I recently started looking into updating my education. It seems that a high school diploma and job experience will only get you so far in life. An Associate Degree plus experience might get you a little further. But if you want any kind of technical or professional job you probably need at least a Bachelor’s Degree. For some employers even that isn’t enough. They want you to have a Master’s Degree or even better a PhD.
The other day I visited a college fair. You get to talk with representatives of different colleges about their college or university and how it might fit your needs. As I went from table to table, I would introduce myself and ask them 2 questions. First, are they regionally accredited? Second, do they offer the degree I’m looking for? If they answered NO to either of those questions, I said thanks and then moved on to the next one. I found four colleges that seemed to offer what I was looking for.
The next day I was sharing my experience with a friend who asked me another question. What about their reputation? She works in human resources and notices things like that. When I enquired about what she was talking about, she said some colleges or universities have reputations. After pondering that, I have to agree with her. A reputation, good or bad, can be associated with the name of a school. Reputation is one more thing that must be considered when looking for a school.
Upon further investigation of the four colleges I found at the college fair, everything was not exactly what it seemed. Some of the schools weren’t listed for Federal Student Aid.
Questions to ask a prospective college:
- Do they offer a degree in the major you’re looking for?
- It doesn’t make sense to attend a school that doesn’t offer the major you’re looking for unless the college transfers into the graduate school you want to attend.
- Where were their professors educated?
- Hopefully the educators have a diverse mix of education from well known universities.
- What kind of accreditation do they have?
- Does it matter? You betcha, if you plan to continue your education at another college.
- Some employers and educational institutions assign more credibility to certain types of accreditation.
- Check with prospective employer(s) about the kind of education they’re looking for in an employee.
- Will the graduate school you’re planning to attend accept a Bachelor’s Degree from their college or university?
- Some colleges will accept the credit if it is from a college that is accredited by the same type of accrediting agency.
- Usually, they will tell you that you can get a Masters Degree through their college.
- Does their school qualify for Federal Student Aid?
- If the college is not listed, you might want to investigate further. Why didn’t the college qualify?
- How much will it cost per semester?
- What about books, lab and parking fees?
- Where is their campus located?
- What is their student/faculty ratio?
Research you need to do:
- Verify the college’s credibility
- Google their reputation
- Read reviews
- Check with your online networks for opinions
- See where employees of your target company went to school – you can find this information on LinkedIn or with Google.
- Check if the school is listed for Federal Student Aid. http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/FOTWWebApp/FSLookupServlet
- Check Accreditation
- Database of all accredited postsecondary institutions (Regional, National, DETC): http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/Search.aspx
- Regionally accredited colleges including Junior Colleges: http://www.utexas.edu/world/univ/
- List of regionally accredited colleges: http://www.k12.wa.us/certification/colleges/reg_accred.html