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Published:April 15th, 2008 05:51 EST
Don't be burned, fooled or mislead by College Accreditation

Don't be burned, fooled or mislead by College Accreditation

By Glenn Brandon Burke (Mentor/Speaker)

Those of you who read my articles or Blogs or my One Sheet from my online press kit ( know that, in addition to being a Motivational Speaker, my hobby and love is teaching the occasional Public Speaking/Speech Communication class as an adjunct instructor at a variety of colleges.

While teaching a class, a student brought up the topic of college accreditation, and asked if it is important for a college to have "Regional Accreditation."

That question got me to thinking what students actually know about accreditation.

Consequently, I surveyed hundreds of students about what they knew of Regional Accreditation and its importance to their future in regard to their degree.  I soon realized most students do not know about academic accreditations in any way; and, therefore, many may have made, or will be making, a major mistake with their education and future. Because of this, some students may be burned, fooled or mislead by schools who offer a "bachelor's" degree without having the accreditation the student truly needs.

Whatever are your goals regarding your education and career development, the type of instituion you will want to attend will either be accredited, or it won't.

Some colleges have what is called National Accreditation. Whereas, others schools have Regional Accreditation (there are different accreditations for other types of programs, degrees, etc.) So why is it important to attend a school that has regional accreditation? Well again, that all depends on what you desire for your education and career.

According to"Regional Accreditation is the primary type of institutional accreditation used in the United States. It is carried out by six organizations that cover different geographic regions of the country. The six regional accrediting bodies collectively serve more than 3,500 of the approximately 3,800 degree-granting institutions in the United States."

If your college or university is accredited by one of the six regionally accrediting bodies listed below, then you know your school will be recognized by other institutions as well as potential employers. In essence, it's a "real" college or university. Do not get me wrong. Both Regionally and Nationally Accredited colleges have some great degrees and programs. But, before you invest in your educational future, you must know the difference so you can make an informed and educated decision.

If you attend a college that has National Accreditation (also know as 'Trade or Career School" accreditation), which, to the untrained person, may seem far more impressive than Regional, you will be attending an institution that:

1. Will not be recognized by many, perhaps most, Regionally Accredited colleges and universities, and

2. Will not be honored by employers who require one to have a "real" bachelor's degree.

Your credentials will be evaluated in keeping with a trade school education. But if that's what the employer seeks, and that's what you desire, then go for it.

I have met people who graduated from Nationally Accredited colleges and do very well in their respected field. I have also met people who feel they were burned by a Nationally Accredited college. However, if you desire to be a chef, odds are this type of education will not be found at a Regionally Accredited college or university. Just make sure the school is accredited and has job placement assistance.

For example, should you receive a "bachelor's" degree from a school with National Accreditation such as ITT Technical Institute, and one day decide to pursue your master's degree at, say, for instances, San Diego State University (SDSU) or University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), your "bachelor's" degree will not be recognized as a true bachelor's degree because it was not granted by a school with Regional Accreditation.

While researching this article, I called the admissions department of an ITT Technical Institute in Las Vegas, NV, and spoke with a gentleman named "John." I asked John if ITT is Regionally Accredited, and here's what he said:

"No. We have National Accreditation. Wouldn't you prefer graduating from a college that's recognized nationally instead of just regionally?"

Wow! That sounded pretty impressive to me. Then I asked if, after completing my ITT bachelor's ITT, would I be in a position to pursue a master's degree from San Diego State University or University of Nevada Las Vegas; in other words, would SDSU or UNLV accept my bachelor's from ITT.

John replied, "Each school is different. You'd have to check with them. But keep in mind that ITT having National Accreditation means we're recognized across the nation. Now, Glenn, would that be better for you? But as far as UNLV, they do accept our degrees since we're both here in Vegas." 

To double-check John's information, I called both UNLV and SDSU's Graduate, Undergraduate and Matriculation departments. I was told by both schools that they have not, do not, do not plan nor intend to articulate any agreement with ITT.

Therefore, neither SDSU nor UNLV will accept credits or recognize a degree from ITT. Without checking every Regionally Accredited college and university throughout the country, I cannot say with certainty what each would say; however, I would be willing to guess that most will not recognize your ITT degree.

Ladies and gentleman, John did not lie to me. What he did, though, was try to mislead or fool me into attending ITT.  Please, do yourselves a favor and research your prospective schools of choice before you enroll.

The six regionally accrediting bodies:

1. Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Higher Education (MSA/CHE). The Middle States Commission on Higher Education is the unit of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools that accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in the Middle States region, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several locations internationally. 

2. New England Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (NEASC-CIHE). The Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, is the regional accreditation agency for over 236 colleges and universities in the six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Two institutions in Greece; three in Switzerland; and one in Bulgaria, Bermuda, and Lebanon, respectively, are also affiliated with CIHE.

3. North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The Higher Learning Commission (NCA-HLC).

The Higher Learning Commission accredits, and thereby grants membership in the Commission and in the North Central Association, to degree-granting educational institutions in the North Central region: Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.  

4. Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) is an independent, non-profit membership organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) as the regional authority on educational quality and institutional effectiveness of higher education institutions in the seven-state Northwest region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. It fulfills its mission by establishing accreditation criteria and evaluation procedures by which institutions are reviewed.

5. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges.
The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the recognized regional accrediting body in the eleven U.S. Southern states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia) and in Latin America for those institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master's or doctoral degrees. The Commission on Colleges is the representative body of the College Delegate Assembly and is charged with carrying out the accreditation process. 

6. Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) The Senior College Commission.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is one of six regional associations that accredit public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the United States. The Western region covers institutions in California and Hawaii, the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Pacific Basin, and East Asia, and areas of the Pacific and East Asia where American/International schools or colleges may apply to it for service.

Information on National Accreditation:

ACCSCT has been at the forefront of establishing and advancing quality education at private, post-secondary career schools and colleges. ACCSCT, recognized by the United States Department of Education as a private, non-profit, independent accrediting agency, is dedicated to ensuring a quality education for more than 200,000 students who annually pursue career education at approximately 800 ACCSCT accredited institutions. Now that you better understand the difference between Regional and National Accreditation, don't be burned, fooled or mislead by the admission representatives. You are now able to make an informed decision about your education and attend a college that will benefit you both educationally and professionally.

Photo above taken by Hardy Wilson/The Coloradoan. 

For more information on Glenn Brandon Burke,