What to Ask Interior Designer Programs
After you have chosen the interior designer degree that you would like to earn, you can begin the task of assessing your college options. Location will be an important issue, particularly if the college must be within driving distance from your Jackson AL home. Obviously if you have decided on attending an online school, or are able to move to attend classes, then location may not be a qualification. The expense for tuition will limit your choices also. But picking the most affordable school or the one that is closest to your residence are not the optimal ways to make your selection. There are other issues that you need to look at as well, such as the reputation and accreditation of the school. Following are a list of concerns that you may want to address with the schools you are considering to get those answers as well as others to help you examine and subsequently select the appropriate degree program.
Is the Interior Design Degree Program Accredited? It's imperative to confirm that the interior designer program and college that you choose has been accredited by either a regional or national organization. One of the most respected in the industry is the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Schools earning accreditation from the NASAD have undergone an extensive evaluation of their programs and teachers. 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 might also help when applying for financial aid or a student loan. Often they are not offered for non-accredited colleges. Also, many Jackson AL employers will only employ graduates of accredited colleges for entry level jobs.
Does the Program Prepare you for Licensing? As we mentioned earlier, several States do require that interior designers become licensed. This would necessitate a passing score on the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam in addition to a degree from an accredited program. And in some of those States mandating licensing, a minimum of 2 years of occupational experience may be required as well. Therefore in addition to furnishing an excellent education, the Jackson AL program you enroll in should also provide the proper instruction to pass the NCIDQ exam and meet the minimum requirements for licensing for Alabama or the State where you will be working.
What is the College's Job Placement Rate? Once you have graduated and earned your interior designer certification, you will probably want some support in finding your first job. Ask the colleges that you are looking at if they have a job placement program. If yes, find out what their job placement rates are. A high rate is a good indication that the school and its programs are highly regarded within the interior design trade and its graduates are sought after. It may also signify that the school has a substantial network of Jackson AL business contacts where they can place students to obtain internships or employment after graduation.
Is Financial Aid Available? Contact the financial aid offices for the Jackson AL colleges you are looking at and find out what type of support they offer. A number of interior design programs provide financial assistance to their new students. Certain colleges provide partial scholarships and others provide assistance in acquiring grants or federal student loans. It must be emphasized again that enrolling in an accredited college is important 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 Big are the Classes? Small classes are more intimate and conducive to personalized instruction. If classes are large, you probably will receive minimal individual instruction from the teachers. Ask the Jackson AL schools you are considering what their average student to teacher ratios are. If convenient from your Jackson home, go to the college and monitor a couple of classes. Take the opportunity to talk with a few students and ask what their experiences have been. Ask the instructors what their teaching styles are and what their experiences have been in interior design.
Are Classes Available that Accommodate your Schedule? Last, make sure that the interior design school you select provides classes the fit your active schedule. This is particularly important if you plan to continue working while going to school. If you can only go to classes in the evening or on weekends near Jackson AL, make sure that those classes are offered. If working full-time means you can only attend part-time, check that is an alternative as well. Finally, find out what the protocol is for making up classes missed due to work, family or illness.