Every accrediting body uses a site visit to verify the institution’s self-study report. Site visits can be a tense time for everyone on campus whether or not they have experienced accreditation visits before. Knowing exactly what to expect and making sure everyone on campus is familiar with the self-study report and supporting documentation can ease the anxiety for everyone.
College Matters conducts mock site visits and educates staff, faculty, administration, and other stakeholders about the process. A mock visit relieves the stress, leaving everyone feeling better prepared for the review team’s visit. A preliminary conversation between the mock visit chairperson and the college president determines how much support the campus will need to be prepared for the visit. Any advanced planning that is needed for a site visit will be reviewed including setting up the work room, scheduling meetings with key stakeholders, and arranging transportation, food, and lodging for the team. The mock visit begins with the visiting team reviewing the institution’s self-study report and planning for the visit. Working from an agenda that mimics an actual site visit schedule, the team arrives on campus and is shown to the work room. The team will assess the work room and review available documentation. A campus tour is usually scheduled early in the visit to acclimate the team. Following the tour, the team will begin its review of the self-study and (depending on the accrediting body) review documents that may include financial aid records, registration records, faculty credentials, etc.
Interviews conducted by the mock visiting team will include instruction about what the team may be asking and/or how to provide additional documentation and answer any questions. The combination of interview and coaching prepares the campus for the interviews that are likely to occur during the actual site visit. Day 2 completes the visit with additional examination of documents, interviews, and drafting a report of the visit. An exit interview will end the visit during which the team will report any substantive findings or concerns or areas of particular excellence noted during the visit.
The length of the visit and the number of team members needed to provide a comprehensive visit experience is determined by the size of the institution. The cost of a mock visit is based on a per diem rate per consultant plus expenses related to travel, lodging, and meals.