What’s the big deal about Accreditation?

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Larry Nelson's picture

How seriously can I take an article promoting "accredidation" when the word accreditation (something I am strongly in favor of, by the way) itself is misspelled (except in quotations) throughout the article.  Curiously, the writer spells the words "accredits" and "accredited" correctly, apparently never noticing the discrepancy.

 

Jim's picture

Larry Nelson wrote:

How seriously can I take an article promoting "accredidation" when the word accreditation (something I am strongly in favor of, by the way) itself is misspelled (except in quotations) throughout the article.  Curiously, the writer spells the words "accredits" and "accredited" correctly, apparently never noticing the discrepancy.

 

I advised the author

Mark_Smith's picture

I appreciate the need for accreditation in the current environment. Accreditation is not optional for a school. Without it your degree is practically worthless.

But...

I wish colleges would collectively get rid of accreditation.

It is a gimmick. It says nothing about how good your school is. It says nothing about how good the classroom instruction is at your school. In my home town there are two "for profit" degree completion "colleges" and both have full accreditation. If you have 30+ hours and come to them, in 18 months meeting one might a week, you too can earn a degree in organizational leadership. Compare that to the instruction at BJU. It is a joke. A sad joke.

Then, at legitimate schools, even secular state schools, accreditation agencies are increasingly squeezing universities. No joke, I am practically required to put certain things in my syllabus to satisfy the accreditation committee. It is ridiculous. To prove you are teaching your material properly, every 5 years your course goes through a review. They don't really care whether you actually taught anything or whether the students learned the material. All they care about is did you make a list of skills the students are supposed to achieve, and then you rate them on those skills. A course letter grade CANNOT be used for this. You have to fill out separate assessment criteria. Furthermore, they require that every class be identical with the same course number. Say your school has 4 sections of Astronomy 101. They have to be identical. No individual instructor creativity is allowed.

I hate it. Actually, I resent the fact that some BA psychology grad at some accreditation company decides whether I (with a PhD and love of astronomy) taught my students astronomy well. 

Bert Perry's picture

Mark points out some great things, and the comparison that comes to mind for me is ISO--more or less, you can get ISO certified with your quality system being as decrepit as a Yugo that's been sitting behind the barn for 20 years.   That said, a lot of companies won't do business with non-certified vendors because the alternative is even worse--no quality system at all besides the good will and character of the guys you're buying from.

I'm guessing accreditation is the same way.  We can quibble about what the standards ought to be, and we know a priori that some places vastly exceed the standards (which ones we can debate), but a lot of employers/graduate schools do insist on accreditation because they want a certain body of knowledge and ability among incoming employees and students.

Now if we can only persuade colleges that an English major ought to have studied the Bard, and that there is no basis whatsoever for accrediting any degree program with the word "studies" in it.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

My own personal thoughts on accreditation are mixed, but reading through this thread reminded me of two things:

1) It is not enough to speak to be understood; we should strive to speak so that we cannot be misunderstood,

2 the less we know about a topic the more softly we should speak about it (an axiom that frequently comes back to haunt me personally),

 

Some "For instances"

No, every school does not have to be accredited. In fact, it would surprise many parents to know that their local public schools are frequently not accredited. Accreditation, like everything else, can be done well or poorly. It can aso vary greatly from one accrediting agency to another. Furthermore. the accreditation standards will ultimately have certain things that each individual accrediting agency requires of schools. I have never seen one yet that ent so far as to require a specific textbook for certain classes, but they all place some requirements on the school regarding what is taught and hw it is taught. Ultimately, it is a tool that can be used to great benefit, but there are no  guarantees. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

dgszweda's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

 Ultimately, it is a tool that can be used to great benefit, but there are no  guarantees. 

But without accreditation, it leads to limitations of your investment.  If you are looking to go to graduate school or to further your education at a secular institution, regional accreditation is critical.  Some jobs are starting to require a degree from a regionally accredited institution, especially in some government programs.  We could all argue whether there is value to the actual program in regards to accreditation, but it would be hard to argue that it doesn't present limitations.  This use to not be the case.  When I was going to BJU in the late 1980's early 1990's, it wasn't such a big problem.  I know that this has changed, because it is increasingly becoming a problem, unless you go to a graduate school in South Carolina.  As cost goes up, it makes parents hesitant to pay $80K+ for a 4 year degree at a non-accredited college, when it can create problems later on for your children.  I also do believe that these for-profit schools have been the main culprit of schools requiring accreditation.  There are just too many schools out there now and there is a growing list of bad institutions, and without a graduate school having intimate knowledge of every school in the US, they need to rely on some level of standard, and accreditation is the choice, regardless of whether that is a good measuring stick or not.

Mark_Smith's picture

Why can't the quality of graduates speak for themselves? If graduates from a school are educated and effective, why isn't that good enough? What does accreditation give other than a label? I realize in the present environment, lack of accreditation makes a degree worthless. My question is does accreditation really add anything to a student's education? 

dgszweda's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Why can't the quality of graduates speak for themselves? If graduates from a school are educated and effective, why isn't that good enough? What does accreditation give other than a label? I realize in the present environment, lack of accreditation makes a degree worthless. My question is does accreditation really add anything to a student's education? 

The problem is that there is no mechanism to measure the quality of a graduate.  For the 100's of thousands of applicants to graduate schools or jobs, there is no easy way to measure the quality of the applicant.  Obviously someone coming from Stanford with a 4.0 is going to be a quality student, because of the known reputation.  But there is no way to measure the quality of the so many graduates from so many schools that are popping up.  I took P-Chem (first semester) at BJU in 1993.  Later that year I took 2nd semester at Marquette University.  I can tell you that the quality between BJU (non-accredited) and Marquette (accredited) was equivalent.  Same book, same level of instruction and rigor.  So yes, accreditation doesn't necessarily indicate quality.  It is just the only consistent level of a measuring stick that we have.

