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Old 01-29-2013, 07:46 AM   #1
LisaR
 
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Accreditation with regard to colleges

I've always heard to make sure a college is accredited which seemed silly to me. I'm sure there are some fly by night colleges out there, but the major universities that we have looked at are obviously accredited so I have never thought twice about it.

We went on a college tour yesterday and the tour guide said something that has me thinking. She mentioned "who" some of their accreditation was with. For instance, their business school has the exact same accreditation as Harvard.

What does that mean? Does that mean that their business program is really viewed to be on par with Harvard? It doesn't matter to me since my DD won't be a business major, but it does have me wondering how important the accreditation is in terms of who it is through. A future employer in another state isn't likely going to know that a lesser known OOS school has the same accreditation as Harvard. While it sounded impressive when she mentioned a few different examples, I wondered how important it is in the grand scheme of things?
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:10 AM   #2
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Have you seen this FAQ from the U.S. Dept. of Ed.?

I've never heard of a specific accreditation entity really mattering. It's important that a school be overall accredited, but beyond that a school's reputation is a school's reputation.

I'd guess the guide was referring to the specialized accreditation that some programs need to have in order for the degree to qualify the student for some profession that requires specific credentials.

P.S. Harvard Business School does not confer undergraduate degrees (true for many top business schools) so sounds like a silly comparison.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:10 AM   #3
abdmom
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LisaR View Post
I've always heard to make sure a college is accredited which seemed silly to me. I'm sure there are some fly by night colleges out there, but the major universities that we have looked at are obviously accredited so I have never thought twice about it.

We went on a college tour yesterday and the tour guide said something that has me thinking. She mentioned "who" some of their accreditation was with. For instance, their business school has the exact same accreditation as Harvard.

What does that mean? Does that mean that their business program is really viewed to be on par with Harvard? It doesn't matter to me since my DD won't be a business major, but it does have me wondering how important the accreditation is in terms of who it is through. A future employer in another state isn't likely going to know that a lesser known OOS school has the same accreditation as Harvard. While it sounded impressive when she mentioned a few different examples, I wondered how important it is in the grand scheme of things?
Accreditation is similar to a license, but it's not mandatory, like a license is. Not sure about universities, but K-12 schools are generally accredited by the same body. Accreditation does not mean that the schools are comparable, just that they meet certain standards. Those standards are generally administrative, not education quality standards. Being accredited by the same body as Harvard means as much as having a driver's license from the same body as the world's best race car driver. Nothing.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:11 AM   #4
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If it's the AACSB, 509 business colleges have this accreditation. Doesn't really mean a whole lot.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:14 AM   #5
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Any school that would intimate that having the same accreditation as another school meant anything at all would lose significant points in my eyes.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:38 AM   #6
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Any school that would intimate that having the same accreditation as another school meant anything at all would lose significant points in my eyes.
In fairness, the tour guide was asked specifically by a parent about accreditation. She told him about their overall accreditation, but the parent was one of *those* parents who asked a hundred irrelevant questions. His interest was the business school and he kept asking about the accreditation and she replied with something like, "All of our programs are accredited. If there are any non-government accreditation opportunities available for specific programs, we strive for those as well. Our business program has the exact same accreditation as Harvard." It went on longer than that because he was throwing out specific letters that meant nothing to me like, "Does it have XYZ recognition." She repeatedly told him that he needed to contact the school of business for answers to his questions.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
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Any school that would intimate that having the same accreditation as another school meant anything at all would lose significant points in my eyes.
Agree! Generally it's a geographical thing
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:46 AM   #8
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If a school does not earn accreditation federal funds can not be used for financial aid. The degree would not hold weight applying for grad school. It takes years to gain accreditation. If the school has been around more than a year, they will have a provisional accreditation.

Likewise it takes years to lose it.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:07 AM   #9
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It's best to think of "accreditation" as a minimum, or basic, standard that the institution must meet in order to receive approval from the accrediting organization. It's not a "best of class" or some sort of "gold star".

It's safe to say that pretty much every college/university that's been around for a while has some form of "institutional" accreditation, but it may be more important to make sure that the degree program, if it's a specialty degree such as engineering or MBA, you're interested in is also accredited.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:55 AM   #10
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Conventional non-profit institutions of higher learning are generally accredited by one of six regional accreditation bodies: for example, the Southern Assoc. of Colleges and Schools, or the North-Central Association (which contrary to the name, serves most of the Midwest.) Then, individual programs are sometimes additionally accredited by the professional associations for those subjects, such as Chemistry programs being accredited by the American Chemical Society. In business fields, as a PP said, the usual specific accreditation is from AACSB, but their criterion are not very program-specific (although I have heard that they are developing a separate secondary standard for accounting programs.)

Where you can get into true grey territory is for-profit schools. Some of them will be generally "accredited" by organizations that take payment for accreditation and will pass any institution that pays a fee and gets a charter. This article in USAToday is a good overview of how this information can be misleading: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/...fit29_CV_N.htm
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