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The Middle States Student Update Meeting: A Slice of the Middle States Pie by Jadelyn Villa

On March 14th in Academic Hall, members of SGA and the Middle States work team held a student update meeting from 1-2 PM. Students and staff in attendance were able to engage in discussion on PCCC’s accreditation process while enjoying pizza and refreshments in honor of Pi Day. 

Ian Wolf, the Assistant Dean for Student Engagement, and Elizabeth Ramos of SGA opened for the production with information on the Constitutional Review Committee, which is in charge of reviewing their current constitution and making amendments. They have not revised their constitution since 2020, and these changes will be presented at the next CAF meeting, SGA’s Town Hall, and on the PCCC portal. Ramos also presented information on SGA’s 2024 elections, where credit-bearing students who paid the colleges’ student activity fees can vote for electoral candidates and constitutional changes.

Three out of five of the Middle States Preliminary Work Team members gave the presentation for the student update meeting, Dr. Dawn Norman, Meredith Behrens, and Dr. Mike Carhart, with additional member and Visions Advisor Dr. Christine Redman-Waldeyer making a brief appearance and explaining Middle States further. The presentation was  divided into five lessons to simplify and outline the process and was driven by the question, “What is college accreditation and how does it work?”

Middle States is an institutional accrediting agency that periodically examines schools’ academic offerings to confirm that colleges are providing students with quality education that meets the standards set forth by the agency. There are seven accreditation standards, and PCCC must prove that they live up to these standards as an institution of higher education. These standards consist of the following: 

  1. Mission and Goals

  2. Ethics and Integrity

  3. Design and Delivery of the Student Learning Experience

  4. Support of the Student Experience

  5. Educational Effectiveness Assessment 

  6. Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement

  7. Governance, Leadership, and Administration

The accreditation process occurs every eight years, where about eight visitors from surrounding states inspect our college to confirm our educational standing. It begins with the self-study, a 200-page document containing all the citations and evidence of our services and demonstrating how PCCC helps students complete their degrees. Essentially, it is a self-reflection on what the college does well and what it can improve upon.

The term accreditation refers to an educational institution’s legitimacy and effectiveness. Students may not realize it, but this operation affects them as well. Accreditation is key to financial aid funding, transferring credits, and the validity of a degree. If PCCC were to fail the examination and possess a dishonest or weak self-study, the college would lose its status as an establishment of higher learning and become obsolete. Through this process, students receive assurance and affirmation that their education and associate degrees apply, in practicality and legality, to their lives moving forward.

From the large turnout and generative discussions at the event, it is clear that the Middle States Student Update Meeting was an incredibly effective and well-structured gathering that enlightened students and staff alike on the importance of the agency and accreditation process. Keep an eye out for our Middle States visitors from April 7th to April 9th!

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