Buyer Beware!

 

Numerous studies have shown that college graduates make more money than high school graduates. Additionally, a college degree will also enhance your chances of promotion. The dilemma lies in the fact that not all college degrees are equal.  

Diploma with key

Numerous studies have shown that college graduates make more money than high school graduates. Additionally, a college degree will also enhance your chances of promotion. The dilemma lies in the fact that not all college degrees are equal. Accreditation, or formal recognition, is the key to ensuring the degree you receive is from a quality institution. Accreditation is an ongoing review process that ensures institutions of higher learning conform to nationally accepted levels of academic rigor. This is necessary to keep the so-called “diploma mills” from proliferating.

Before you sign the entrance papers and pay your entrance fee, you should do the necessary research to determine the level of accreditation that has been attained by your prospective choice of a university or college. Your first step should be the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) website at ed.gov. The DOE website will list the accrediting agencies and the specific ability of each to accredit universities and colleges.

The next step in your research should be to determine specifically which accrediting agency accredits the school you have chosen. The nationally accepted “gold standard” for accreditation are the six regional accrediting agencies. Florida is covered under the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS. SACS accredits the schools making up the Florida university system and local community colleges. SACS also accredits many of the private and not-for-profit universities and colleges in Florida. Additionally, some online schools operating in Florida may be accredited by the regional accrediting agency where they are physically located.

Potential problems begin when you select a school that has been accredited by an accrediting body other than one of the six regional boards. Although, the non-regional accrediting body may be approved by the U.S. Department of Education, the credits or degree earned may not be transferable to a regionally accredited college or university. For example, if you receive an associate’s degree from an institution that is not regionally accredited and you decide to continue toward a bachelor’s degree at a regionally accredited institution, your associate’s degree may not be accepted. This means you would have to start the degree seeking process from the beginning.

If you would like to learn more information about accreditation and college degrees contact Michelle Czechowski at 407-438-2194 or email at mczechowski@mail.barry.edu.  Barry University School of Adult and Continuing Education is a Catholic University and regionally accredited.