What is an accredited college or accredited university? And how are universities and colleges accredited? And if a college or university obtains accreditation, does that mean the student will now be guaranteed a solid degree / career match? Or a particular curriculum studied will specifically prepare the student for a desired career?
Before we go any further, let’s get into the basics of accreditation.
There are six regional accreditation agencies, but there are also national accreditation and specialized accreditation agencies. The six regional accrediting agencies cover the United States and review the programs, campuses, and education delivery of their respective, regionally located colleges and universities. National accrediting agencies perform the same functions as the regional agencies; however, they generally focus on for-profit schools.
Some of the national accrediting agencies are Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT), Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), and Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). They also accredit faith-based colleges and universities.
Lastly, students studying in such fields as dentistry, medicine, nursing, and law generally need to graduate from accredited programs with specialized accreditation from professional associations.
When people speak of accreditation, they generally are referring to the regional accrediting agencies because they cover the majority of traditional colleges and universities. But for some reason, students and parents believe that because an institution is accredited that if they study a particular curriculum it is preparing them for a particular career. Not always the case.
Personally, my undergrad and graduate degrees are in English; however, none of the courses prepared me for teaching: composition, technical writing, critical thinking, grammar, and so on, or that which I have taught (a point of note is that I was not required to take one grammar or composition course as an English major). Previous to teaching in higher education, I studied to be a computer programmer; however, the curriculum I studied did little to prepare me for the type of programming I ended up doing.
In addition, I have met, spoken to, and read about numerous business professionals who mention that their business degree has been of little use to them. Even my lawyer friend speaks to the fact that there is a great difference between what he learned in school and what he is now doing on the job, where, according to my friend, he learned ninety-five percent of what he knows.
My point being that the majority of time students attend a college or university believing that the education received will prepare them for a particular career or that this guarantee is somehow implicit in the accrediting process. That is often not the case, except in more rigorous or specialized fields like medicine and law (even there, as you can see from my lawyer friend’s statement above, there is some wiggle room, for certain). In order to be successful, to avoid wasting years and leaving 100s of thousands of dollars on the table in lost salary, it is critical that students do their own research to discover not only what they want to do but what the job they’ll be doing requires. And this involves more work than one may initially perceive.
To limit a poor education to job or career match, first one must thoroughly know one’s talents, abilities, and gifts, for it is here where one will not only find a career but in exploiting these personal attributes find life-satisfaction and self-actualization. But this is an involved process and even after discovering what one was put here to do, it is imperative that he or she stick to it. But this is another topic. It is critical to finding career and life satisfaction, but let’s get back to the topic at hand.
Bottom line, it is the individual’s responsibility to know the limitations of education, what he or she was put here to do, how to stick to the plan or goal of exploiting and capitalizing on those gifts and talents, and to build an accurate match between education and career. No accrediting institution will do this work for you.
Please choose wisely and knowingly, for the world is in great need of those who do more than the minimum. Pick up your torch, the reason you were put here, and through your passion build a better community, state, country, even nation and world.
Here’s to your success!