Choosing a School
What you need to think about before you enroll
Before you enroll at a community college, you'll need to research both the school itself and the program you're interested in. You'll also need to know what is involved in the enrollment process, and what happens if you are accepted. Here's a list of some factors to consider when choosing a career college and planning your acceptance strategy:
- Necessity - For some careers, you may not even need to go to school. The best way to practice your skills might be as an apprentice to someone currently working in the industry. That said, a formal education is always a benefit.
- Course availability - How well does the school match up with your needs? Does it offer the courses you want and need to pursue your career?
- Reputation - How does the school compare to other community colleges in the area? Most people prefer to choose a school based on what they have heard about it from friends, family and colleagues. Word of mouth is important, but often opinions in such matters are based on old information and out-of-date reputations. Make sure you talk to recent graduates or current students. It's also a very good idea to find out what employers think of the school.
- Instructors - What are the teachers' qualifications? How long have they been teaching and how long have they been in the industry or trade? Don't put all your stock in this issue, however. Experience is important, but you should also consider the fact that older instructors may not be as up to date with new technology and methods.
- Accreditation - Is the school officially recognized?
- The application process - Have you completely filled out your application forms and sent them, along with any other important forms, to the school(s) that you want to attend?
- Admissions - Once you have sent your application in, all you can do is wait and hope you are accepted, but you can familiarize yourself with the timeline and notification procedures of each school.
- Tuition - You've been accepted! Now comes the bad part: finding out just how much it's going to cost to attend school.
- Financial aid - Have you applied for any grants, scholarships or loans? Few students can afford to pay for their education all on their own. There's nothing wrong with looking for outside sources who can offer a little assistance.