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Thinking About Vocational School? Be Realistic About What to Expect
Vocational, trade, career, technical–Whatever you call the school, the objective of the curriculum is the same; to teach students a marketable trade not usually offered in traditional colleges and universities.
Vocational schools sometimes get a bad rap as not providing a “real” education. This is really not the case. Vocational schools are geared towards students and career changers looking to acquire useful job skills. Vocational schools are not designed for the scholarly student interested in a career as a Classical Literature professor at an Ivy League university some day.
Vocational schools serve a number of very important sectors of the population.
- High school grads that are not pursuing a traditional 4-year university degree, either due to interest of finances, but who want a career that requires knowledge and training.
- Those in need of additional training to advance in their careers
- Adults who are re-entering the workforce after some time and now need training in order to be competitive in the job market.
What Vocational School Is Not
Vocational school is not a training ground for someone trying to pursue a high level career in Business or Science. While most vocational schools are great at giving its students the best tools to make them competitive, the reality is that employers do consider what school you went to when you apply for certain jobs. If your dream is to be a Wall Street banker, then a business degree from schools like Harvard or Yale is what you’ll need to get you in the door. If you’re more interested in a good stable career such as a Pharmacy Technician, Computer Help Desk Specialist, Cosmetologist, Auto Mechanic or Electrician, then a vocational school is a much better option than a 4-year university.
Questions You Need Answers To Before Enrolling In A Vocational Program:
1. Is the school accredited?
Accreditation means that the school’s curriculum has met high standards for education quality. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges(ACCSC) is the most prestigious of such accrediting agencies, but they are not the only one. Some smaller regional schools may be accredited by a local agency, but that does not mean that the quality of education is not as good as larger schools that have been accredited by ACCSC. The important thing is that the school has allowed itself to be examined by an outside agency with regard to the quality of its programs.
2. What Is the Graduation Rate for Those Entering the Training Programs?
If this number is high, say 70% or more, this is a good sign that students find value in what they are learning, and that the school takes good care of its students. If the dropout rate is very high, say more than 50%, this could be an indication that students don’t feel that they are getting out of the program what they expected. You do have to allow for some students dropping out due to personal or financial reasons that have nothing to do with the school at all, but a high dropout rate is reason for pause.
3. Does the School Offer Federal Financial Aid?
In addition to this being a means to help pay for your training, a school that receives federal funding has to be reviewed and approved by the federal government. Being eligible to offer federal financial aid is a good indication that the school is on the up and up.
4. Does The School Offer Job Placement Assistance Upon Program Completion?
Most vocational schools do offer placement assistance, especially those that receive federal financial aid. This is because one of the standards the school has to meet in order to qualify for aid is proof that a certain percentage of its students find gainful employment upon graduation.
5. What Percentage of Graduates Find Jobs in Their Field and What Is The Average Salary?
This is very important information to have since it will help you make an informed decision about whether the program is competitive and what your future might look like with that particular training under your belt. The numbers may be lower than normal during a significant downturn in the economy, but the school should be able to give you historic data so that you can get an idea of what to expect during economic prosperity.
Vocational school is a great alternative to traditional colleges in that they prepare you for an actual job. You just have to be smart about the type of program you pursue. Again, vocational schools may offer a wide range of programs, but only some make sense to pursue in that setting. Programs in Healthcare, Culinary Arts, Cosmetology and Massage Therapy are great choices. Business programs in Office Management or Bookkeeping are good, but programs in Finance are probably not the way to go.
If you’re interested in pursuing vocational training, VocationalSchoolSearcher.com has plenty of programs for you to check out. Speak with a school representative to request a brochure or schedule a campus tour. You may be well on your way to a great career!
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