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College Accreditation Research Paper

Marketing Research Accreditation Research Project April 25, 2011 Being accredited is how an institution is recognized as a university having a legitimate degree program. The value of the degree you receive is based upon accreditation, college ranking, and the perception of the institutions image in organizations and society. As my problem statement I would like to find out what the value of accreditation is, what it takes to become accredited, maintain accreditation, and why some degrees from accredited institutions are not recognized by other institutions and business organizations.

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Some research objectives I would like to achieve would be to find out if the loss of credits in the transfer from school to school is due to different accreditation standards in the different accreditation organizations. Also, with comparing accredited schools, does the rank of the school make the degree received more or less valuable? Another objective is to find out what makes a degree from one accredited school more valuable than a degree from another accredited school. And finally, I would like to find out if a degree from a non-traditional school is less valuable than a degree from a traditional “Brick and Mortar” school.

To solve my problem statement and answer my research objectives I will be conducting exploratory research using secondary data. All schools in the United States that are accredited, or are seeking accreditation must go through their regional accreditation organization. There are six regional accreditation organizations and many others that oversee accreditation globally. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCAHLC) is the organization that oversees the accreditation for NSU.

Not only do the six regional organizations overlook the colleges but also organizations that accredit schools for business programs as well; such as, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. The standards that each college is reviewed upon are the overall mission of the college, objectives and goals, student requirements for admission, services available to students, quality of education, the reputation of their faculty, expected student achievement, curriculum, research activities, financial and academic support, and financial capacity of the institution.

All accredited schools must continually renew their accreditation to maintain the certification. Distance learning type colleges are becoming more and more popular every day. As the younger generations who are more experienced and comfortable with computers are getting older, the convenience of getting a degree online – on your own time – is becoming very popular. Many people have the connotation that this type of degree is not legitimate and is just taking the easy road; this however is not true.

There are countless online “colleges” you can get a degree from that are not legitimate (degree and diploma mills), where you can basically purchase a degree from them with substandard or no academic study at all and receive your diploma in the mail. However, there are many distance learning universities that are highly acclaimed and very much so legitimate institutions. One of which is the University of Phoenix, which is the largest and most respected distance learning institution in the industry, with over 200 campuses worldwide. They let you earn your degree on your terms.

They have online classes available in addition to being able to go to a local campus for class as well. Blended courses are also available to offer the best of both worlds. The University of Phoenix has a goal of accessibility to higher education, flexible scheduling, centralized curriculum design, all while providing you with an exceptional education. The University of Phoenix is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. They are also accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs to offer over eight business degrees.

Even though they are a top notch institution, the University of Phoenix receives quite a bit of criticism and speculation because tuition is extremely high and they are a for-profit organization. According to an article written in the New York Times, and quoted in a higher education watchdog website, “scores of students are dropping out of the University of Phoenix, the largest chain of for-profit colleges in the country, fed up because their academic experiences bear no resemblance to the promises that were made to them by duplicitous recruiters. Most of these students are leaving hugely indebted.

Contributing to the poor graduation rate, current and former students who studied at University of Phoenix campuses or online complained of instructional shortcuts, unqualified professors, and recruiting abuses” (Burd, 1). There are some business organizations that do not recognize them as a credible education system. For example, I worked for the insurance company Geico, and they offered tuition reimbursement if you attend an accredited university. However because of their unorthodox style of teaching, and not being a traditional four year university, they did not recognize them as a legitimate university and would not reimburse any tuition.

All of the accrediting organizations are overseen by an organization called CHEA, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. CHEA ensures that all the regulations and standards are uniform throughout the agencies, and based on their definition, all the organizations should operate the same way and work together to allow ease of transferring from one school to the next, and if in different regions, the accrediting agencies should have the same guidelines. The rules are stated that if transferring from one accredited school to another accredited school, all of the students’ credits have to be accepted.

Where students run into problems is that not all schools have the same listing for the same class, and if listed differently, will not be counted towards core classes; thus only counted as an elective. The student would get the credits applied but would have to retake the same course. I ran into this situation when I transferred from the University of Arizona to Northeastern State University. There were a handful of classes that did not transfer because of the way they were listed.

I requested for them to be reconsidered, and some were applied, but there ended up being three classes that got credits applied to general electives, but I had to retake the courses again. Another example is my mother; she obtained her associates degree from Glendale Community College, and even though she had her two year degree completed already NSU did not recognize degree listing and she was forced to retake some classes and take additional classes on top of them to fulfill the requirements of the new program.

The value of a college degree is associated with the institution having or not having accreditation. The university being accredited benefits the school for funding, student recruitment, and student retention, which leads to more and better departments. the faculty and staff benefit by gaining a sense of pride, and benefits the students by assuring that their education is of the highest quality and allows students to be able to apply for financial services; also the degree is more respected when looking for a job after graduation.

A degree from an institution that is accredited is much more valuable than a degree without the accreditation. With that information gathered, I can conclude that as far as accreditation is concerned, non-traditional and traditional colleges hold the same weight in value. However, as far as society’s perception is concerned, an accredited traditional institution is more valuable than the latter. All colleges are ranked in order of the best schools. The top 100 list is the top 100 schools to attend; they are the best of the best, the cream of the crop.

One organization that creates the list of top ranked schools is U. S. News and World Report. Factors they use are academic reputation, graduation and freshman retention, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, graduation rate, and the alumni giving rate. The top five schools on their list are Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and Stanford. Looking at the list of ranked schools, it is easy to tell that the schools near the top of the list yield a more valuable degree, and ones near the bottom, although fine institutions, produce a less valuable degree.


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