As a student, I can recall several times when professors have shared that the program I am in is “accredited.” My mental response was “That’s nice.” I didn’t care. All I wanted to know was when the next assignment was due, and what I had to do in order to pass that assignment, the class, and then get my degree. Sure, it is great that my program has been given a stamp of approval by some mystery third party, but all of that is outside my realm of experiences.
Then a friend of mine at another university shared that they had failed their bid at re-accreditation. When she graduated, her degree would be from a non-accredited program. I asked her what that meant for her. She told me that it would be harder for her to find a job because employers would see her degree as having less value than one from an applicant who had graduated from an accredited program. Some employers might not even consider her qualified, despite her degree. She had always wanted to move to the New York-New Jersey area, and now she wasn’t sure she could find a job in that competitive market. New Jersey actually has a law requiring applicants to notify employers if their degree is from a non-accredited institution. At that moment, I became alarmed. Does that mean that all of my hard work might come to mean nothing if the program I was in suddenly lost its accreditation?
All of a sudden my immediate focus of passing the current assignment and class seemed less relevant. After all, my current assignment and class would mean nothing if I couldn’t find a job after receiving my degree. I was upset for my friend, who had always studied hard to maintain a high GPA so that she could go anywhere once she graduated. Now her options were limited. Attending and graduating from an accredited program suddenly became important to me, and I realized how important it was all along.
In today’s world of online universities and degrees, employers are concerned about hiring quality individuals. In today’s job market, it can be hard to find a job when there are few positions and many applicants. Employers look to whittle down the applicants they consider, and one of the first filters they use is whether or not the applicant has attended an accredited program.
Don’t let all of your hard work be in vain. Make sure your program is accredited, or you may have just gone to school for nothing.
Elbert E. Maynard
MSA Principal Fellow
East Carolina University