To Accredit or Not To Accredit, That is The Question

Denise Roane

As our Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild grows, there are many educational issues we have had to take into consideration as we continually move forward with our program. One of the biggest, and hardest, was the choice to not pursue accreditation. The reason for this decision was due to a combination of things, however the two largest two arguments against going this route was a simple matter of a few dollars and a whole lot of sense.

Dollars

For any school looking toward becoming accredited, the process can be very costly and time consuming. Dollar-wise, the amount can be upwards of $10,000 - $15,000; not including travel expenses to and from mandatory conferences and/or meetings that may be required by the accreditation board or monetary funders. Timewise, collecting the required documentation and other materials needed in order to be considered for accreditation can be an incredibly lengthy process that may take anywhere from two to five years. For an older more established school who has the funding, resources, and desire to dream big...the ultimate goal is accreditation.

Sense

For a smaller startup school, such as the Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild, it makes more sense to stay small and community focused. By doing so, it allows the Academy the freedom it needs to focus its curriculum more towards what is immediately called for within the coding industry. Meaning, that our instructors can still maintain their focal point on our core curriculum while also being able to immediately introduce newer subjects as they present themselves in the field.

If the Academy were to take the steps to become a larger accredited entity it would lose some of its independence, and be forced to adhere to whatever rules and regulations may be set forth by whatever institutions that were applied to for not only accreditation but funding as well. For example, when applying for Title IV Federal Aid Funding a school must be accredited in order to be considered eligible. Once approved for accreditation, the school may not change the program curriculum used in the application process without filing to amend the program which will many times requires the school to reapply for program accreditation. Because of these types of restrictions smaller schools, especially startups such as ours, who either do not have the immediate funding or have yet to expand their educational plan as needed simply cannot complete the process without rendering themselves immobile.

**So, what does this mean for the Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild? **

As an educational institute that offers specialized training for an incredibly large and prosperous industry, accreditation may be desired at some point along the way. However, right now the school is doing very well at the size it is and our students are gaining the knowledge they need to be considered a competitive force within the coding industry. Ultimately, the decision to expand will be dependent upon the community at large and how fast it wants that school to grow.