Accreditation FAQs

Accreditation FAQ

What is the Higher Learning Commission?

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional accreditors in the United States. HLC accredits degree-granting post-secondary educational institutions in the United States. HLC is as an institutional accreditor, accrediting the institution as a whole.

What are the HLC Criteria for Accreditation?

The Criteria for Accreditation are the standards of quality by which HLC determines whether an institution merits accreditation or reaffirmation of accreditation. The HLC has established five Criteria for Accreditation, each containing core components and subcomponents.

Criterion 1. Mission

Criterion 2. Integrity: Ethical and Responsible Conduct

Criterion 3. Teaching and Learning: Quality, Resources, and Support

Criterion 4. Teaching and Learning: Evaluation and Improvement

Criterion 5. Institutional Effectiveness, Resources and Planning

Central Lakes College’s Assurance Argument demonstrates how it meets these criteria.

Why is institutional accreditation important to CLC?

The importance of accreditation is that

  • it creates a set of quality standards for all education institutions or programs,
  • provides access to federal and state funding,
  • maintains private sector confidence, and
  • makes transferring credits easier.

Accreditation aims to ensure accountability of schools and degree programs which boosts public trust and confidence. 

When will the HLC reaccreditation site visit take place?

The reaccreditation site visit is scheduled for April 3-4, 2023.

Who will be on the team? 

A team of trained peer reviewers, members of the HLC Peer Review Corps, who are volunteer faculty and administrators from institutions accredited by HLC. Peer reviewer bios will be published once confirmed.

What will the team do during the visit?

Before arriving on campus, the Peer Review team will review CLC’s Assurance Argument, Federal Compliance Filing,  Student Survey results, past accreditation reports, as well as our website and other documents they might request.  During the visit, they will seek to validate the content of the report and the data that support it.  In addition, they will raise concerns that need attention or issues that may confront the college in the future. Team members will hold a variety of meetings with individuals, committees, and other groups across the campus.  Several of these will be specific meetings, but there also will be several open meetings that anyone may attend.

A site visit agenda will be published once known.

How will the findings be reported?

The HLC team will write a report that addresses the Criteria and Core Components for accreditation and send a draft to the campus a few weeks after the visit. The team will note the components that have been met, any that have not been met, and any qualifications or concerns regarding them. After receiving the draft, the college will have a chance to correct factual errors, and the final report will be submitted to the HLC.  At that point, the report will be submitted to the HLC’s Institutional Actions Council (IAC) for review.

What kinds of recommendations might the team make?

There are essentially three possible results:

  • The institution meets the criteria without concerns.
  • The institution meets the criteria with concerns.
  • The institution does not meet the criteria.

In the first case, CLC would be set for the next 10-year review cycle.  In the second, CLC would retain its accreditation status but would need to work on one or more areas for improvement and submit reports and other evidence that it is making progress to address the concerns.  In the third case, CLC most likely would be put on probation.  While the institution would continue to operate, it would have significant work to do to reclaim its accreditation, and it is possible that it would not receive any federal funding while responding to those concerns. 

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