The Incarcerated Student’s Guide To Enrolling In College From Prison

By Christopher Zoukis

Enrolling in college from prison is no easy task.  There is the lack of viable information to overcome.  There is also the lack of accessible methods of communications to overcome, too.  And, sadly, there is also the lack of informed college enrollment personnel to help the incarcerated student navigate the sometimes troublesome waters of enrollment in college from prison.  But fear not: here is an easy-to-understand guide which presents the seven steps to enrolling in college from prison.  Image courtesy

1) Locate a Resource Which Profiles College Correspondence Programs

There are currently three texts in the field of prison education reference which fulfill this need.  The most popular is probably the Prisoners’ Guerrilla Handbook to Correspondence Programs in the U.S. and Canada (3rd Edition) by Jon Marc Taylor, Ph.D. (Prison Legal News, 2009).  Another title in this field is College in Prison by Bruce Michaels.  “College in Prison” is a good text, but I feel Dr. Taylor’s is probably the better of the two since it profiles many more correspondence programs and is better established.  The final prison education reference text which profiles correspondence courses for prisoners is my own work, Education Behind Bars: A Win-Win Strategy for Maximum Security (Sunbury Press, 2012). 

2) Verify the Accreditation Status of the College Correspondence Program

When perusing these prison education reference texts, the incarcerated student will find a number of fields contained within each correspondence program’s profile.  One of these fields deals with accreditation.  Simply put, accreditation is the status of being approved by a body which ascertains the quality of an academic program.  Hence, proper accreditation equates to not only a quality educational experience, but also dictates if other schools will accept credits gained at a particular school and if the degree awarded will be accepted by a professional body.

The gold standard of accreditation is accreditation by one of the six regional accreditation agencies which are approved by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).  The six regional accreditation agencies are as follows:

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