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What to Ask Interior Design Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior design degree that you wish to earn, you can begin the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the campus has to be within commuting distance from your Atmore AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But selecting the least expensive college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you need to consider also, including the accreditation and reputation of the program. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers as well as others in order to help you compare and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national agency. One of the most highly regarded in the field is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just confirm that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the training are exceptional, it may also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited colleges. Also, a number of Atmore AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do mandate that interior designers get licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited school. And in some of those States mandating licensing, 2 or more years of work experience may be required as well. So besides furnishing an exceptional education, the Atmore AL college you enroll in should also furnish the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the Program's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job assistance program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good sign that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It may also signify that the college has a substantial network of Atmore AL business contacts where they can refer students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial assistance offices for the Atmore AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what type of support they provide. Many of interior design colleges offer financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships while others provide help in securing federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited college is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive limited individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Atmore AL colleges you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Atmore home, visit the school and attend a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, verify that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Atmore AL, make sure that those classes are available. If you have a full-time job and can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, ask what the process is for making up classes missed because of illness, work or family emergencies.