1995 President's Corner: Break Down
I know that many people wonder why it would be useful to break down an old document from 1995. The primary reason for doing so is the insistence by Bob Jones III that SACS is the one who has changed, and that Bob Jones University hasn't changed at all. Of course anyone who attended BJU before TRACS accreditation realizes that this is absurdly false, BJU has made major changes. But for those who didn't it is always a nice reminder of what Bob Jones University used to believe. With a document like this it is hard to figure out where to start. so lets just start at the top (and let me apologize now for the length.
If you or someone you know is persuaded that attending an "accredited" Christian college is the only safe way to be assured that your college education is not in vain, here is food for thought.
This is just a funny way to begin an article since we now have the 20/20 hindsight goggles. In fact, it is laughable when you consider that only last month the Executive Vice President of Bob Jones University was quoted as saying:
The current institutional accreditation [BJU] maintains has opened up certain doors for graduates, but not as many as regional accreditation would open.
First it is funny that BJU currently has accreditation, but secondly that the current accreditation fails where regional accreditation succeeds. Someone needs to go and tell that Bob Jones III fellow that Bob Jones University is one of those people who are "persuaded." I think Bob Jones III would have something to say to that school.
Bob Jones III goes on to list several reasons why they might be persuaded. Lets break them all down.
It is the easy way to get financing for college because students attending a regionally accredited college have access to federal loans.
Loans must be repaid. While federal underwriting of the student's education at modest interest rates may seem to be the answer to his prayer today, remember that these loans must be paid back. Graduating with $25,000-$30,000 of debt is not a happy prospect. Significant debt jeopardizes the new graduate's marriage plans, opportunity to get to the mission field with dispatch, opportunity to enter seminary or graduate school. The graduate is prisoner to his debt. What initially looked like a godsend turns out to be a millstone about his neck.
Truly college debt is becoming a major issue in America. In fact, it is far worse now, over a decade later, than it was then. In fact, major news outlets have repeatedly reported on the educational bubble and how current debt ratios are completely unsustainable. Thank God that BJU remained pure and steadfast and didn't become part of the ever growing problem. Except that they didn't. BJU has been taking federal loans for students for quite some time now. And the average student debt leaving BJU is now well over $20,000 ($28,000 to be exact). What happened between 1995 and 2012? BJU changed, that is what happened.
*It is the way for the graduate to be assured of entrance into graduate school.
Students from regionally accredited colleges routinely may be denied entrance to graduate schools. "Accreditation" is not a guarantee of entrance to graduate school. Graduates from unaccredited and accredited undergraduate programs enter graduate school on the basis of their undergraduate academic performance. Bob Jones University is by choice non-regionally accredited, and our capable graduates, like those of regionally accredited colleges, attend the finest graduate schools in America.
This is the key statement "'Accreditation' is not a guarantee of entrance to graduate school." Bob Jones III is mincing his words here a bit. First he sets up a straw man that no one is talking about and then succeeds in beating him down. Of course there are many factors to getting into grad school. And no one has a grantee that they'll be accepted. Prior grades, as well as the GRE and the application material all play a role in admission. But as many people have found out sometimes the one thing that stops you from getting into grad school is accreditation. Again just last month the Executive Vice President of Bob Jones University was admitting to as much as well. While there is no guaranteed acceptance to grad school there is one possible guaranteed denial and it comes down to accreditation. It doesn't happen everywhere, but when it happens it is a guarantee. So what people mean isn't that you are guaranteed to get into grad school, what they are saying is that you are guaranteed not to ever be denied grad school based solely on the accreditation, or non-accreditation, of your school. It is a completely liberating idea. The thought that no one is going to throw away your application after seeing the school you attended. Instead you really will be judged based upon your performance and application. Of course BJU must have stayed their course right? Surely they didn't seek accreditation...and if were to seek accreditation surely it would never be regional accreditation.
*Doors to the job market swing on the hinges of accreditation.
The truth is, undergraduate accreditation has little to do with getting a good job. Most employers are interested in performance and character. "Accreditation" and "pedigree" mean nothing to them.
There is a funny thing about that, none of this is the truth. Accreditation and pedigree both play major roles in the job market, both then and now. First lets look at accreditation. I've highlighted that South Carolina's very own employer's guide suggest using the following basic language for job postings, "Requires an [associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral] degree from a regionally accredited institution or foreign equivalent." And a quick look at any professional job listing will reveal many jobs with this same wording. As for pedigree it is obvious. Two people looking for the same job, one is a Harvard Business grad and the other has a bachelors from some state university. Which one has a perceived advantage? The Harvard grad for sure. That isn't to say that pedigree cannot be overcome by experience and determination, but while recent studies showed that Ivy League grads don't have a monopoly on hire paying jobs what the studies do show is that those who have the pedigree fair pretty well for themselves in the upper tax brackets and certainly still have a leg up over the average non-ivy league grad. Either way accreditation is absolutely essential for many jobs, and vital for many others. That is true now and was certainly true then.
