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Home Why Westwood? Frequently Asked Questions

Westwood College: Frequently Asked Questions

Accreditation

What is Accreditation?

It is a voluntary process that academic institutions participate in to demonstrate that they meet certain academic standards. These standards focus on the quality of teaching, learning, and services offered by the institution. Through the accrediting process, colleges or universities are regularly evaluated, and those that meet the standards are approved by an accrediting agency. Career-focused colleges, such as Westwood, and more traditional private or public universities and community colleges all go through an accreditation review to ensure that they meet the accrediting standards for education and serve their students well.

There are different types of accreditation including regional, national and program-specific accreditation. Colleges and universities voluntarily apply to receive their accreditation from different bodies or different accrediting agencies. Westwood College is nationally accredited.

What are the benefits to students of attending an accredited school?

We strongly encourage all students to attend only accredited colleges and universities. This stamp of approval from an accrediting agency ensures that the college or university is meeting standard requirements for educating its students. By attending a nationally accredited institution such as Westwood, students have access to federal loans and grants, which many of our students utilize.

Another important benefit for students is that it affirms the value of students' degrees when they enter the job market to start their careers. If you do run into concerns about Westwood or its accreditation, you can direct your employer to the U.S. Department of Education's web page on accreditation issues. Accreditation also has profound but less obvious benefits to students in the way it shapes their learning experience.

What accreditation does Westwood currently have?

Westwood is nationally accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). ACICS was founded in 1912 and is the largest national accrediting organization of degree-granting institutions. ACICS accredits professional, technical and occupational programs, and is one of two national accreditors recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Why is Westwood nationally accredited?

National accreditation aligns perfectly with Westwood's mission to provide career-focused education. Colleges and schools accredited by ACICS are required to meet and maintain high standards of faculty qualifications, student retention and student placement. These criteria focus on how Westwood prepares students for a career.

What about transferring credits?
Except in limited circumstances, Westwood credits will not transfer to other schools and a degree from Westwood will not be honored for admission to an advanced-degree program. Please see our section on transferring college credits for additional information.

Advice for Westwood students to help them get the most out of their education:

It's all about hard work and personal responsibility. Like so many things in life, you get out of it what you put into it. Students who take their responsibilities seriously and work hard to achieve the goals they have set for themselves are the ones who are going to be most successful. That's true here at Westwood College, and it's true out in the world at large.

Many of the most successful people in the world talk about this, and the same thing comes up over and over again in their advice to young people. These are people who have succeeded in the world of business, sports, entertainment, charitable work, and public service. Their advice inevitably comes down to emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility and strong work ethic.

How important is education and getting a degree?

It's essential in today's economy. Long gone are the days when people without a college degree could expect to enter the workforce and become a part of the middle class. If you look at economic trends in the United States over the past 30-40 years, that is one of the most significant changes that has happened. People with no more than a high school degree are at a disadvantage as the economy evolves, and they are increasingly being left behind, especially given factors such as the recession, globalization and more.

Is a college degree is a "must-have" in today's job world?

Yes. The single biggest thing you can do to take control of where your life is headed is to get a college degree. Obtaining a degree from Westwood prepares you for what you will be asked to do in many career fields. It prepares you for the "real world" of bosses, deadlines, challenging projects, collaboration with coworkers, managing tasks, paying attention to details and everything else you will need to do in your job.

Is that why Westwood's curriculum is designed the way it is?

Absolutely. We work every day to create a learning atmosphere that replicates what students will need to do in the careers they are pursuing. We do that by hiring faculty who have real-world experience and can pass along those practical skills, preparing students to do what they will be asked to do by their boss. We also do that by using a hands-on, experiential teaching approach as opposed to the lecture-based approach. Companies don't train their employees with lectures. They use the same kind of model Westwood uses.

Is this real world approach one of the advantages of career-focused colleges?

Yes, it is an advantage. Everything we do is focused on preparing students for the career path they have chosen, and we structure the programs to give them what they need to be successful on the job. To help make the experience as close to the real world as possible, we work closely with a number of employers for their input about our curriculum and degree programs. We ask them about the skills they are looking for in employees, and we use that to get students prepared for what their boss will ask of them. That approach is what makes career-focused colleges like Westwood so relevant for today's economy.


Westwood College Employment Pledge

What is the Employment Pledge?

Westwood is so confident that you will get the right skills to launch your career, if you haven't found a job within six months of graduation, we will help pay your bills. We are so sure that an education at Westwood will prepare you for a brighter future, we're putting our money where our commitment is - on your success.

