Key Things to Consider When Choosing a Higher Education Program
If you’re looking at enrolling in a higher education program in the coming months or years, it is important to consider a wide variety of factors. While many people really just look at the academic reputation of a facility, there are many other elements that are just as important and should be weighed up carefully. Before you spend the time and money on a course or program, here are some things you need to look into.
First, it’s important to think about how far you will have to travel from home in order to attend a facility. While students just out of school may be keen to get as far away from their families as possible, doing so does up the costs involved because it takes away the opportunity of still living (and eating) at home. You should also investigate if the campus you’re keen on is actually close to anything else, such as places where you might be able to get a job to help with expenses, or food outlets, accommodation options, nightlife, bookshops, transportation choices, or other resources relevant to your needs.
Location is important for older students, too. If you have a job that you’re trying to fit studying around, it can make a big difference if you find a nearby educational institution and don’t have to add in many extra hours of travel each week. Also, if you have a family and need to be close to home to organize school drop-offs, pick-ups, extra-curricular activities, and the like, you would also likely need to consider the distance a facility will be from your home.
Flexibility of Courses
Another thing to think about when comparing educational providers is how flexible they are. For example, are the programs you’re interested in flexible enough that they will allow you to study all the topics you want or need to learn about, or would you be locked into having to complete many units that aren’t so suitable?
If you need to fit studies in around a job or other commitments, the flexibility on offer at an institution is also key. For example, you may need to find a continuing education program that can be studied online, at any time of the day or night; or you might want to select a course that can be accelerated and finished in, say, two years rather than three. If overseas study is important to you, you should also look into the availability of spending a semester or more abroad during your studies.
Career Support Provided
Something else that a lot of students don’t consider enough when deciding on a campus is the type, and amount, of career support provided by the facility. After all, you’re not just enrolling in a course for the fun of it, but rather to land a promotion, your dream job, or the kind of work experience that will help you to build a successful business. As such, choosing an education provider that is dedicated to helping students find work and build connections is of particular importance.
When comparing institutions, find out if they have a robust careers services center on campus or via an online portal; and try to find out specific information about the number of students per career counselor, and the availability of meetings. You should ask about job fairs, on-campus interviews, networking and alumni groups, internship placements, and the like. It pays to find out about the professors or teachers you will be working closely with too — that is, have they worked in the field themselves, and do they have connections with relevant employers that could be helpful?
University Culture and Facilities
Lastly, take the time to find out about the type of culture you would find yourself amongst if you choose a particular education provider, and the facilities that will be provided. For example, does the campus have a positive school spirit and a sense of community? Is there diversity on campus? Examine whether there seem to be students from many different backgrounds and cultures attending programs, that you could get to know and learn from; and ask yourself whether you would likely be happy and fit in if you attend there.
If you need particular facilities or services in order to be comfortable and/or prosperous at an institution, make sure these will be provided, too. You might need, for instance, to ask about disabled bathrooms, ramps, and parking spots on campus; the safety record of the area and the security provided; sporting facilities and groups; other extracurricular clubs; financial aid and scholarship opportunities; or on-site housing options.