By Garry W. Johnson
A reporter visited the websites of the high school’s accreditation agencies, the International Accrediting Agency for Online Universities and the Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation, and found they provided no address, names of staff, or listing of schools they certify.
Employees of Belford refused to give straight forward answers when a reporter called and asked why the accrediting agencies had such vague websites. When the reporter mentioned that the agencies weren’t listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s database, the employee responded – correctly, but irrelevantly – that the education department doesn’t accredit schools. Then he hung up. The reporter also called the accrediting agencies twice, but no one answered.
Post-Secondary Education Accreditation
Unlike bogus GED programs, college legitimacy is a little harder to nail down, especially in the United States. In other nations most colleges and universities are operated by the government, just as the public school system is here. But colleges in the U.S. are private (like diploma mills) or state facilities, and the federal government does not have a body of experts who investigate and approve individual schools. In fact, accreditation in this country is entirely a voluntary process. The government does not commission accrediting agencies; they are essentially private firms made up of experts for investigating and deeming worthy schools that are willing to be accredited. This lack of central supervision has led to there being good accreditation and bad accreditation.
Take for example an accrediting agency that calls itself the Accrediting Commission for Specialized Colleges. This agency accredits, among others, a school named Indiana Northern Graduate School. The name sounds impressive, but investigators found the school to be nothing more than a dairy farm in Gas City. The accrediting agency will accredit anyone willing to mail them a check for $110.