Despite the ongoing challenges facing the education landscape, including funding, talent shortage, and enrollment declining, there are also hopeful discussions around the influence of technology, AI, and new ways of approaching learning. Advocacy and proper training for institutions, program leaders, and curriculum builders will be critical for the future advancement of education. Many seek to combat the educational barriers with forward-thinking solutions such as alternative learning programs that blend skills-based programs with traditional higher education-type courses.
In the dynamic world of education, where institutions strive for excellence and quality, California-based Accreditation Advisors Group (AAG) emerges as a leading resource to help educational institutions and associations. Founded by Marco and Sandra Johnson, who learned firsthand how multifaceted the accreditation process is and the lack of resources available for those who are seeking education accreditation. To better understand the future of education accreditation, we connected with Marco to learn more about the space and uncover AAGs inspiring story as an educational consulting firm and the company’s significant impact to help others.
Q1. Tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial background and Accreditation Advisors Group (AAG).
Marco Johnson (MJ): From a young age, both my wife Sandra and I knew that we had an entrepreneurial drive. When founding and operating the University of Antelope Valley (UAV), we oversaw multiple businesses that fell within the wheelhouse of a traditional institution of higher education, such as marketing, human resources, curriculum development, food and beverage, housing, athletics, real estate acquisition, accounting, web development, community relations, initial/re-affirmation accreditation, etc.
Over the years, we’ve developed a reasonably solid base in each of these areas. Now, through the inception of Accreditation Advisors Group (AAG), we’re excited to share these skills with individuals, groups, and agencies across K-12 and Higher Education arenas.
Q2. What inspired you to start Accreditation Advisors Group or become involved in the education consulting space?
MJ: We genuinely believe that those of us in the education space have a duty to continuously teach and assist others with growing. With Accreditation Advisors Group, we have the ability to provide not only the information but also the training needed for others to take their institutions to the next level and help them achieve their goals.
Q3. How does Accreditation Advisors Group help new and established educational institutions?
MJ: Accreditation Advisors Group has assisted several established institutions in a range of impactful ways. For example, we’ve helped develop curricula for new programs or degree offerings, introduced collegiate athletics departments, and created faculty development plans, to name a few.
As it relates to new institutions, the majority of Accreditation Advisors Group’s efforts have been centered around assisting schools seeking institutional and programmatic approvals.
Q4. How does Accreditation Advisors Group differentiate itself from others in the industry? Any unique perspective you’d like to share?
MJ: My wife and I are fortunate to be a part of an extremely small group of experts who have founded, owned, and operated a regionally accredited traditional university. This allows us to have a solid grasp on nearly all things associated with postsecondary education.
Q5. What challenges have you faced over the years in your career or starting your own business, and how have you overcome them?
MJ: As an entrepreneur, challenges are sometimes commonplace, especially in the early stages of developing your company. One must get to the point where “challenges” are viewed as opportunities for growth. Once this mindset is mastered, your company’s trajectory, in most cases, will trend upward.
Q6. Any notable highlights you’d like to share (e.g., awards, recognition, accomplishments, etc.)?
MJ: Becoming a regionally accredited, traditional university is a unique and special fraternity. Maintaining that badge can also prove to be unique and special, as we’ve seen many new school owners and leaders struggle. As with most industries, you’ll get left behind if you become stagnant.
Q7. Where do you see Accreditation Advisors Group in a few years? Any aspirations for you personally or professionally for the business?
MJ: At Accreditation Advisors Group￼, our goal is to become an industry leader on the West Coast but maintain our boutique atmosphere so that we can continue to provide the specialized, attentive service that our clients have become used to receiving.
Marco Johnson’s entrepreneurial journey, coupled with the impactful work done by the Accreditation Advisors Group, serves as an inspiration for those navigating the intricate landscape of education consulting. AAG’s commitment to excellence and continuous growth positions them as a driving force in shaping the future of educational institutions.
Education accreditation provides credibility to institutions, ensures financial aid eligibility, and employer recognition, and facilitates credit transfer, and overall compliance to align with the latest standards and regulations. However, the accreditation process is evolving, and standards and processes vary widely based on the state and type of program offering. It helps to partner with education advocates who have seen the accreditation process from all sides to avoid missteps. The future of education relies on sustaining and enhancing the quality of credible education available.
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