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What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Now that you have decided on the interior designer degree that you wish to earn, you can start the task of analyzing your school options. Location will be a critical factor, especially if the college needs to be within driving distance from your Gulf Shores AL home. Of course if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options as well. But choosing the most affordable school or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider as well, such as the accreditation and reputation of the program. Following are a few questions that you may want to ask the programs you are looking at to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer program and school that you enroll in has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools receiving accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a rigorous evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it may also help when requesting financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, many Gulf Shores AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the School Ready you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, several States do require that interior designers get licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States mandating licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required also. Therefore aside from providing an exceptional education, the Gulf Shores AL program you enroll in should also furnish the proper training to pass the NCIDQ examination and comply with the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior designer certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first job. Ask the programs that you are considering if they have a job assistance program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Gulf Shores AL business relationships where they can refer students to secure internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Gulf Shores AL colleges you are evaluating and ask what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design schools offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide assistance in obtaining grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be cheaper than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Small are the Classrooms? Smaller classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive limited individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Gulf Shores AL colleges you are reviewing what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Gulf Shores home, go to the college and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching approaches are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Last, verify that the interior designer program you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly significant if you will continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Gulf Shores 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 option as well. Finally, check what the procedure is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.