Frequently Asked Questions
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), an independent corporation, is the arm of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA) that accredits colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning. NCA is one of the nation’s six regional accrediting agencies. HLC accredits degree-granting educational institutions in the North Central region of the United States, including Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
The accreditation process has been used by colleges and universities for decades as a voluntary system of self-examination and self-improvement. Moreover, accreditation assures the public that an institution has been reviewed by an outside agency and met that agency’s criteria for accreditation. More recently, without accreditation from a federally recognized accrediting agency (such as HLC), a college or university is not eligible for many kinds of federal support, including federal student-aid programs.
The Commission established a new set of criteria for accreditation in 2004-2005 that includes:
1. Mission and Integrity
2. Preparing for the Future
3. Student Learning and Effective Teaching
4. Acquisition, Discovery, and Application of Knowledge
5. Engagement and Service
Each criterion has four or five core components.
A ten-person HLC consultant-evaluator team, made up of administrators, staff and faculty from other institutions, will visit the campus during the academic year 2009-2010. Members of the team are all trained in using the HLC’s criteria and bring a broad range of expertise and experience to the process.
The team will seek to validate North Central College’s Self-Study Report. The team will also offer recommendations and advice about institutional concerns and issues for the future.
The team may recommend continued accreditation with no recommended follow-up activities before the next scheduled visit. The team could also require a focused visit to gauge the College’s response to particular issues or recommend other kinds of progress or monitoring reports.
The institution will look carefully at the team’s report as part of the College’s strategic planning process, both for validation of what the College is doing well and for advice about ways in which the College can improve. Particular issues may be immediately referred to the appropriate committee or office for examination and action.