Florida and New York’s board of education have a clear understandable process where my state California, has a confusing process where new college start ups are governed by Consumer Affairs. I found the Post Secondary Consultant site where the owner of the site specializes in helping people obtain proper liscening to operate a college or trade school anywhere in the U.S. I believe it will be worth your while to look at his site. Accreditation is simply a validation process by which institutions of higher education are evaluated against established standards to ensure a high level of educational quality. It is typically accomplished through a peer-review process in which faculty from accredited institutions help to conduct evaluations of either new non-accredited institutions or accredited institutions seeking renewal. The standards used to conduct these evaluations vary but in general they assess: the institution’s mission, goals and objectives, resources and resource allocation, student admission requirements, student support services and the quality of the faculty and educational offerings (Elearners). Unlike the practices of most other countries, in the United States accreditation of institutions of higher education is not conducted by the government.
Instead, it is a voluntary process that is implemented by private nongovernmental accrediting agencies. At present, there are both regional as well as national agencies involved in the accreditation process. The only role that the government plays is to evaluate these accrediting agencies using well developed criteria in order to identify those considered to be “reliable authorities” on the quality of institutions of higher education (Elearners). Simply choose the type of accreditation that best suits your school, and follow those guidelines. Here is a list of accrediting agencies. Seeking accreditation is an option, but unaccredited colleges cannot compete, because of its negative stigma. In my opinion, an accreditation is stamp of approval, and it sets guidelines and policies that should be modeled by all learning institutions. My online university had an open admissions policy for Associates and Bachelors, but had the requirement of a Bachelors Degree to be admitted to the Masters programs. Your admissions standards should reflect your mission and goal statement. If your school’s focus is in on academic achievement, then you and your stakeholders holders must have requirements that reflect this idea. This is an important issue that needs to be discussed with you and your partners.
The goal in the beginning phase of the creation of your school, is getting students. The lower your fees, the better. The rule is charge low for some time then charge higher when you have reached an enrollment target. There are two school’s of thinking when it comes to college tuition. Schools with higher fees are sometimes seen as “worthy”, while colleges with low fees are seen as cheap. I do not believe this. I would charge a bit more than your local community college. I did not charge tuition, rather I charged for grading papers and tests. I would start by offering free to low cost courses just to spark interest and get actual students. Also begin with a very open admissions policy, and over time when your enrollement grows you can change to a more challenging admissions policy. Enter appropriate online chat rooms through Google and Yahoo and announc e your courses.
Post certain courses on Craiglists classes section. Go to every free online advertising source and advertise your school. Go to local coffee houses and post flyers. Me and my partners had around 10 students, and we all operated out of our separate homes. If my college start up starts up again, and we find that our enrollment is growing and the need for additional staff increases, then I think we will go with an outside office. That is the rule of thumb; if revenues, and enrollment increases, an outside office is neseseary. With those increases come the need to hire additional staff to help keep up with recruiting and admissions. Note that some accrediting agencies may require a physical office structure and some sort of library. Accrediting agencies may have flexible interpretation of a centralized space, and a library. Investigate these two aspects carefully on your potential accreditors website. Before applying, have NCAC review your colleges progress.
They charge a small nominal fee. The NCAC independently determines if a college meets the high standards and stringent requirements of traditional and distance learning practices. We evaluate the policies and procedures to ensure they meet our established criteria. Remember. You can operate your university unaccredited, but not state approved. I believe that you will need to work harder to recruit students and compete with other accredited schools. Getting your school up and running is easy. The difficult part is maintaining momentum. You know that expression “Life Happens.” Well that was the main reason for me to push aside my online college venture. After applying for accredititation, I got a steady stream of students. I had 100 students when I closed shop. Life pulled me and my partners in different directions, and we were not able to keep up. My students went on to be accepted to other online schools, and my partners continued on with their lives.