditation is a way to validate the quality of education that an institution or program provides and is important for the following reasons. A school or program has to be accredited in order for students to receive federal, and some state, grants and loans, as well as for students in some professional fields to take state licensure examinations. Accreditation may play a significant role when it comes to one's career as well since employers often verify accreditation status when reviewing potential employees' credentials or deciding to assist current employees with tuition. Another reason unaccredited education is a bad idea? Most accredited schools will not recognize courses taken from them, meaning that students will not be able to transfer their earned credits to another school.
Pursuing an education through an unaccredited school is a risky venture and students should proceed with extreme caution. But just because a school or program is not accredited, doesn't mean that it is completely devoid of any academic value whatsoever. Students pursuing a liberal education that focuses more on general academics will almost certainly want to enroll in an accredited school, but for those looking for vocational training or personal enrichment it might not be so important. If you simply want to learn how to do something new or pick up an extra hobby, it may be okay that your school is not accredited. There are many types of enrichment programs that provide quality information and can help enhance personal development. These types of programs can cover a wide range of areas including professional, computers, technology, writing, finance, and holistic practices. In short, if you are not planning on transferring your credits, earning a widely-recognized degree, or pursuing a career that requires a license to practice, these types of programs can be greatly beneficial. Accreditation status may also not matter when it comes to those who want to learn about a specific discipline or extend their knowledge base in an area. Taking a course on a subject like art, literature, creative writing, biblical studies, health, or physical fitness will likely be more for your own personal gain than a way to prove that you are educated.