Over the last decade I’ve helped hundreds of colleges and universities across the United States prepare for accreditation reviews. I recently summarized much of what I’ve learned through my work in a new book, Five Dimensions of Quality: A Common Sense Guide to Accreditation and Accountability.
Let me share with you some of the many ways that colleges and universities can annoy their accreditor and thereby make the accreditation process a lot harder than it needs to be.
Start at the last minute, and don’t bother reading the directions. Instead, make sure you understand exactly what your accreditor is looking for … and why. If your accreditor wants student enrollment information, for example, is the request because of concerns about student success, your college’s financial viability, or something else?
Ignore your mission and goals. Instead, present your evidence in the context of your mission and goals. Reviewers looking at that student enrollment information need to know, for example, how important access and opportunity are to your college’s mission.
Present everything through rose-colored glasses, and sweep any shortcomings under the rug. If your accreditor has questions or requests you don’t want to answer, just ignore them. Instead, remember that honesty is the best policy. There’s no perfect college, and presenting your college as trouble-free may raise a red flag about what you might be hiding. Provide a balanced picture of positives and negatives. <Read more.>