Stony Brook University is seeking reaccreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, more commonly known as “Middle States.” This evaluation process is questioned for causing the university to care more about its reputation than its students.
This provides valuable information to the public, especially those applying to colleges. It allows potential students to gain access on prices, programs, odds of getting a job once they graduate and scholarships available. I think Middle States is providing information that all current and soon-to-be college students should have in order to make an informed decision on where to attend school.
From March 29 to April 2, Middle States peer-reviewers will come to campus and examine Stony Brook. Middle States is a non-government, voluntary organization that looks at the institution as a whole, not specific programs within the school. They use a peer evaluation system, where professionals in the education field volunteer to assess universities and colleges.
I think this process will give Stony Brook students, as well as other college students from other accredited schools, confidence in knowing SBU and other institutions are putting effort into improving the education they provide. It gives me assurance that Stony Brook is trying to grow into an even more prestigious university and has actually provided me with the promised services.
Stony Brook was first accredited in 1957. As of right now, 527 institutions are accredited and eight are pending. Middles States does not rank colleges because they all have different programs, types of students and purposes.
Stony Brook will be judged based on 14 standards. They ensure the mission statement of the school clearly defines the purpose of the institution, that the curriculum is designed to ensure students receive a comprehensive general education, that the school assesses student learning and that the institution assesses itself.
If the school passes the reaccreditation process, that means it lives up to its promises to the students. In other words, the accreditation process is checking to make sure Stony Brook actually does what it says it will. It checks if the students are being challenged as much Stony Brook says they are and also checks if the standards President Stanley has promised the students are up to the levels the promised levels.
The accreditation process raises the question of whether the administration actually cares about if the students are benefitting or not because they may just be building up the school and their programs to look good for the judges. Stony Brook has been accused of caring more about its reputation than its students in order to attract more applicants and compete with other universities. Some may even think that the observers on campus would be disruptive.
This also raises the question of whether the accreditation process is even worth it if institutions are pressured to act a certain way. This would lessen the value of the entire stigma of being “accredited.”
I think that even if Stony Brook improves programs and builds up the school for accreditation, it still makes it better. The intentions of the school are not transparent enough to be able to tell if they are only doing it to earn their accreditation.
Middle States claims to strengthen value and integrity. I agree with this because the school has to make sure they provide the services they claim they will. It holds the school accountable for providing the best education they can, and if they fail to do so, they could lose their accreditation.
Middle States has forced Stony Brook to provide actual evidence that they provided all the academic amenities promised to students. It gives them the opportunity to assess the institution, which they may not have done if they did not have to. It encourages the university to strive for better things and make the learning experience better for its students.
There is no doubt that Stony Brook wants to impress the judges and make itself a more reputable university, but who would not want that? I think it pushes the university to make improvements in the school. In my opinion, who cares about whether or not Stony Brook is doing it for the students benefit? We are benefiting from the improvements regardless.