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What to Ask Interior Design Schools
After you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of analyzing your college options. Location will be a critical issue, particularly if the school needs to be within driving distance from your Juneau AK residence. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are prepared to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualifier. The expense for tuition will narrow down your options also. But choosing the least expensive college or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other factors that you should look at as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a list of concerns that you may want to ask the colleges you are considering to obtain those answers in addition to others in order to help you assess and ultimately select the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's necessary to verify that the interior design school and program that you enroll in has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges obtaining accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their teachers and programs. Just verify 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 verify that the reputation of the college and the quality of the education are outstanding, it may also help when applying for financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not available for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Juneau AK employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level positions.
Does the College Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, 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 college. And in several of those States requiring licensing, 2 or more years of occupational experience may be required also. So besides furnishing an excellent education, the Juneau AK program you enroll in should also furnish the suitable education to pass the NCIDQ exam and satisfy the minimum licensing requirements for Alaska or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and obtained your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first position. 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 an excellent indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Juneau AK business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Provided? Contact the financial aid departments for the Juneau AK colleges you are looking at and find out what kind of support they offer. Many of interior designer programs offer financial aid to their incoming students. Various colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited program is important for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial aid.
How Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are larger, you may receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Ask the Juneau AK schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Juneau home, go to the school and monitor a couple of 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 Offered that Accommodate your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you plan to continue working while going to college. If you can only go to classes at night or on weekends near Juneau AK, make certain that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, verify that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.