Ask the Right Questions:
A Student Guide to Higher Education

A roadmap, for students and other stakeholders, to the choices available within higher education, the questions to ask along the journey, as well as sources to help inform you.

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Doing your research in advance is the greatest assurance that you will be making the best choice. Before or while attending college and even after, there are many questions you will need to ask throughout your journey.

You can do this with high school counselors, college advisors, parents, friends, and insightful individuals at the places you work. First, however, it is very useful to have a reflective conversation with yourself.

You might ask yourself questions like:

  1. Why do you want to go to college?
  2. Do you have an interest in a specific course of study (major or focus) you want to pursue?
  3. What questions do you want to ask of the college staff and representatives when you are weighing your choices?

There are numerous questions to ask yourself and others and points of information that will be very helpful to you in making choices. That is exactly the purpose of this guide: to help you make informed choices.

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Quality Assurance: The Role of Accreditation and Why It Matters


When considering where to go and what to study at college, the college and program accreditation can affect your career and future opportunities. You should consider accredited institutions. Accrediting agencies verify that an academic program offers a quality education, so that you are prepared for your career. There are two kinds of accreditation:

Institutional accreditation means the college or university meets broad organizational quality standards. Institutional accreditation alone will often not be adequate to ensure that you can get a job after you graduate.

Specialized or professional (also called programmatic) accreditation means an academic program at the college or university meets quality educational standards for that profession.  For some programs, more than one programmatic accreditation is available, i.e. Business.  Be certain the institution is transparent about the type of accreditation available.


Make sure the college specifies whether it has institutional or programmatic accreditation, or both, then you can then go to the accreditors websites to verify this information.

More About Accreditation


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

HLC Mission

Advance the common good through quality assurance of higher education as the leader in equitable, transformative and trusted accreditation in the service of students and member institutions.

About HLC