One of the fundamental questions that every homeschool family will face at some point in their homeschooling is, “Are you using an accredited school?” or some version of that question. The topic and choice of accreditation is one of the “elephants in the room” issues that many homeschool families try to avoid, however, it is really a fairly simple question. When the emotion around this issue is removed, accreditation boils down to a few simple facts that should be considered in order to decide if this issue will affect your choice of curricula and programs in your homeschooling choices. If it does matter to you after learning the facts, then you will be able to make some informed decisions about your homeschooling program. If you decide that accreditation doesn’t matter, then you will be able to address this topic easily and effortlessly with your friends and family who ask about it.Accreditation means that you have met a standard for coursework. That is all that it means. Being accredited by an agency says that you have met their standard of academic rigor and that you have their endorsement. But the purpose in having a standard in the first place is so that any given college can look to a consistent set of endorsements in order to admit students. So in essence, the purpose for seeking accreditation is to meet a standard that will ultimately be accepted by a college. Therefore, colleges drive the accreditation terms, but it is also colleges that decide if an accrediting agency is an acceptable one. There are other leveling endorsements, though, such as standardized tests – SAT and ACT – so accreditation is only one of those endorsements.You should know that state issued accreditations are the only constantly accepted standard for accreditation by most colleges. However, those accreditations will not be issued to homeschool families, as they are set aside for public schools and public school programs only. So as a homeschooler, you will not be able to earn a state endorsement unless your child is enrolled in a public school, thus contradicting your reasons for homeschooling.Outside of the state issued accreditations, there are other agency endorsements that can be sought. Many private school accreditation agencies exist and each has varying standards for achieving their approval. If you are using a private school program or a homeschool program whose has achieved an accredited status, then that means that that curricula program has met a standard as outlined by that particular agency, not by the colleges. Therefore, if you are in a private school program or using a homeschool program that is accredited by a particular agency, it is important to realize that some colleges will accept that endorsement and some will not. Accreditation therefore, does not guarantee acceptance by a college.Some of these outside accreditation agencies are very rigorous in scope when you consider what it takes to become accredited. Some are not. Some agencies require affiliations with particular denominations or influencing groups, and some only require that you purchase a membership in their program. Some accreditation agencies have regular reviews and assessments of their students, schools, standardized test scores, etc., and some only require that you pay an annual fee.As a result of these widely varying standards, you can see the problem that is created for colleges. Colleges do not see all accreditations as equal because of this. If your long-term goals for a particular college will be better served by being in an accredited program, then knowing which accredited programs are appropriate will also be a question that you will need to consider. If your long-term plans include preparing for standardized tests to be the independent source of learning validation, then accreditation becomes less of an issue.Ultimately however, there will need to be some sort of outside verification of abilities, mastery, and cognitive development for each of your homeschooled students, so knowing the purposes and reasons for the varied types of standards will help you to determine your best homeschool options well in advance.