Don't allow yourself to be fooled or scared out of a BJU education by claims that a "nonaccredited" degree is deficient.
Someone should tell that to the BJU EVP before he does an interview with the Campus Collegian. The sad thing is that the degree is deficient. Even now with TRACS accreditation BJU can no longer keep up the facade that everything is ok, because it isn't. You need to have a regionally accredited degree in order to succeed and not to waist your time at college. It is so obvious now, but back then this is what we were all being told. We believed it because we thought that it was the spiritually right thing to do and now we realize that there was nothing spiritually wrong with it this entire time...oh wait I'm getting ahead of myself.
"Accreditation," on the other hand, is something to be scared about. Remember, a regionally accredited Christian college is accredited by the same people that accredit state universities where lives are spiritually and morally wrecked as a result of the demands made upon these schools through the accrediting process. Christian colleges can justify their existence only by offering an education that is free from the corrupting influences of humanistic educators who do not believe that God and the Bible have a legitimate place in the education process.
The bottom line is that turning the Christian college over to unbelievers-the regional accreditors-for their approval or disapproval of the Christian school's administrative decisions and policies is spiritual suicide. It is also clearly unscriptural to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (I Corinthians 6:14).
You see what he did there? He just made this a spiritual issue. He made it a biblical one. You know things based upon the inerrant word of God. The word of God that never changes. The word of God that they preach every day on campus as literal absolute truth...that word of God. When Bob Jones III made it a spiritual issue he took it to the level of absolutes. In an absolute world based upon absolute truths of the Bible that means convictions cannot change. And indeed at BJU they rarely do. But the truth is this was never a spiritual issue. Normal people are allowed to change their mind, admit the mistake and move on, but apparently not Bob Jones III. No for him he didn't change. Well tell me, what about the above paragraph has changed at SACS? Nothing. SACS is still a secular humanistic institution that accredits those same secular state schools and with whom you must "yoke" yourself. I read this paragraph above again, I don't agree with it at all anymore, but then again neither does present day Bob Jones III and Bob Jones University...why don't any of us agree with it anymore? Because we have changed. I'll admit that, why doesn't Bob Jones University?
The policies of the six regional accrediting agonies vary slightly. For instance, the Western Association, which tends to be the most radical but whose policies, like anything else bad that starts in California and tends to spread east, requires that its member colleges (Christian ones too) promote homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. The accreditors are concerned not only about the academics of the college but also about the social aspects.
Funny, but I don't recall homosexuality being promoted at Maranatha Bible College. My sister attended there in the 90's while they were regionally accredited and at no time was forced to violate her Christian beliefs on that topic. So I'm not quite sure where he is pulling this from. Is it possible that the western accreditation association took a rather liberal stand regarding homosexuality? Sure, and could they have possibly encouraged their schools to also take a liberal stand? Sure, but did they force the entire country, Christians as well, to take this same liberal stand? Maranatha and a host of other Christian schools tells a different story.
Each accrediting association regulates board policy, faculty hiring/firing policy, curriculum, and student conduct with invasive demands affecting the character of the education delivered to the student.
And all of this is still the case today. We've already highlighted that there would be significant changes to the hiring and firing of faculty. As well as with the academic freedom they must afford their faculty. There are sections devoted to it in the Principles of Accreditation. Also with regards to the character of the education delivered, isn't that exactly the point of accreditation. Wait...Weier said it himself, Accreditation "would benefit the University from a quality assurance standpoint." In other words it would greatly affect the "character of the education being delivered to the student." How? By ensuring that BJU meets federal and regional standards of education (quality assurance). Bob Jones III's last statement isn't an argument against accreditation it is an argument for it. Because it helps ensure that the student is being taught properly and that BJU is being recognized for their excellent teaching. And that's all accreditation has ever been about. Certainly it was never about the following.
The heathen world exerts influence on our children through the entertainment industry, which defines popular culture, and through education. Wouldn't it be a pity for Christian young people to choose a Christian college thinking they have removed themselves from the destructive influence of secular education only to discover that the ideals of secular education were actually influencing them because their Christian college was regionally accredited and subject to the same external pressures that have done so much harm to secular college students?
Aren't you glad that at Bob Jones University the ideals of secular higher education won't be working against your children?
This is pure FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt). It isn't true now and certainly wasn't true then. They said this because it resonated. They said it because it kept people coming to their school. They said it because people believed it, but it wasn't true. And if it were true than it would still be true today. BJU has lost the higher ground. They took the expedient route and sold out for regional accreditation. I applaud them for doing so, but they must admit the error of the past. They must admit that they mislead people into taking a huge gamble with their futures. They need to be honest and apologize for the error of their past rhetoric. They need to admit that they are the ones that have changed.