Regardless of what type of institution you plan on attending (four-year college, vocational school, community college, or an online-only institution) there are two questions that you need to know the answers to about your prospective institution. Finding out that your institution is accredited will ensure that your credentials are both respected and accepted by future employers and schools. Knowing how your school gets its money and the priorities of the institution will ensure that you find the best fit for you.

Accredited schools have met evaluation criteria for their academic standards, admissions requirements, faculty, and mission. Receiving a credential from an accredited institution makes it easier for students to find a job or get into another academic program after graduation. Nonaccredited institutions have not received a stamp of approval, and any credential obtained from such a school is unlikely to be trusted.

Nonprofit schools reinvest tuition money into infrastructure, students, and campus resources. For-profit institutions reinvest little tuition money into the school and instead return the profits to individuals who invested in the school. In this sense, for-profit institutions are run much more like a company trying to sell a product: education.