How to Choose a Technical School
In the journey into the professional world, one of the most crucial decisions you can make is where you choose to learn. Schools, just like people, come in all shapes and sizes, and finding the right place can help maximize your skills and your earning power. As you consider your future education, there are two main things you need to do: get the facts, and visit the campus.
Getting the Facts
The first thing you should do is find information on the institution(s) you are considering. Simple enough, right? But what factors about a school are the most important?
Pricing can be a make-or-break factor for any student. It’s probably one of the first things you looked at, but the upfront cost of a school is not the only thing to consider. If you take out a loan for school, how long will it take you to pay it back? Also, what monies are available? Find every possible financial resource: scholarships, grants, loans, contest awards, etc.…Who knows, you may pay little to nothing out-of-pocket. Furthermore, how do one school’s prices compare to another, similar institution? Is the quality of education worth the price?
Retention rate is key. How many students of the school are continuing through their program and graduating? Low retention can suggest a number of problems from poorly structured degree programs to poor customer service. Find out the retention rate by contacting the institution and asking. The National Center for Educational Statistics’ website also provides detailed school data which can be found here.
Post-Grad Employment. Getting a job is why you want to go to a technical school in the first place, so how many of the graduates are actually getting paid? This may be a bit harder to pinpoint, but contact the school and ask them if they can provide you with any data on graduate employment.
Technology is man’s best friend (regardless of what pet-lovers say). You’ll want to make sure that your institution isn’t still in the Stone Age. Are the computers, equipment, and facilities up-to-date?
Curriculum and Accreditation. Have you actually seen the list of courses being offered? Do they make sense? Is the program cohesive? Is anything missing? Compare one degree program from two or more schools and note the similarities and differences.
Also, is the program accredited? Your degree will mean far less if it’s earned at a non-accredited institution. Check the NCES website for detailed info.
Teachers from Hell are probably the worst thing that can happen to a student. A poor or unprofessional educator can ruin a learner’s experience, crush aspirations, and quench motivation for further learning. Find out the credentials and track record of your instructors. Additionally, http://www.ratemyprofessors.com is a popular place to find real feedback from real students.
Visit the Campus
When it comes to your education, don’t just “Google it.” Making a phone call is a bit better, but nothing beats face-to-face experience. People and places are not always what they seem from a distance. Go and meet with the faculty and staff of your potential school(s). This also allows you a chance to see the campus buildings and environment in person. Familiarize yourself with the campus so you won’t be lost on the first day of classes. You may even be able to sit in on a live class and see what it’ll be like as a student.
In the End
Even after you’ve done all your research and maybe narrowed your choices down to one or two schools, think and carefully consider which one fits you best.
Want to start your research today? Visit our Schools page for a range of great educational options.