You may have heard the word “accreditation” before in relation to educational institutes – and you’ve likely wondered what the big deal is. So, what is the difference between accredited and non-accredited institutions? If a school is considered accredited, it means that you can trust the standards by which they operate. When you graduate from an accredited school, you can rest assured that your degree will be on par with the degrees from other schools and that both the material you covered and testing you underwent were sufficient to prepare you for your chosen field. This is also relevant for accredited online colleges.
For a school to become accredited, they need undergo an accreditation process, which usually involves having their protocols and testing standards audited by an accreditation board. In short, the goal of certifying schools as ‘accredited’ is to create an educational standard across the country. Creating standards like this not only assures students that there education is up to par but it also assures employers that the workers they hire are competent – regardless of where they studied. This is becoming more and more important for students studying online. Without the same reassurances provided by a physical institution, students can find themselves studying at an online institution that does not meet teaching standards. While this is not always the case, because there are many reputable schools that are not accredited but finding an accredited online college will remove a lot of hassle.
Choosing to attend a school that is not accredited generally means that, despite being tested regularly – and possibly even having a final examination process, you will not be considered ‘certified’ in your field. In order to be recognized as properly schooled or trained in your field, you will have to undergo independent testing by an accreditation board. Now, if you know your stuff this testing shouldn’t be any more difficult than exams at an accredited institution – the major difference will be in the fees. Writing board exams that are run independently from your school means that your tuition does not cover the price of these exams. This is important to take into consideration if you do choose an unaccredited school. You will need to factor all these additional costs into your budget. There is less of a risk with unaccredited institutions that provide a classroom setting but with schools which are exclusively offered online, choosing an unaccredited one could be disastrous. An accredited online college will guarantee the value of your course work and provide you with a certification at the end of the process. The same cannot be guaranteed of unaccredited online schools. Is it really worth the risk?
Online schooling is becoming more and more commonplace. This means that many of the stigmas and stereotypes surrounding online programs are beginning to ebb and become more acceptable amongst employers. Choosing an accredited online college to complete your degree or certification is just one less hurdle for you to overcome at the end of the day. The most common instances where you will find a reputable school that is not accredited, is with private institutions. All the schools you see commercials or infomercials for that promise to have you in the work force in as little an eight months, are usually private schools. Everest, TriOs and Medix Schools provide all the necessary training and experience you need to obtain diplomas and degrees but they require you to write board tests or independent exams at an additional cost to you. These practices make it possible for them to offer their programs at a more affordable price on paper, but at the end of the day, the tuition plus the cost of exams work out to be about the same as other places – the major difference is the fast-tracked programs that get you out of school faster.
An accredited online college is for many reasons, the best option for students taking their schooling through distance education, but there are situations where an unaccredited school may be simply more accessible. If you are only accepted to unaccredited institutions for study then you aren’t left with much of a choice, the good news is that you can still get the career you seek from an unaccredited school. Before deciding on any school, you should do your research; this is particularly applicable if it is a new online institution or you are otherwise unfamiliar with them.