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What does it mean to have a college degree from an accredited American university?


Timothy Mitchell Aguanga, CA

More and more, people who earn a college degree aren’t working in the field they studied in. What do you do when you can’t use your degree?

18 March 2019 4 replies Career Exploration



Timothy Mitchell Aguanga, CA

Hello and thank you for the constructive feedback! I really appreciate the resources and overall positivity provided.

As far as HLC, it appears to be limited in where they provide their services and doesn’t cover California, unfortunately. Maybe I read that wrong though and what was meant was to look for the accrediting body that governs that area (e.g. WASC)? If so, I don’t think I quite understand how to use that information or the advice given from it, in that regards. I’m sorry. If someone wouldn’t mind maybe clarifying a bit more for me, please?

I also don’t understand how the value of a degree is calculated. It feels like, in the job market, experience trumps education for a majority of the open positions.

Thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer my questions.


James OBrien Williamsburg, VA

Timothy I am not sure the other answers were specific enough for the question. First, working in your field of degree study can be pretty broad. For instance you may have a technical degree but work in administration or program management in another technical field outside the scope of your degree based on your fine military experience. So a little more information may yield some answers to move into a field not intuitively obvious. So this is a good place that an experienced person in industry can work with you to best apply your specific skills, experience and training to another area of work.
Your second question also needs some clarification, why "can't" you use your degree? Is it because its lack of specificity or your career aspirations are outside of the degree or was the degree not very valuable? If you went to a well regarded institution then most companies would love to have your service plus the wherewithal to get a degree as well. This proves many things outside the scope of the degree. If the degree is from a diploma mill or an unaccredited institution then this is another problem. I suggest some one-on-one time with an adviser to frame the problem then work on a solution.
Best of luck and thank you for your service.


J J Nemitz Traverse City, MI

Hi Timothy,
Jerry is correct. You want the warranty for all the time and money you invest. The Higher Education/Learning Commission accrediting body does evaluations every so many years of schools and programs. In addition to the overall accreditation many individual programs have addtitional accreditation’s, I.e education has NCATE and public administration has NASPA etc.
The overall Higher Learning Commission is key. The additional program ones can be a real plus as well. I would look for both depending on your course of study.
Best to you!


Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

Bottom line is, national accreditation is easier to obtain than state or regional accreditation. 1) speaking with a college or university about accreditation is like speaking to a used care salesperson about the warranty! Unless you are working with a very name recognized campus based university, it is best to do the research outside academia. There are a number of organizations that rank colleges and universities by value and career success.
Many good paying positions now days, come from a two year degree or certification i.e. skilled trades, many are hands on training, robotics, CNC programing, many medical careers... Many people with degrees are working very under their level with a degree, simply due to the fact they chose and easy Bachelor of Arts in a generic field. Do your research and make sure it is a valid career that will be around, typically STEM are very desired fields and degrees from reputable universities will be a plus. Hope this helps, long winded response to yes, a lot of degreed folks underemployed or working in a different field.

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