MSCHE – Accreditation pays off…

Brian Pinto has published only one article with the Voice, but it touches on one of the most important things to happen to Athabasca University in its more than 30 year history. In 2005, AU became the first university to ever be fully accredited in both Canada and the United States — an achievement that was nearly five year in the making. While this is expected to make AU much more attractive to international students who do not wish to have to choose between a U.S. and a Canadian degree, there may be other benefits as well. On October 28, Mr. Pinto shared his experience with applying to an American university after obtaining an AU degree.

I am sure most Voice readers are aware of Athabasca University’s recent institutional accreditation in the U.S. under the governing body of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). It is a milestone and an achievement that has not been attained by any other Canadian university currently under the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). We, as Athabasca University students, should enthusiastically observe this triumph as a chance to seek avenues that in the past were not easily accessible for future studies. Athabasca University prides itself in breaking down barriers to education and I strongly urge future grads to take advantage of opportunities such as these to reach their goals.

I am currently enrolled in Athabasca University’s Bachelor of Management Three-Year Post Diploma Program, which I will complete next month. I was also recently accepted into the Master of Science in Education Program at Niagara University in New York, and I am scheduled to begin in January of 2006. My teachables are marketing and information processing. Since Athabasca University and Niagara University fall under the same accreditation body, the MSCHE, I was able to reap the benefits of AU’s recent official recognition to gain acceptance into NU’s teacher certification program. Other factors were necessary, but I still believe that AU’s new status played some part in my acceptance, for several reasons.

Earlier on in 2005 I was supply teaching and did class observations at my old high school, which really increased my desire to pursue a career in teaching, although, my options were very limited in Ontario. Moreover, I was at a slight disadvantage having a three-year undergraduate degree, as most institutions require you to have a four-year degree to pursue graduate studies. Many of the universities here in Canada do not offer marketing and information processing as teachables, and general business studies is not a common teachable. Also, if I were to apply to any College of Education in Canada, I would have to do so nearly a year in advance. With my other family obligations, I could not wait that long and wanted to begin as soon as possible. By researching several of university websites, I realized that Niagara University, along with other universities under the MSCHE, have three start dates for their programs: Spring (January), Summer (May) and Fall (September). Many of these universities have rolling admissions, which means that you can apply even a few weeks before the semester commences and gain acceptance (pending your meeting admission requirements). Niagara University even offers distance education courses, though I will be attending on campus and living in residence while I study.

As you can imagine, I was very excited when I received my acceptance letter and that is why I decided to channel my excitement by sharing my experience with other AU students in similar circumstances who may wonder whether they will be able to pursue the “possible career options” found in the “program learning outcomes” on the AU website.

If you look at the Athabasca University Website under “Possible Further Education Options” for every program, you will see that there are several graduate programs that students can pursue at AU, but those who feel limited should explore opportunities available at other institutions and even consider the American institutions that fall under the MSCHE governing body as an option. In some cases, the provincial government (depending on the program) will provide financial assistance. For my particular program, OSAP is available as it leads to Canadian Teacher Certification.

I hope my experience will give others in my situation some encouragement and optimism that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you AU for pursuing the MSCHE accreditation because, it sure paid off for me! I hope others will follow suit to pursue their aspirations.

If anyone is interested in learning more about the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and about the other member institutions alongside AU that are part of this membership association, please check out http://www.msche.org. For information on Niagara University’s online courses, visit http://www.ed2go.com/niagara.

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