Questions to Ask Schools You are Considering

Education it seems is profitable business. What with the number of diploma mills and so called 'accredited' colleges that are mushrooming all over the country, the average American student is overwhelmed by choices.

With every school claiming its superiority, it may be difficult for you to identify the genuinely good ones from the colleges or schools that are substandard. Before you enroll in a program, ask the schools you're considering the following questions and see what they have to say!

Accreditation
By choosing an accredited and licensed school, you can be assured that your degree meets a basic set of standards. Jot down the names of schools that appeal to you and then ask the following questions:

Industry Reputation
Generally speaking, if reputed companies are picking up students from the previous batches, you can safely assume that the school has a good reputation in the industry.

  • What kind of credential would I get upon graduation? Would potential employers recognize it?
  • What are the companies that have been hiring your school's graduates in the last seven years?
  • What are the companies that have been hiring your school's graduates in my program of choice?

Placement
The previous years' placement records are a good way to gauge the school's reputation and credibility.

  • What are the graduate survey results for your school in the last three years?
  • What is your placement record in my program of choice in the last 10 years?
  • Does this school provide a work experience program? If so, who would be responsible for finding the work placement, the students or the school?
  • If the school has advertised its placement rates, check if it also publishes the following:
- Graduation statistics
- Recent employment statistics
- Other information to back its claims
Alumni
The following questions you can ask students that have graduated from a college or university of interest.
  • Could you provide me with a list of graduates that I can talk to? (If you do get to talk to graduates, ask them all about their training and if they eventually found the kind of work that they wanted after they finished school.)
  • Could you team me up with a student for a day? If you do team up with a student, here are some questions you can ask:
- Do you like the program?
- Why would you recommend it for me?
- Do you think that you're learning what you need to know to get work?
- What is your opinion of the faculty?
- Does the faculty spend time to ensure you understand course materials?
- Have you faced any problems with the school, the classes or the faculty?
Finance
  • How much would the program cost? Are tuition waivers available?
  • Do you provide fellowships and assistantships? What are the criteria required for application?
  • What are the forms of financial aid available? When are the deadlines?
  • What is your set of criteria for selecting financial aid recipients?
  • What is the process by which you determine financial need?
  • What is the type and amount of assistance you provide students with?
  • How and when would students receive the financial aid payments?
  • If I change my mind after I apply, will I get back my fees?
  • What is your return-of-aid policy?

Additional Financial Aid Information and Resources can be found in our article Options for Financial Aid and Assistance, for students that need to interested in grants, scholarships or student loans.

Admission Requirements

  • When are the admission deadlines?
  • Would I be required to take standardized tests before admission?
  • What are the required application materials?
  • Who makes the admission decisions and what are the criteria used?
  • In what way and when will I be notified about admission?
Timeframe
  • How long would this program take?
  • Do students have to attend full-time?
  • Are part-time options available?
Job Outlook
  • When was the curriculum last revised? (This should give you an idea about whether the course keeps pace with latest industry practices)
  • Will I be using up-to-date equipment, machinery and processes?
  • Do you focus more on theory or on practical work?
  • How much money do students of this program usually make upon graduation?
  • Does the course offer internships, externships and apprenticeship programs that will add value to my future?
Course Details
  • What is the size of the program?
  • May I know the background of the faculty handling my course?
  • Do you often hold seminars and invite visiting speakers?
  • What are the student activities generally offered?
  • What are the requirements for obtaining my degree?
  • Will I have access to support services?
  • Will I be required to take extra background courses/prerequisites?

Others

  • Would I be allowed to sit in on a class or two before I decide?
  • Would it be possible to talk to a few faculty members?
  • Do your credits transfer to other schools?
  • If I were to start taking classes here, and I have to move, will my course be recognized by another school?
  • What is your school's completion and transfer-out rate?

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