A checklist for making an important – and well-informed – decision
Vocational training can be an effective strategy to gain a foothold in today’s competitive job market. But it’s also true that enrolling in a career training program requires a significant commitment.
Potential students have a lot to think about prior to deciding which career institute – or technical school – offers them the most significant return on their educational investment.
If you’re considering furthering your education, here are seven essential things to think about:
1. Accessibility. The first thing you’ll want to look at is if the school that you’re considering has a campus in your area? Is the career training program that you’re interested in currently offered at that campus? In terms of commuting, is the campus accessible by public transportation? Assuming you have a car, will there be parking available?
2. Flexibility. Depending on your schedule, it’s worth looking into whether the vocational school offers part-time enrollment. Ideally, you’ll be able to complete some or all of your classes during a certain time of day (or night).
3. Financial aid. A quick visit to the school’s website should clarify what types of assistance may be available, along with whether there are administrators on-hand who can help you fill out – and submit – those applications.
4. Curriculum. Before making a commitment, research the ins and outs of any program you’re considering. Medical billing and coding, for example, has a very different curriculum than the one completed by professional medical assistant students. The best way to ensure a program is geared toward the type of training you’re interested in is to request an overview, along with a breakdown of the courses that are involved. You can also schedule an appointment with an admissions counselor at the school.
5. Hands-on experience. It’s also important to find out if a program includes any hands-on training. Will students be required to complete any exercises on their own? Does the school offer any access to internships or externships? Will graduates be in a position to hit the ground running once they embark upon a career?
6. Career services. It’s safe to assume that the goal of enrolling at a career institute will be to gain a foothold in a certain job field. Along those lines, it’s beneficial to know whether students will have ongoing access to a career services department. Ideally, department administrators will be dedicated to helping students make valuable connections, sharpen their resumes, and even embark upon a job search. Career services may also take the lead in helping students pursue any available externships.
7. Post-graduate resources. Continued access to the school’s staff and job-hunting programs after you graduate can be a powerful advantage. After several months spent using available resources at a career training school, it’s good to know the door is always open. This way, you can return after graduation to meet with trusted advisors, or continue your job search using familiar software.