There’s a lot to consider when picking an online college, such as cost, schedules and flexibility. Before you get to those details though, make sure the colleges on your short list are 1) regionally accredited and 2) not-for-profit. Read on to find out why.
Not all accreditation is the same
Accreditation is a big word for making sure educational institutions meet and maintain rigorous quality standards. Schools voluntarily work with private accrediting agencies who do regular peer assessments to determine if schools meet their criteria. The U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of accrediting agencies they deem to be reliable authorities on higher education quality.
There are two kinds of accreditation: regional and national. While national sounds more impressive, it’s not necessarily better. Here are some important differences between the two:
|Regional Accreditation||National Accreditation|
|Applies to colleges in a specific area of the country. Averett University, for example, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which works with schools in 11 southern states.||Applies to institutions across the country, typically vocational, technical or career-based, for-profit schools|
|More than 85 percent of colleges in the U.S. are regionally accredited, including most online schools 1||About 15 percent of U.S. colleges are nationally accredited|
|Compares schools in the region; is considered the gold standard and more prestigious accreditation||Compares schools nationally with similar curricula or focus|
|Regional accredited credits are generally accepted by both regionally- and nationally-accredited schools and are easy to transfer||Credits are accepted only at other nationally- accredited schools|
|Accept all corporate tuition reimbursement plans||May not be eligible for corporate tuition reimbursement|
|Widely recognized and preferred by employers requiring degrees||Not always recognized in professions requiring licensing such as teaching, accounting, engineering and healthcare|
For-profit vs. not-for-profit
You may not think about schools as business ventures, but many are. Their owners and shareholders want to make a profit, which means they must balance quality education with good financial returns. The problem is, 88 percent of the 1,200+ campuses that closed in the last five years were operated by for-profit colleges.2 Accreditation problems and falling enrollment were among the culprits.Not-for-profit schools are publicly owned, usually managed by a board of trustees and receive federal, state and private funding. Most not-for-profit colleges’ sole purpose is to create a learning environment that serves students’ interests. At Averett University, our mission is to prepare students to serve and lead as catalysts for positive change. Our not-for-profit status helps us keep students’ costs lower than 80 percent of other private colleges in Virginia.
Once you’ve checked the boxes on a school’s accreditation and not-for-profit status, the next step is to find out more about their online program offerings, resources, staff and how to apply. Averett University sets the standard in Virginia with up-to-date, practical curriculum; highly-credentialed instructors; and a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. We have a staff member for every 19 students and our average class size is 15, so you get lots of personal attention in and out of the classroom. We make it super easy to apply in just three steps, and our admissions and financial aid staff are available to help and answer questions. With the option to earn your degree online or on campus in Danville, Roanoke, or Quantico, we’ve got you covered.
1Regional Accreditation vs National Accreditation for Online Colleges, geteducated.com
2 Vasquez, M., Bauman, D. “How America’s College-Closure Crisis Leaves Families Devastated,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 2019