There are many parameters on which to assess a post-secondary school’s commitment to excellence, and one of the best of those is accreditation. In celebration of Spring Arbor University’s 10-year accreditation renewal with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) earlier this year, this article reviews the meaning and importance of accreditation for both universities and their students.
What is Accreditation?
When a college or university achieves accreditation, it indicates that a larger accrediting body has scrutinized their programs and ensured they meet intensive academic standards. Part of this review entails the determination that these standards comply with program requirements upheld across various educational institutions. All elements of the academic institution are reviewed – from course content to financial forecasts – to guarantee that schools that receive accreditation are both academically sound and fiscally stable.
Accreditation is a significant amount of work for both the accrediting body and the accreditation-seeking university, particularly since schools must renew their accreditation status every few years, but this effort is well worth it in terms of what the accolade means for the school.
What is the HLC?
Established in 1895, the HLC is recognized by the United States Department of Education as a leading accrediting organization for more than a century. Today, it oversees the review of colleges and universities in 19 states across the country, from Arizona to Michigan.
Aiming in their accreditation process to enforce the quality of education and to support advances within the industry, the HLC assesses various parameters, including the mission, integrity, teaching and learning, and institutional effectiveness of a candidate institution. These are the same aspects on which Spring Arbor University has been assessed since its first award of HLC accreditation in 1960.
Why is Accreditation Important?
Accreditation is important because it reinforces the caliber of the academic experience that the university provides. Since being accredited means incorporating benchmarks that match similarly-accredited programs across the country, students often rely on a school’s accreditation status to reassure themselves that they are developing the same skill sets as others in their degree area at different institutions.
Employers appreciate accredited universities for the same reason: Such schools offer potential employers a guarantee that an applicant’s academic preparation has been both ample and rigorous. In other words, if a potential future employee has a great resume but a degree from a school without an accrediting credential, the employer might wonder exactly how prepared that candidate will be for employment.
Students can also be grateful for accreditation when it comes to transferring: If a student needs to switch schools for any reason, credits earned within an accredited college or university can typically transfer more readily between post-secondary institutions than can those from an unaccredited schools.
Accreditation is only one of many benefits that come with selecting Spring Arbor University for your degree, but it is an essential aspect to consider as it signals the university’s commitment to quality and to its students. Achieving an HLC accreditation is an institutional landmark, and it is one that Spring Arbor University honors each semester by delivering exceptional education opportunities to every enrolled student.