What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
Once you have decided on the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of reviewing your college options. Location will be an important factor, particularly if the campus has to be within driving distance from your Alexandria AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are able to relocate to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will limit your choices as well. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is nearest to your residence are not the best ways to make your decision. There are other issues that you should consider also, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Below are a few concerns that you may want to ask the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you compare and subsequently pick the ideal degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has been accredited by either a national or regional organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges receiving accreditation from the NASAD have undergone a rigorous evaluation of their programs and instructors. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when requesting financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Alexandria AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited programs for entry level positions.
Does the School Prepare you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, a number of States do mandate that interior designers become licensed. This would require a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an exceptional education, the Alexandria AL college you select should also furnish the appropriate education to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill 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 attained your interior designer certification, you will undoubtedly want some assistance in finding your first position. Ask the schools that you are considering if they have a job placement program. If yes, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is a good indication that the college and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design field and its students are sought after. It could also indicate that the college has a substantial network of Alexandria AL business relationships where they can refer students to obtain internships or employment after they graduate.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Contact the financial aid departments for the Alexandria AL schools you are looking at and ask what type of support they offer. Many of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools provide partial scholarships while others provide help in acquiring federal student loans or grants. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited school is imperative for qualification in most cases. Sometimes a college that has a higher tuition may effectively be less expensive than its competitors because they provide more generous financial assistance.
How Small are the Classes? Smaller classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you may receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Alexandria AL schools you are considering what their typical student to teacher ratios are. If practical from your Alexandria home, visit the campus and sit in on a couple of classes. While there talk with some students and find out 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior design school you choose offers classes the fit your active schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending college. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Alexandria AL, confirm that those classes are offered. If you have a full-time job and can only enroll part-time, confirm that is an alternative also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.