I think it’s important to distinguish between non-accredited schools and “diploma mills”, so I’m glad you did that in your OP. To add to that, accreditation is a huge undertaking for a new or small school, and it’s incredibly expensive, and comes with all sorts of red tape and restrictions that don’t always benefit the students. For example, for about 5 years I helped to run a small (fewer than 100 students) school teaching medicinal herbalism and massage therapy. All the students were adults, classes ran for three hours at night with no more than 25 students in at once, the teachers were all licensed acupuncturists certified in first aid or MDs. And yet to seek accreditation, we had to have a full time School Nurse on the payroll. It was a ridiculous requirement, not remotely necessary for student safety in our particular case, but there was simply no getting around it. The salary of a full time nurse would have meant increasing tuition by over 20% for each student. So we decided not to seek accreditation, and instead use the funds to keep our tuition as low as possible and pay for more supplies and better teachers. Seeking accreditation would have *lowered *the quality of our educational program.
My junior college taught for over 30 years before they were financially well off enough to afford the accreditation process. Perfectly good classes, classrooms and curricula, but they didn’t have a spare $100,000 laying around. They were part of a reciprocal agreement with other schools in the state to treat their classes as if they were accredited (so your hours there were good anywhere in Illinois) but they couldn’t call them “credits.” After accreditation, you got 3 credits instead of 45 hours for an English 101 class, but that was the only change most of the students saw.
But yeah, diploma mills are assholes. Not just because they’re cheating their “students” out of education and skills, but because they give perfectly good non-accredited schools a bad name.
No, this is not always true. You have to have earned a certificate or degree (depending on the field) from a *state approved *school, but often accreditation isn’t a requirement.
The school I ran was state approved, with state approved programs, but it was not accredited. And if I had a quarter for every time I had to explain the difference to a confused applicant…