College Accreditation 101: Why It Matters & How To Maintain It

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There’s been several stories about the Accreditation ot HBCU’s for the past few years. The stories alarm us, as we push to protect and advocate for the 101 historically black institutions that are still present in America. As colleges such as Bennett and Bethune-Cookman battle to maintain their accreditation, there’s been a lot of discussion in the HBCU community. We’ve seen many prayers offered and picture reposts, which aid in the cause of helping these institutions maintain their accreditation, but it isn’t enough.

We must understand the problem to properly address it. So, we here at HBCU Pulse have put together a quick lesson about college accreditation! We do this in hopes that we can educate the world on how to properly assist Bennett College (as they push to raise $5 million to maintain accreditation by February 2019) and any other HBCU (or college in general) that faces this issue! Check out the fast facts below!

What is college accreditation?

College accreditation is known as the process in which a complete analysis is done of the college. It is assured that the educational programs offered at the college have been able to maintain good quality for all the students equally. The financial functions of the college are also accessed, as well as enrollment. Even institutions with high enrollment can experience issues with accreditation, due to financial mismanagement and a lack of quality in programs. An accredited college is evaluated by a group of experts that analyze the entire educational, operation and teaching system of the college and they have been granted accreditation because they meet the required standards

These are the regional accreditation agencies that determine if a college maintains their accreditation. The bolded accreditation agency is the one that accredits most HBCU’s, as these institutions are located in southern and Midwest regions.

    Middle States Commission on Higher Education
    New England Association of Schools and Colleges
    (NEASC-CIHE) Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
    (NEASC-CTCI) Commission on Technical and Career Institutions
    Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
    Higher Learning Commission (HLC) (formerly, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA))
    Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges
    Western Association of Schools and Colleges
    (WASC-ACCJC) Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
    (WASC-ACSCU) Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities

Why accreditation is important?

There are several functions and benefits that an accredited college can offer students, alumni and stakeholders! Here are a few!

Accreditation warning & probation

An accreditation warning is given when the authorities of college are unable to meet the standards of accreditation. They are warned with a notice to assure that they can improve the quality of educational programs. The accreditation agency doesn’t tell them what they need to do, just a notification of the findings of their evaluation.

If a college doesn’t fix the issues found in the evaluation in a set amount of time (normally one-to-two years), the accrediting agency will place them on probation. Probation doesn’t mean that the school will be stripped of their accreditation, only that they must fix the issues in a timely manner to ensure operational effectiveness.

How to maintain accreditation

The best way for colleges to maintain their accreditation is by maintaining the quality of education. Even if they are planning to introduce new programs it is important for them to assure that new program will not affect the quality of previous programs. Also, institutions must be weary of the way money is being handled and enrollment numbers. Students can help with increasing and maintaining enrollment by joining ambassador organizations on their campus that allow them to speak to perspective students and sharing the experiences of their HBCU via social media and content sharing websites such as YouTube!

Why colleges lose accreditation and how they can get it back?

The common reason for losing accreditation is because college authorities are unable to meet the standards. Even after the warning, they are unable to maintain the quality due to which they have lose their accreditation. However, there are options available that will allow colleges to get their accreditation. They have to start with improving the quality of education and once again meet the standards of accreditation. Also, in cases of financial problems, the accreditation agency will determine an amount that can be raised to aid in the maintaining of accreditation. The raised funds show a willingness to comply to standards and rectify the issues brought to light by the evaluation.

I hope this allows students, alumni and stakeholders a better understanding of the process of accreditation! Stay tuned to HBCU Pulse for updates on Bennett College, Bethune-Cookman University and other HBCU’s as they fight to maintain accreditation.

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