The AJC has a good piece on how the loss of accreditation could affect students’ prospect for colleges.
Tied to Atlanta’s probationary status by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the news story cites the experiences of Clayton parents when that system lost its accreditation. (It has since regained it.) The reporter also interviews APS parents concerned over their children’s futures.
Among their comments:
“Most [colleges] will look at an applicant, especially if the circumstances are explained,” said J. Lynn Zimmerman, the senior vice provost for undergraduate education at Emory University.
Similar advice came from Nancy McDuff, the director of admissions at the University of Georgia.
“If a student comes from an unaccredited school, we have other ways to evaluate that student,” she said. “And here in Atlanta, we are certainly aware of the circumstances (at APS), and we won’t hold that against the student.”
I have received several well informed e-mails over the last few months from Dennis Brown, a former high school headmaster, who wonders whether students really are in jeopardy of being turned down from colleges when systems lose accreditation.
While the AJC has spoken to admissions offices for all of its articles on the impact of accreditation loss, he suggests that what is really needed are hard numbers from the schools. Yes, he says the schools often tell us it could be a factor but has it ever been a cause to reject a student? That’s a great point.
In my over 30 years as a head of school at the high school level, including college counseling and recommendation-writing responsibilities, I found that college acceptances lost because of attending a non-SACS accredited school or being home schooled, was a paper tiger. Why not survey a cross-section of public and private post-secondary schools in the SACS region asking: 1) how many students who do not have high school diplomas from SACS accredited schools are attending your institution, and 2) how many students lost acceptances to your program because they are not graduates of SACS accredited programs?
Oh you’ll get many subjective narrative answers as your AJC has printed before. Requiring additional testing and other means of verifying ability of the applicant, etc. But it seems to me that before the AJC gets parents and students riled up by printing it as fact, substantiating it with stats not narrative, would be doing the public a service.
I also put the question to our higher ed reporter Laura Diamond who responded: I spoke with Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta about this during the Clayton situation. Because they were all aware of it, there were no problems of students getting admitted. Same thing when students applied to colleges out-of-state. Guidance counselors included a note and college admissions officers are aware of these issues and rarely hold it against students for admission purposes.
So, bottom line for APS parents, it makes sense to call the colleges that your teens are interested in attending before you panic and pull your children out of schools where they are doing well and where they are near completion. It does not seem remotely possible that APS will lose its accreditation as the school board has made every indication that it will do everything possible to retain it.
(As to extra testing to be admitted when you are from a non-accredited high school, I wonder myself if that would be waived if a student had good grades and strong SAT scores.)
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog