How to check online college accreditation, and why is it important - ForumDaily
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How to check online college accreditation and why it matters

Accreditation is when an independent body verifies whether an institution or its program meets certain academic standards. Attending an accredited college ensures that your degree is recognized by employers, certification boards, and other institutions. Edition Accredited Schools Online talked about how to determine if an online college is accredited and why accreditation is so important to your future.

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Considering the time and cost of college education, prospective students should make sure their institution or program is accredited before applying, especially if they are looking for an online education.

Why is accreditation so important

Accreditation is similar to a seal of approval - it proves that the institution provides a quality education, that is, it meets certain academic standards.

These standards typically focus on the college's ability to provide academic support, how well it prepares students for the job, and the quality of the faculty and the strength of the curriculum.

Attending an accredited college ensures that you are eligible for federal financial aid. Only colleges that have been accredited by an approved agency are eligible to receive federal funding. Approved accreditors are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and/or the US Department of Education (ED).

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In addition, accreditation increases the likelihood that graduate programs and potential employers will recognize your degree. A non-accredited institution's degree may not meet the requirements for licensing or admission to graduate school.

How to confirm accreditation: 3 steps

If you want to get into an online college or university, first make sure it's accredited before you apply. Many online colleges act like they are accredited but are really just a diploma factory handing out unrecognized degrees and certificates.

So how can you confirm the status of accreditation? Follow the instructions below.

1. Check the school website

Most accredited colleges and universities post a link to their accreditation information somewhere on their home page or in their About Us section.

In addition, you can find information about accreditation using the search function or by searching for "[college name] accreditation site:.edu" on Google.

If you would like to validate program accreditation (not just institutional), go to the program's official home page and find information about accreditation.

2. Go to the website of the Accreditation Agency

Although the college website may claim that the institution is accredited, some diploma mills lie about their accreditation status or use fake accrediting agency names. Therefore, you should check the official website of the accreditation agency.

In particular, it must contain a database or a list of member schools. Find the educational institution you are interested in in this list - if it is, then you can be sure that it has accreditation from this department.

The same goes for individual programs: search the accreditation website for the one you choose to confirm its status.

3. Checking the legitimacy of the accreditor

The final step is to ensure that the accrediting agency itself is a legitimate organization recognized by CHEA and/or ED.

Remember that if a college or program is accredited by an unrecognized agency, you may not get federal aid, a license, or even a job.

To ensure the agency's legitimacy, look for it on the CHEA list and on the database of accredited higher education institutions and ED programs. An accreditor can only be on one of them, but will still be considered legitimate.

Accreditation red flags

Colleges without CHEA or ED recognized accreditation know they are missing an important characteristic.

As a result, many diploma mills go to great lengths to confuse or deceive prospective students into thinking the school is accredited. These fraudulent colleges may even go the other way and claim that accreditation is not required.

One way diploma mills try to scam students is by getting accreditation from a fake accrediting agency. These fake agencies often look like the real thing and award accreditation to schools much more easily than a reputable accreditation body. Sometimes all a diploma factory needs to do is pay a small fee.

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Here are a few red flags to look out for when looking for accredited online colleges:

  • the school has a very similar name or website to a well-known accredited school;
  • other colleges and employers in the same region as the institution have never heard of the institution or view it strongly negatively;
  • the college is accredited by an agency not recognized by CHEA or ED;
  • the college is pending accreditation status and there is no estimated date yet when accreditation will be completed;
  • the college promises that you will complete your degree in an unusually short period, such as six months for a bachelor's degree;
  • the institution has incredibly high (or low) tuition prices;
  • his promotional materials seem overly "selling";
  • teaching degrees are not available or the teaching staff have attended non-accredited institutions;
  • the college makes incredible claims, such as much higher than average graduate salaries or incredible employment rates after graduation, and does not cite sources or offer ways to verify information;
  • the site does not list the addresses of the campus or offices;
  • graduation and study program requirements are much less stringent than comparable accredited programs;
  • you can only get a degree if you have previous experience - no coursework is required;
  • the college awards academic credit for previous coursework without requiring you to submit an official transcript;
  • the institution has few requirements for class attendance or participation, if any.

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