Accreditation reports are just like vacations. No, really!

Having just returned from vacation and having just completed a conversation with a friend about to leave on one, I was reflecting that the events of a vacation closely mirror those of writing an accreditation report. I do realize that many of you are not nerds about accreditation like I am, but bear with me.

When preparing for a vacation, you explore the destination via the interwebs. What have others done at this place? What was their experience? What went well and what didn’t? What did they learn that could help me? Then you identify resources you will need. Passport, rain gear, hiking boots, swimming suit, ski suit, fancy clothes for a fancy night out, etc. Pack it up, plot a course, and hit the road. How have others approached the most problematic standards? What accreditation surprises have others recently had? What data, procedures, reports, or meeting minutes will you need? See, just like vacation.

One you are in it, your vacation has times of blissful uneventfullness. Quiet times alone or with family. Lounging on the beach or by the the pool. Times to relax when it is all going well. Narratives that are so straightforward they write themselves. Better yet, the narratives for standards that don’t apply to your institution. Narratives for which the documentation is plentiful, complete, and easily obtainable.

If you vacation like my family does, there will be a few adventures in the mix. Long hikes on strenuous trails, ziplines, white water rafting, or kayaking through a cave. Activities that get your blood moving and your body working. Throw in a little car trouble in the middle of nowhere and you have quite the experience. How about narratives that are really complicated? Data that are difficult to get, misplaced, or just plain not there. Meeting minutes that don’t have critical details that are needed. Substandard assessment reports that repeat with frightening regularity. And finally, when you drop into the class IV rapid or submit your report, that moment of, “here we go, I hope we come out of the other side!”

Finally, once you are back home with the laundry all done and the equipment put away, you feel like you need another vacation to recover from the one you just had. Just like holding that letter and reading through it teary-eyed and/or bleary-eyed to see that all is good…until the next report. And you feel like you need a vacation.

If that thrilling, adventurous, and somewhat dangerous vacation is not your thing then you might want some company from somebody who enjoys that sort of thing. If that is the case, reach out and we can talk about sharing this accreditation journey.

At Southeastern Accreditation Consultants, we’re ready to collaborate and support your upcoming vacation. We bring best practices, proven strategies, and experienced narrative review to the table. We offer individualized services to best meet your needs during the adventure to come. Contact us to get started.

Published by Douglas A. Wymer

Throughout an academic career spanning nearly 20 years, Dr. Wymer participated in many site visits (both substantive change and reaffirmation visits) for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and he has been a visiting team member for the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges with the Western Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition to serving as a team member, Dr. Wymer has served as a visiting committee chair for SACSCOC. After earning a B.S. in Biology (with a minor in Chemistry) from what was then Shorter College, an M.S. in Entomology from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Tennessee Technological University, Dr. Wymer started a rewarding career in academia. He earned tenure and achieved the rank of Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences at The University of West Alabama and served in a number of administrative roles at UWA including Department Chair and Assistant Dean. He served as a Department Head at Pensacola State College and, after a year in that position, was promoted to Dean of Baccalaureate Studies and Academic Support. In 2016 he became the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Lake-Sumter State College, where he served for four years before launching Southeastern Accreditation Consultants.

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