What to Ask Interior Design Schools
When you have chosen the interior designer degree that you want to earn, you can start the process of assessing your school options. Location will be an important issue, especially if the school has to be within driving distance from your Elba AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending a school online, or are willing to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The cost of tuition will decrease your choices also. But choosing the least expensive 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 need to consider as well, including the reputation and accreditation of the program. Following are a list of questions that you may want to address with the schools you are looking at to get those answers in addition to others to help you assess and ultimately pick the right degree program.
Is the Interior Designer College Accredited? It's important to verify that the interior designer school and program that you select has earned accreditation from either a national or regional agency. One of the most highly regarded in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Colleges earning accreditation from the NASAD have gone through an extensive assessment of their instructors 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 agency. Not only will it help confirm that the reputation of the school and the quality of the training are excellent, it may also help when obtaining financial assistance or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited schools. Also, a number of Elba AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited programs for entry level jobs.
Does the College Ready you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require 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 college. And in several of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of professional experience may be required as well. Therefore besides providing an excellent education, the Elba AL school you select should also furnish the proper education 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 obtained your interior design certification, you will no doubt need some assistance in finding your first job. Ask the colleges 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 a good sign that the college and its programs are held in high regard within the interior design field and its students are in demand. It might also indicate that the college has a sizable network of Elba AL business contacts where they can place students to secure internships or jobs after graduation.
Is Financial Assistance Provided? Get in touch with the financial assistance departments for the Elba AL schools you are evaluating and ask what kind of assistance they provide. A number of interior design colleges provide financial assistance to their new students. Some colleges offer partial scholarships and others provide support in securing grants or federal student loans. Again it must be stressed that selecting an accredited college is essential for qualification in most cases. Often a college that has a higher tuition may ultimately be cheaper than its competitors because they offer more generous financial aid.
How Large are the Classrooms? Small classes are more personal and conducive to one on one instruction. If classes are larger, you probably will receive little individual attention from the teachers. Find out from the Elba AL programs you are looking at what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Elba home, go to the college and attend a few classes. While there talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching philosophies are and what their backgrounds are in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Fit your Schedule? Finally, make certain that the interior designer school you select offers classes the fit your hectic schedule. This is especially important if you will continue working while attending school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Elba AL, verify that those classes are available. If working full-time means you can only enroll part-time, check that is an option as well. Finally, ask what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.