I know a fair bit about schools. I have attended at least ten educational institutions since I was five years old. I have studied on- and off- campus, online and in-person, freshman and as a senior, technical and academic. Given I’m a self-proclaimed expert, I thought I'd share my top five signs of a quality training institute.
Once I've decided the skills I want to gain, I start researching places where I can achieve my goals. The education institution you choose will play a vital role in your career journey. Not only should you leave with the qualifications you need, the knowledge you take away should easily be applied to your career. Here is how I can tell if a school is worth attending.
1. Ease of Communication
There’s no point attending an institution if you can’t communicate with them. Be it by email, website, telephone, or in person; you should be able to easily able to contact, and get a response from, your course provider. But you don’t just want them to talk to you: you also want to make sure staff are understanding, approachable, and responsive to your inquiries. There’s no point studying somewhere if you don’t feel you can get your questions answered. Locating information shouldn’t be a chore and the information you do get should be clear and understandable.
- Does the school feel welcoming, knowledgeable and understanding?
- Does their vision align with mine?
- Can I see them helping me with my career?
- What career and learning opportunities will be open to me when I finish this course?
- Does the course have a practical as well as a theoretical study program?
- Do I have the time and motivation to study?
2. Wealth of Expertise
It’s easy to start a training institution, the hard part is to continue to provide quality education over decades. Choose a school that has proven its longevity and stability. The expertise of the instructors and staff is also key to a great education. There’s no point learning from a teacher who has never worked in the industry, so ensure your instructors have experience both in teaching and in the field. As above, they should be approachable if you have any questions, but they should also be understanding of your needs and circumstances. Education is an investment in your career, so make sure you read reviews and talk to people you know that have studied at the same place.
3. Practical experience
There’s no point learning a whole heap of theory if you don’t know how it’s actually applied in the workplace. While certifications and qualifications are highly regarded, actually knowing how to use them is even more important. Choose a program that provides you with generalizable knowledge that you can apply in a variety of industries and workplaces. You can always do more short courses to specialize further or create more career opportunities. Externships, lab work and simulated environments provide great opportunities for putting theory into practice.
4. Flexibility of Study
It’s really important to ask yourself what you can actually manage. Do you want to study on campus or online? Both? Can you fit study in around family and work commitments? Classes should complement and fit into both your lifestyle and your career goals. Find out if the school offers flexible and hybrid classes, online courses, or on-campus only. Transport is another consideration, don’t forget to take commute times into account when weighing up studying online or in-person. If you want to study on-campus, would you have to drive or are there public transport options available?
5. Culture of Support
Communication is important, but an educational institution that has a culture of support goes much further than just being easy to talk to. Studying is not just about the program information, whether you are off or on campus, it is also about the people. Find out if the college has social groups available, including online study groups, Facebook pages, and special interest groups. A supportive atmosphere will enhance your learning experience, so make sure there are options available for financial assistance, careers advice, and counseling.