Choosing between vocational schools can be as difficult as choosing a career path. In both cases, the decision could have long-ranging impacts on your life, and represents a serious investment of your time. It is important to conduct proper research before making any choice, and a number of aspects should be considered before arriving at a decision:
- Your specific career interests
- Cost of the school
- The school's reputation for producing successful students
- Length of the program you plan on enrolling in
Once these aspects have been thoroughly considered, you can make an educated choice on how to proceed in terms of your education and career path. Conducting the proper research in advance will greatly determine how much your choice will positively impact you in the future.
Before enrolling in any school, it is important to determine what your career goals are. The Computer Systems Institute recommends not entering a program to find out if it is a good "fit." This can be an incredible waste of time and money. It is best to figure out well in advance what course of study you want to pursue, and to be confident in this decision.
Far too many people enter school with little to no idea of what career they would like to pursue, and the result is changing programs multiple times before arriving at a course of study that suits them. When you know what you want to study, your path to that field becomes much shorter.
Your budget will play a role in the school that you choose. You will need to consider how much you can afford to spend on your education and for how long. If you do not have enough savings to be a full-time student, you need to choose a school that allows you to maintain employment while enrolled in the school. Certainly, it is sometimes wise to go outside of your budget for the school that has an ideal program for you, especially since this decision has significant long-term implications.
When possible, research the school's reputation and speak to former students. You will want to find out how many students are able to land jobs in their field of study, and how many of those that did land jobs feel that their education adequately prepared them for their career. You want to select a school that has a very high success rate in placing students in their stated field, and you should feel absolutely prepared for your career when you graduate.
Path to Certification
This is not, of course, a place where you want to cut corners. One aspect to consider is how long it will take you to earn your industry certification or to graduate from the program that you enroll in. You may have economic needs that prevent you from being able to spend certain amounts of time enrolled in school. This is not to say that you should be looking for shortcuts, but you also should be looking at programs that are commensurate in scope and see how long each one takes to complete at a given rate. All things being equal, it is sometimes best to take the path that leads to the beginning of a career faster than another.