How to Choose the Best One Near Fairbanks Alaska
Enrolling in a trade school near Fairbanks AK with the ultimate goal of starting a new career can be a life changing accomplishment that requires prior due diligence and careful planning. But exactly how do you accomplish locating the best one with numerous vocational schools to select from? Of course you must select a school that is reputable and well regarded so you can be confident that you will receive the complete training necessary to succeed in your new occupation. Some prospective students make the mistake of selecting a vocational school simply because the campus is closest to their home or place of employment. Or they may gravitate to the school that charges the lowest tuition. But there are other important criteria besides location and cost that should be part of the decision making process as well. Added variables including the completion rates and accreditation of the schools are critical as well. So prior to beginning your evaluations and comparing trade schools, you must know what questions you should be asking so you can get the information to make a final choice. We will cover some of those questions later in this article. But first, let's look at some of the vocation options that are offered.
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Trade School Training Options
There are a number of trades to pick from in vocational schools that offer gratifying and high paying careers. Possibly you have already decided on one that you have long wished to pursue. For instance, maybe you have always had fun working on your car and have thought about using that ability to earn a living as an automotive tech. Or perhaps a relative has had a long and successful career in a certain trade or vocation and you would like to follow in his or her footsteps. Whatever your motivation is for going into a trade, there is likely a program offered that will give you the training that you need. Below is just a small representation of the trade school programs that are available in the Fairbanks AK area.
- Auto Mechanic
- Heating and Cooling (HVAC) Tech
- Electrical Technician
- Truck Driving
- Aircraft Maintenance Tech
- Lab Tech
- Construction Management
Each of the programs will have varying completion times and costs based upon the trade, type of credential and school. Some of the programs may be completed in just weeks, while others will necessitate months or even two or more years of training. Each of these variables must be taken into account before selecting a vocation and school.
Concerns to Ask Vocational School Programs
After you have selected the trade and type of degree or certificate that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can start to decrease your list of schools. As you are no doubt aware, there are many vocational schools in the Fairbanks AK area and all over the United States to choose from. That's why it is very important to have a checklist of relevant qualifiers when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, tuition and location will probably be the first two aspects you will take into consideration. Following are several additional ones that you should explore before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accredited. Many Fairbanks AK area vocational schools have attained either a regional or a national accreditation. They may acquire Institutional Accreditation, which focuses on the school's programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which pertains to a specific program, for instance HVAC technology. Make sure that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education recognized accrediting agency, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping ensure that you receive a superior education, it can help in securing financial assistance or student loans, which are in many cases not available for non-accredited programs. Also, some states mandate that the training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing where applicable.
How Long in Business? One indicator to help assess the quality of a vocational school near Fairbanks AK is how long it has been in operation. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school typically will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a big plus. Having said that, even the top schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of multiple qualifications.
Completion Rates. Ask the trade schools you are looking at what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and complete the course. A low completion rate might suggest that students were disappointed with the program and dropped out. It might also mean that the teachers were not competent to train the students. It's similarly essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader directory of alumni, which can mean more contacts for the school to employ for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate will not only validate that the school has an excellent reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Fairbanks AK area.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most training programs are taught together with an apprenticeship or an internship program. Those participating vocational and technical programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of contractors or labor unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have working relationships with Fairbanks AK area professionals in the trade. An apprenticeship not only offers a rewarding experience by providing practical training, but it also supplies job opportunities and helps to form relationships in the local professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the school facilities and the equipment that you will be instructed on are up-to-date and what you will be using on the job. If you are already in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the tech you are working under regarding what you should be expecting. Otherwise, ask a local Fairbanks AK contracting company if they can provide some tips. Also bear in mind that unless you are able to move, the school needs to be within driving distance of your home. Take note that if you decide to attend an out-of-state school, in addition to moving costs there might be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It's important that you receive as much personalized instruction as possible, which can be difficult in larger classes. Ask if you can monitor a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between students and instructors. Speak with some of the students and get their comments relating to class sizes and instruction. Last, speak with a few of the instructors and find out what their level of experience is in Alaska and what degrees or certifications they hold.
Flexible Scheduling. Make sure that the class schedules for the schools you are assessing are flexible enough to handle your needs. If you are only able to go to classes at night or on weekends near Fairbanks AK, check that the programs you are reviewing provide those options. If you can only attend on a part-time basis, make sure that the school you select allows part-time enrollment. Also, find out what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family responsibilities.
Find the Right Fairbanks Vocational School
Choosing the right trade school near Fairbanks AK is an important first step toward a fulfilling career in the vocation of your choice. As we have addressed in this post, you need to choose a school and a degree or certificate program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the field. Other factors to look for are sufficient practical training and modern facilities. You should go to each of the schools in person that you are most interested in to inspect the campus and talk with both the current students and faculty. Attempt to get a feel for the quality of the teaching and the interaction between them. Additionally, inquire about scheduling options and whether night or weekend classes are offered if needed. And don't forget to ask about financial assistance and student loan options as well. If you ask the proper questions as we have outlined in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you'll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the appropriate training, hard work and commitment, you can ultimately become a licensed professional in your chosen trade.