Making Sense of Accreditation

I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about college accreditation given the fact that we will be hosting a team for our “Comprehensive Quality Review” in the spring of this year.  The team represents a peer review group from other colleges who have been trained by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) to conduct these on-site reviews as part of the overall reaccreditation process.  As you might imagine, extensive work goes into the documentation and preparation for such a review.  And we’ve elected to utilize HLC’s Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) – an accreditation methodology that involves continuous improvement projects and efforts, so our attention to matters related to accreditation is also continuous.

So why bother going through all of this to be a regionally accredited college anyway?  Well, it’s important and brings value to the organization and our students in a number of ways.

First, accredited institutions are held to very high standards in their  processes, practices, and performance results, thus assuring educational quality.

Second, this process offers an external peer review of our operations and the extent to which we are meeting expected standards; evaluative feedback from outside the organization is always helpful and often challenges us to be even better at what we do.

And finally, regional accreditation is required of the College if our students are to be eligible for federal financial aid, something that is important to at least 50% of our program students in enabling them to go to school.  FVTC has maintained its regional accreditation through the HLC since 1974.

In addition to staff and student surveys, another aspect of this review process involves seeking public comment about the College for the evaluators’ consideration.  We would certainly welcome your feedback via a link found on the FVTC website.

In addition to institutional accreditation, you may also be interested in knowing that many of our programs also undergo individual accreditation through additional oversight authorities.  Some examples of programs that also hold individual accreditations include nursing programs, dental programs, aviation programs, and culinary arts.

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