Going Back to College: Frequently
(Continued from page 3)
What is College Accreditation,
and Why is it Important?
Accreditation is a voluntary, independent review of
educational programs to
determine that the education provided is of uniform
and sound quality. Being
awarded accreditation ensures that an institution has
been evaluated and that
it met set standards of quality determined by the accrediting
granting the accreditation. A college or university's
accreditation is maintained
by continued adherence to the set criteria. The most
recognized type of accreditation in the United States
is regional accreditation, in which a school is accredited
by one of six geographically dispersed agencies approved
by the U.S. Department
of Education and the Council
for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). (For
more information, see the Accreditation
Can I Get Financial Aid for
If taking distance or online classes as part of a program
at a traditional, regionally accredited institution,
you will be assisted by the Federal and state financial
aid received for the full program. If it's an online
only program offered by a traditional institution, you
may be eligible for federal assistance. For more information,
see the Financial Aid FAQ.
For additional questions about distance education, please
You Get Your Degree Through Distance Learning?,
Education Gets Accolades and How
Do Employers View Online Degrees?
I Want to Return to College,
but am Not Sure Which College to Attend or What Career
or Degree to Pursue. Where Do I Start?
To start on a program to earn a college degree, or
to complete a course of study, you need to:
a. Take inventory. How many college
credits do you have? What non-credit courses did you
take? What are your skills? Even if the subjects don't
seem applicable to a major, they might count as elective
credits toward a degree.
b. Determine your goal. What field
of study are you interested in? What kind of degree?
c. Chart your course. Research colleges
and universities to find the best program for you, whether
it is a traditional campus based program, a campus and
distance based program, or full distance degree.
d. Outline your academic plan (each
step to your goal.) What do you need to do? Transfer
credits? Take remedial courses or exams? Have experience
For more information, see Going
Back to College: Getting Started.
How Do I Find Out What Education/Training
I Need for a Specific Career Field?
Look up your chosen field in The
Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). It provides educational
and training requirements by occupation.
I Have Chosen my Major, but
Need More Information on Careers in My Field Once I
Graduate. Where Can I Find Information About Careers
Related to My Major?
Visit the Career
Planning section. It will help you find careers
related to your chosen major, and locate employment
statistics and salary projections for your selected
field of study.
if I Never Took the ACT/SAT or Had a Low GPA in High
Usually, adults aren't required to take admissions tests
(i.e., the SAT or ACT), although they do need to take
graduate admission tests such as the GRE or GMAT if
attending graduate school. Many colleges offer a placement
test instead of admission test scores for older students,
and don't consider high school performance or outdated
test scores, especially with transfer students from
community colleges. Keep in mind that as a transfer
student, most institutions will consider past academic
performance and grade point average upon application,
and often require a minimum grade point average for
acceptance. (For frequently asked questions about the
ACT and SAT, including old test scores, see the ACT
Some students ask if they can begin again with a "clean
slate." Most colleges will require a record of
previous coursework. If it is not provided by the student,
it usually becomes known later (often through the financial
aid system) and a student may be dismissed for academic
dishonesty. (This issue has also been discussed
in our online forums.)
If your past academic history is below par, don't despair.
Colleges know that adult students often improve their
performance when returning because they take their education
seriously and are very motivated. Such students are
often given the opportunity for a new beginning. Also,
even though you may not have done well in the past,
old courses can be a source of college credit to your
new degree. Remember that the poor grades themselves
won't transfer to the new schoolonly the credit.