Post secondary educational experts say that there are several very important factors one should consider when they are determining what community college is right for them. One of the factors many say is the most important is accreditation. If a community college is not accredited, the credits one earns as well as the degree they possess at the end of their studies may not have much value in the outside world. When a college is accredited that means that their facility and programs not only meet, but many times exceed, the specific basic academic and financial standards. The standards are set by private non profit organizations that the US Department of Education or the Council of Higher Education Accreditation has recognized as accrediting agencies. Beyond the basic academic standards there are specialized programs focused on one particular course of study, such as nursing, that also need to be evaluated and accredited so that the students taking those courses are properly prepared for their intended occupations.
Studies have shown that accreditation is important in several different ways. Not only will the courses one takes from an accredited community college weigh more in the workforce, those students that are seeking grants and loans to community college must be enrolled in an accredited facility or they will be unable to receive financial help. Experts have also stated that many colleges and universities will not accept transfer credits from a community college that has not been accredited by either a national, regional or professional association of education. Studies have shown that many people have fallen victim to diploma mills wherein diplomas are sold to people who will then find out that the diploma they were given provides no actual value for employment or even to transfer to a college or university.
While accreditation is, in fact, a voluntary process, and according to experts, can take several years for a program or facility to receive accreditation, it is a high priority goal to which actual legitimate programs and institutions aspire because it is an important validation as to the quality of the specific institution or program. Community colleges are also unable to receive federal help unless they are actually accredited. The assurance one can feel after attending and receiving an accredited community college degree is second to none and is well worth the extra effort when one is researching which college will best suit them in their particular course of studies.