8 Must-Ask Questions When Selecting a School
January 29, 2015
Choosing which school to attend is a huge decision. In fact, the decision you make will undoubtedly impact the course of your future, which is why now is the time to learn as much as possible about every school and program you're considering.
During your research, you’ll find answers to some of your questions online, but if you want precise details about your specific interests, you’ll likely need to speak with someone from the school. However, touring a campus or attending an Open House will give you the best picture of the average student's experience and help you decide whether the campus will be your future home.
For every school you're considering, we recommend asking these 8 questions.
1. What experience does the faculty have?
Your instructors are responsible for teaching you the skills you need to thrive in the real world, so make sure these people have the right knowledge, skills, and creative experience needed to be your mentors. Some school websites include faculty bios, but it’s also a great idea to attend an open house or schedule a time to tour the school, as you may be able to meet some of the instructors in-person.
2. What will my classes and coursework be like?
No two schools offer the exact same program, so try to find out as much as you can prior to enrolling. Check the specific program page online to look for course listings or a course catalog, examples of student work, programs goals or outcomes, and anything else you can find. Open Houses will sometimes have students or alumni attend, allowing you to get answers from those with all the inside details.
3. Where are your alumni now?
Knowing what alumni from a school and your program of interest are doing now can be revealing. A school should be able to point to multiple instances of notable, successful graduates now working in their field of choice. They may also provide examples of the careers their graduates typically pursue, common entry-level positions they find, or specific companies that often hire their graduates. Check a school’s website for alumni success stories and information.
4. What can I get involved with on campus?
Campus life is a huge part of your college experience, so don’t overlook this question! When you find activities you’re passionate about, it’s much easier to meet students with similar interests. Plus, these activities can help you gain valuable experience on creative projects, and often, you can add these activities to your resume to jumpstart your job search upon graduation. For this question, a school’s social media sites like Facebook or YouTube may provide you with a little extra insight, including posts or videos about school events and students groups.
5. What kind of technology and software will I use?
It’s important to choose a school where you will use and learn the latest creative arts technology and software, so that you’ll have marketable, relevant skills when you graduate. This information is typically provided on the specific program page of a school website, but make it a point to stop by a technology and computer lab when you’re at the campus so you have an even better understanding.
Along these lines, it’s good to learn how you’ll stay connected to the school when you’re not in class—many schools offer an online area where you can check your grades or participate in a discussion thread, and some even offer a mobile app that can help you manage your schoolwork on a day-to-day basis.
6. What kind of support do you offer to students?
You want faculty and staff members who are there to support you when you need them. If you’re struggling with a design project, having trouble managing a heavy course load, or just need to talk when you’re feeling stressed, it’s great to know someone is always there. And don’t forget about to ask about what career resources and tools are available and when, so that you know you have the guidance you need to pursue the career you're passionate about. This is another question where the website might have some details, but you’ll learn the most on the phone or during a one-on-one visit.
7. What kind of options will I have for paying for school?
The cost of tuition is typically one of the biggest deciding factors when choosing a school, and, before you create a financial plan, you’ll need to understand all of the costs associated with your program of choice, as well as all your opportunities to reduce that total cost. Contact the school’s financial aid office to learn about tuition and fees, discuss transfer of credit opportunities, and learn about what options may be available to you, including grants, loans, and scholarships.*
8. Is your school accredited?
On top of everything we’ve covered above, like faculty, technology, and student support, you’ll also want to make sure the school you’re considering is accredited. Accrediting agencies set evaluation criteria and conduct periodic assessments to ensure educational institutions meet certain quality standards. Accreditation and Licensing information should always be included on a school’s website.
*Financial aid is available to those who qualify.
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