How do I qualify for the Employment Pledge?

Your commitment is straightforward. We want you to be focused on academic success and actively work with our career services team to start your career. Your commitment to complete the program includes:

  • Achieve cumulative 3.0 GPA or better at graduation.
  • Actively pursue employment with career services and be employment-eligible per Westwood's accrediting standards
  • Successfully complete the following work with career services to perfect your resume prior to graduation
    • complete your portfolio prior to graduation (design and gaming students only)
    • participate in our mock interview process prior to graduation
    • professionally participate in scheduled interviews consistently and actively engage with career services until employment

What are some of the important details I need to know about qualifying for the Employment Pledge?

The Employment Pledge program is available to new students starting at Westwood College. To participate, the student must sign the Employment Pledge commitment document during the first meeting with their career services representative prior to the end of the term. Employment is defined as employed in-field or related field. Employment in-field shows that the graduate's primary job duties closely match the core skills taught in his/her program of study.

I enrolled before the eligible time period. Can I still qualify for the Employment Pledge?

Initially, this is a pilot program only for new students. While current students are not eligible, we encourage you to fulfill these same commitments to achieve a 3.0 GPA and to work actively with career services. We are confident that if you use our Career Success Plan fully, you will find a job.


Staying in School

What is the biggest issue Westwood College is focused on right now?

Our #1 priority is helping students achieve their dream of completing their degree. Students who stay in school, even if only part-time, are able to maintain forward momentum towards their degree and are more likely to graduate and begin their exciting new career. That's our goal, to help them get to that new career.

Should I take a break from my studies?

It is much easier to achieve your goal if you keep moving towards it. It's really hard to get started again if you stop. There are some things you may not realize, such as the fact that your student loans could come due if you're out of school for a while. It is also important to point out that your classmates – with whom you have great relationships – will continue on without you, and you'll have to get to know a whole new group of peers when you return.

We would also suggest you revisit your dreams. You enrolled in college originally for very good reasons. Spend some time talking about what those reasons are so you could recommit to achieving your goal of graduating from college.

Is that compelling for students?
Absolutely. Every Westwood student has invested time, energy and money in their education to help them have a better life, and the impact of a degree is significant. Not only is their earning potential higher, but studies have also shown that college graduates experience fewer layoffs when times are tough. Those reasons are very compelling for any of us!

That makes it easier to pay off student loans, too. Correct?

That's something that a lot of students don't realize. Education is an investment that you need to complete in order to reap the benefits. Students who stop before they finish are in the unfortunate position of having to repay the loans they took out without the benefit of getting the education they were aiming for.

What resources are available to help students who are considering taking a break from their studies?

The biggest resource we provide students is the Success Team. It's a group of advisors Westwood offers every student who assist students at every stage in their academic career. These advisors help students with the enrollment process, financial aid, course selection and much more, but one of their key roles is assisting students when they start to lose momentum or encounter a specific challenge.

We encourage all students to take advantage of the help their advisors offer, not just at the very beginning and very end of their degree program but in the middle when momentum is so important and when the temptation to take a break is strongest. They can help in a number of ways, ranging from scheduling free tutoring services to finding specific resources to assist with everything from daycare to transportation and housing.

How can students get in touch with the Success Team?

It's easy. The Student Support department on each campus is the place to start. The student advisor will listen to a student's needs and make sure they are connected to the right resource to help them resolve their challenges. The most important thing to know is that no challenge is too big or too small, talk to Student Services. They can help. Chances are, whatever your challenge is, other students have encountered the same thing. They can help find the resources needed to keep a student moving toward the dream of graduating.


Westwood College Success Teams

What is the biggest issue your team is focused on right now?

Our #1 priority is helping students achieve their dream of completing their degree. Students who stay in school, even if only part-time, are able to maintain forward momentum towards their degree and are more likely to graduate and begin their exciting new career. That's our goal, to help them get to that new career.

If I were a student who was thinking about taking a break from my studies, what would you tell me?

I would probably start by helping you understand how much easier it is to achieve your goal if you keep moving towards it. It's really hard to get started again if you stop. I would also remind you of some things that you may not realize, like the fact that your student loans could come due if you're out of school for a while. I would also point out that your classmates, with whom you have great relationships, will continue on without you, and you'll have to get to know a whole new group of peers when you return.

Is that compelling for students?