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Why can't the quality of graduates speak for themselves? If graduates from a school are educated and effective, why isn't that good enough? What does accreditation give other than a label? I realize in the present environment, lack of accreditation makes a degree worthless. My question is does accreditation really add anything to a student's education? 

All too often, I think the quality of the graduates has spoken loudly and clearly, which is why more and more employers are requiring accreditation.  I know a few graduates of Pensacola--guys with computer science degrees or whatever they call it there--who could not get a job in their field because nobody cared about a degree from Pensacola outside the fundamental ghetto.  Again, accreditation is not a guarantee, but it does get a few basics in place (at least theoretically) so any employer in the nation can look up "Podunk State U" and see that while they're not one of the U.S. News top 25, they are accredited and OK in that field.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Larry Nelson's picture

dgszweda wrote:

The problem is that there is no mechanism to measure the quality of a graduate.  For the 100's of thousands of applicants to graduate schools......there is no easy way to measure the quality of the applicant. 

 

Right up front, I am a proponent of accreditation.  For applicants to (many/most) graduate schools/programs, however, there does exist a broad, uniform means to measure the quality of applicants.  Applying to medical school?  You take the MCAT.  Law school?  You take the LSAT.  Graduate business school?  The GMAT.  More generalized graduate programs?  The GRE.  Etc.

Irrespective of an applicant's undergraduate college, his or her score on the widely-used, standardized graduate entrance tests tells a graduate/ professional school something about an applicant's abilities & aptitude relative to other applicants. 

 

dgszweda's picture

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

The problem is that there is no mechanism to measure the quality of a graduate.  For the 100's of thousands of applicants to graduate schools......there is no easy way to measure the quality of the applicant. 

 

 

 

Right up front, I am a proponent of accreditation.  For applicants to (many/most) graduate schools/programs, however, there does exist a broad, uniform means to measure the quality of applicants.  Applying to medical school?  You take the MCAT.  Law school?  You take the LSAT.  Graduate business school?  The GMAT.  More generalized graduate programs?  The GRE.  Etc.

Irrespective of an applicant's undergraduate college, his or her score on the widely-used, standardized graduate entrance tests tells a graduate/ professional school something about an applicant's abilities & aptitude relative to other applicants. 

 

I agree, but these are often limited to a few areas of study.  This is also why the MCAT, LSAT, GMAT and so on are heavily used in the decision of accepting an applicant and also why accreditation is less of a concern in those areas.  Even though BJU is unaccredited, individuals applying to med school almost always never have a problem.  The good grades, high MCAT score and recommendation from a number of nationally recognized doctors that work with BJU provide enough coverage for those entering into Medical School.

Mark_Smith's picture

of BJU/Pensacola (unaccredited) vs Maranatha etc that are accredited. 

 

Get out some, people.

Accreditation tells you nothing!

I can tell you that Rasmussen College is accredited. It is a for-profit "college" that has many locations in the US. It is a joke...but it is accredited. Students show up at my state school with 60 hours from there. They know nothing. They try to take our classes and fail.

We have many University of Phoenix students. Their classes are jokes. Students don't learn how to study and learn. They show up at our university and get in trouble right away.

Accreditation as presently regulated by the regional committees is a sad joke.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

dgszweda wrote:

I know that this has changed, because it is increasingly becoming a problem, unless you go to a graduate school in South Carolina.

Honestly, even in the mid-80's, I did exactly this.  I had a math degree from BJU, and got my master's from Clemson in computer science.  The faculty at Clemson was indeed aware of the quality of graduates from BJU, and I had absolutely no trouble being accepted into the program, but I was somewhat concerned about the value of my degree outside of certain circles.  I do know that with my M.S. from Clemson, I've gotten no questions about BJU and accreditation from any of my employers in the field (I've had 6 since grad school).  Today, although I've not applied to schools or tried to enter the field at the entry-level, I suspect it's much harder than it was then.

Dave Barnhart

dgszweda's picture

dcbii wrote:

 

dgszweda wrote:

 

I know that this has changed, because it is increasingly becoming a problem, unless you go to a graduate school in South Carolina.

 

 

Honestly, even in the mid-80's, I did exactly this.  I had a math degree from BJU, and got my master's from Clemson in computer science.  The faculty at Clemson was indeed aware of the quality of graduates from BJU, and I had absolutely no trouble being accepted into the program, but I was somewhat concerned about the value of my degree outside of certain circles.  I do know that with my M.S. from Clemson, I've gotten no questions about BJU and accreditation from any of my employers in the field (I've had 6 since grad school).  Today, although I've not applied to schools or tried to enter the field at the entry-level, I suspect it's much harder than it was then.

 

I just completed my MBA from an accredited school even though I had an unaccredited BS from BJU.  Typically it would be difficult, but I squeezed in through an Executive MBA, which does cost a fortune.  But they value where you are in your career and rigorous interview processes.  In the end the MBA is the same as their normal graduates that require GRE's to get into.  The degree is still just a normal MBA from the institution with no differentiator on whether it is executive or not.  The school was not only regionally accredited but also internationally accredited by the same body that does Harvard's MBA.  The schooling was awesome and very challenging.  This now gives me a shield from my unaccredited BS.  At my level in my career the quality of the degrees are important and can have an impact on my hiring.

Lee's picture

Accreditation, social security, car inspections, etc., are all here to stay, and, for the most part, they all could be legit at some level but are generally scams in their present manifestations.  Just suck it up and pay the fee knowing that your vehicle is likely not safer, your retirement plan is not any more secure, and your education is no more and no less meaningful.  It's just the cost of doing business in our bureaucracy. 

Lee