What to Ask Interior Designer Colleges
Once you have selected the interior design degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the school must be within commuting distance from your Cottondale AL residence. Of course if you are interested in attending a school online, or are willing to relocate to attend classes, then location might not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will narrow down your choices as well. But picking the cheapest school or the one that is closest to your house are not the ideal ways to make your selection. There are other things that you should look at also, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Below are a list of questions that you may want to address with the colleges you are looking at to obtain those answers as well as others to help you compare and ultimately select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Designer Degree Program Accredited? It's essential to make sure that the interior design college and program that you choose 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). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through a demanding evaluation of their programs and teachers. Just verify that both the degree program and the college have been accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting agency. Not only will it help verify that the reputation of the school and the quality of the education are outstanding, it might also help when obtaining financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Cottondale AL employers will only hire graduates of accredited schools for entry level positions.
Does the Program Prep you for Licensing? As we previously mentioned, some States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination as well as a degree from an accredited program. And in several of those States requiring licensing, at least 2 years of work experience may be required as well. So in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Cottondale AL college you choose should also provide the appropriate instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and fulfill the minimum licensing requirements for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the School's Job Placement Rate? After you have graduated and attained your interior design certification, you will no doubt want some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the schools that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If so, ask what their job placement rates are. A higher rate is an excellent sign that the school and its programs are held in high esteem within the interior design profession and its students are in demand. It might also signify that the college has a significant network of Cottondale AL business contacts where they can refer students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Offered? Get in touch with the financial aid offices for the Cottondale AL colleges you are reviewing and ask what kind of assistance they offer. Many of interior design schools provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain schools offer partial scholarships while others provide support in acquiring grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that choosing an accredited program is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a program that has a higher tuition may actually be less expensive than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive minimal individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Cottondale AL colleges you are considering what their average teacher to student ratios are. If practical from your Cottondale home, go to the college and attend a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to speak with a few students and find out 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 Fit your Schedule? Finally, confirm that the interior designer college you choose offers classes the fit your busy schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only attend classes in the evening or on weekends near Cottondale AL, make sure that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an option also. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed because of work, family or illness.