Why is accreditation important?
Committing to an online education is a big step and one that will require time, patience, and hard work. For this reason, it is imperative that you take the necessary steps to ensure the online program you choose is accredited. Accreditation acts as a marker of quality in education. It is awarded to schools that have met the standards of an accrediting agency, certifying that the degree programs and courses offered are worthwhile and valuable. Contrary to what many may believe, the U.S. government is not in charge of accrediting schools. Instead, the task is left to private accrediting agencies.
The standards these agencies use to evaluate schools can vary, so it is important to verify that the school you are interested in is accredited by a legitimate agency. One of the best ways to check whether or not a program is accredited is to look up that schoolís accreditation status using the U.S. Department of Educationís Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. This database lists all of the schools that are accredited by agencies that the Department of Education has deemed to be reliable authorities on education standards. You can also search for more accreditation information using the National Center for Education Statisticsí College Navigator tool, which lists specific details about all schools in the country.
In addition to increasing your chances that you will be receiving a quality education, accreditation also helps to differentiate diploma mills from real schools. Unfortunately, where there are people earnestly trying to earn a quality online education, there will be those who try to exploit them. Diploma mills are organizations that pose as legitimate schools in order to steal money from would-be students. They make promises about earning a degree with less time, less effort, and less money, though these mills still charge unsuspecting victims thousands of dollars for a degree that holds no value. Many victims of these scams never see their money again. Some mills will actually deliver a fraudulent diploma to victims while others deliver nothing at all. Regardless, this diploma is useless and no employer will accept it. By doing your research ahead of time and verifying a school is properly accredited, you can ensure your time, effort, and money do not go to waste.