Accreditation is important when choosing an online college

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Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2012 8:00 pm

Searching for an online college requires more than narrowing down universities that offer the degree you're searching for, their locations and their expense. One very important aspect you also should review and consider is if the university is accredited.

Narrowing your higher education search down to accredited online colleges is important for several reasons:

* Quality classes: Accrediting organizations review colleges to determine if the schools are meeting certain standards of quality. These reviews also provide feedback to the universities on ways to improve education. In addition, Department of Education-recognized accrediting organizations are also reviewed to make certain they are using effective accrediting practices. With all of this review, students enrolling in accredited online colleges know that the quality of education meets a certain standard.

* Financial aid: Financial aid is a must for many students, and some forms of financial aid might not be available to you if you are attending an online college that isn't accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education. Frequently, federal aid programs do not provide financial aid for online colleges that are not accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education.

* Career searching: Because accreditation means that the school has met certain standards of quality, your potential employers may research your college or university to verify that it is accredited. It's up to students to individually perform well under the accredited structure. Employers interested in the quality of education held by potential employees may be interested both in the grades you have earned, as well as whether your institution is accredited.

The federal government isn't involved in the accreditation process, but the U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of accredited colleges and universities at ope.ed.gov/accreditation. This list only contains higher education programs located in the United States. Several accrediting agencies do review colleges and universities located outside of the United States, so if you're searching for a degree from an international school, check to see how the university was reviewed and accredited.

Narrowing down the college search can feel like a huge undertaking, but know that when you find a school that offers the degree of your choice, is local or provides you with easy to use online education capabilities, is affordable and accredited, you may have found the perfect higher education school for you.

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