When choosing a school there are many factors to consider and many places to go for information, however if you are thinking about a college education one of the first things you should consider is the type of education that you are looking for. Ask yourself some important questions, see below.
1. Do I want to learn a specific skill?
2. How many years am I prepared to spend in college?
3. Am I willing to take general education courses such as math and science?
4. Do I want a degree where my credits can be transferred to other Universities and Colleges anywhere in the United States?
5. Is there a possibility that I would like to obtain a professional license or certificate from my training?
6. Will I be interested in pursuing a higher degree in the future?
The difference between a nationally accredited school and a regionally accredited school can be huge, on the surface one would think that a nationally accredited program is better and accepted in more places but the opposite is true, students who wish to continue their education should attend a regionally accredited school.
Nationally accredited schools work well for job skills and basic technical training; e.g. to become a mechanic- this is a hands on profession and many programs from nationally accredited schools are sponsored by the automobile companies. There are limited general education classes and students cannot transfer credits into a bachelors degree at a regionally accredited University. Often certificate courses and diplomas are earned quickly and students are able to enter the work force in a short time with a specific skill.
Regionally accredited schools are traditional colleges and universities, students may start with an associate degree, then move on to a bachelors degree, a masters degree and then a doctoral program. There are usually about 60 credit hours of general education in a bachelors degree program so a student must be prepared to do these and to spend time reading and studying. It can take many years to obtain a degree and then a graduate may still not have a specific skill. Degrees from regionally accredited schools may be less specialized than a diploma from a nationally accredited school but generally these degrees are more versatile and will open many doors in different fields.
How do I find out if a school is regionally or nationally accredited? The best thing to do is to perform a search online. If you find the accreditation and it is a really long name and you are still not sure what type it is, copy and paste it into your search engine.