By Linda Beattie
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It is heartbreaking to hear the all-too-true stories of college students who have paid thousands of dollars in tuition only to learn, if they choose to attend another school, that none of their credits will transfer. As the chair of Spalding University's Adult Accelerated Program, the oldest undergraduate degree program designed for adult learners in Kentucky, I hear such anecdotes daily. In most such cases, students have spent several years and all their federal financial aid or out-of-pocket funds only to find themselves with no degree, no transferable credits, and no more money to pursue their education at another institution.
In order for prospective students to be able to make wise choices concerning which college or university they wish to attend, they need to know the difference between regionally and nationally accredited schools. Regionally accredited institutions, which are usually public and private not-for-profit colleges and universities, are evaluated by a regional agency that oversees all such schools in a particular geographical location. Regional accreditation is recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and credits students earn at one regionally accredited institution usually transfer to other regionally accredited schools. A degree earned from a regionally accredited institution is also generally required for admission to a graduate program.
Nationally accredited institutions, usually for-profit institutions and trade schools, are non-traditional schools evaluated according to their similarity to other non-traditional schools. Credits earned at nationally accredited schools rarely transfer to regionally accredited institutions.
So, anyone contemplating earning a college degree should know that despite the fact that national accreditation sounds as though it should trump regional accreditation, the reverse is actually true. My advice to prospective students: "Don't apply until you know what type of accreditation the school in which you're interested possesses."
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