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Questions to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Now that you have chosen the interior design degree that you would like 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 Athens AL residence. Obviously if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The fee for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the cheapest college or the one that is closest to home are not the best ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a few questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers as well as others in order to help you examine and ultimately select the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer School Accredited? It's important to make sure that the interior designer college and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. 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 a rigorous assessment of their teachers and programs. Just make sure that both the college and the degree program have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help establish that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are exceptional, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not accessible for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Athens AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become 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 college. And in some of those States calling for licensing, a minimum of 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So aside from furnishing an outstanding education, the Athens AL program you select should also provide the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ examination and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be employed.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will probably need some support in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are reviewing if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design trade and its graduates are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a sizable network of Athens AL business connections where they can place students to obtain internships or jobs after they graduate.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Athens AL schools you are looking at and find out what kind of aid they provide. A number of interior design colleges offer financial aid to their new students. Some colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be less expensive than its counterparts because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Large are the Classes? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Athens AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If convenient from your Athens home, visit the school and monitor a few classes. Take the opportunity to speak with some students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their credentials are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you select provides classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially significant if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Athens AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, confirm that is an option as well. Finally, check what the process is for making up classes missed due to work, sickness or family obligations.