Absolutely. Every Westwood student has invested time, energy and money in their education to help them have a better life, and the impact of a degree is significant. Not only is their earning potential higher, but studies have also shown that college graduates experience fewer layoffs when times are tough. Those reasons are very compelling for any of us!

What resources are available to help students who are considering taking a break from their studies?

The biggest resource we provide students is the Success Team. It's a group of advisors Westwood offers every student who assist students at every stage in their academic career. These advisors help students with the enrollment process, with financial aid, with course selection and a lot more, but one of their key roles is assisting students when they start to lose momentum or encounter a specific challenge.

I want to encourage all students to take advantage of the help their advisors offer, not just at the very beginning and very end of their degree program but in the middle when momentum is so important and when the temptation to take a break is strongest. They can help in a number of ways, ranging from scheduling free tutoring services to finding specific resources to assist with everything from daycare to transportation and housing.

How can students get in touch with the Success Team?

It's easy. The Student Support department on each campus is the place to start. The student advisor will listen to a student's needs and make sure they are connected to the right resource to help them resolve their challenges. The most important thing to know is that no challenge is too big or too small – talk to Student Services. They can help. Chances are, whatever your challenge is, other students have encountered the same thing. They can help find the resources needed to keep a student moving toward the dream of graduating.


Student Satisfaction Survey

Can you talk about the most recent student satisfaction study?

Sure. The results are pretty exciting, and I'm happy to walk through them. It's an independent survey of student satisfaction that is executed by Noel-Levitz, which is a respected consulting and research firm that helps educational institutions identify ways to improve the programs and services they provide. Noel-Levitz has worked with thousands of colleges and universities, and Westwood has conducted five surveys with Noel-Levitz within the past eight years as part of our commitment to providing the best educational experience we can.

What do the surveys ask students?

The surveys ask students for their feedback and opinions about a wide range of topics, including the quality of the faculty, the content of the curriculum, the strength of the services provided by the college, the helpfulness of staff and faculty, and much more. The surveys are based on a methodology that Noel-Levitz developed and has used in conducting surveys with more than 3 million students on thousands of campuses over the years.

Westwood seeks feedback from students in a variety of ways, but the Noel-Levitz surveys provide us with a comprehensive review of the overall student experience.

What are some of the results?

The findings that resonate with me the most are how we stack up against other schools in terms of overall student satisfaction. Since Noel-Levitz uses the same methodology each time it works with a school, it can help institutions like Westwood compare themselves to other colleges and universities. In comparing Westwood to the student ratings of private and public four-year colleges and universities across the country, Noel-Levitz reported that Westwood students are more satisfied in each of the areas they studied.

Additionally, Westwood's own year-over-year results have shown increases in areas specific to the courses we provide, our faculty's workplace experiences, our commitment to academics, and our ability to assist our students throughout their college careers.

You mentioned students rating Westwood's ability to assist them as a significant positive. Can you clarify what you mean?

This category is specific to some of the support services we provide our students that are above and beyond the educational experience. Student support is a big area of emphasis for us. According to the survey, our students rated us higher than other colleges in showing we care, counseling them through their academic requirements or financial aid, and making them feel safe and welcome in a well-maintained environment.

What kind of changes has Westwood made based on the student surveys?

In 2008 after the survey was completed and to be responsive to student feedback, the College made some significant changes in a variety of areas.

One specific example is our financial aid process. The survey showed that students thought the financial aid process was too complex and overwhelming. As a result, we overhauled our processes and student finance materials to make them more straightforward and easier for students to understand. We created an instructional video titled Paying for College that helps students better understand financing. It's available on our website and we make it available to all incoming students. Students have positively received those changes.

What are some of the things students highlighted for improvement in the latest surveys?

In looking at the most recent survey results, one of the first things we analyzed was whether or not students felt we had adequately addressed the issues brought to light in the previous survey. The results confirmed we were responsive to our students' needs and reported that student satisfaction improved in all 9 areas of the major categories analyzed in 2012.

However, the new data highlights a few areas for improvement. An area of opportunity is continuing to increase awareness of our institution. This is a big area of focus for us as we work with employers and other community leaders to highlight the benefits the college, its students and graduates bring to the communities we serve. We will continue to review the results in detail, and plan to create an action plan, similar to the one we created in 2012. Our goal is continuous improvement, and these surveys are a critical part of the process for achieving that.

How can students learn more about the results of these surveys if they are interested?

There is a section on our website specific to the survey that provides more information for our students and faculty. Our campus presidents will also create action plans for their specific campuses outlining key findings and how they plan to address the opportunities identified by Westwood students.

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