As you think about your future, you may be considering options other than attending a traditional four-year college or you may be looking at changing careers. You could be planning for a vocation or employment that instead requires special training, a certificate or a two-year degree.
If so, you will need to do some homework to be sure the program you choose is right for you and your budget.
The California Career Center has lots of good information to help you choose a career. You can visit their website here. The center has created a Career Planning Guide to help you explore your options.
Once you’ve thought about what you’d like to do, you’ll need to learn what training is required to get a job in the field. It’s always a great idea to identify a business where you’d like to work and ask them what programs or paths they recommend. Another idea is to learn what testing is required to get a license in that field and what group administers it. That organization should have a list of recognized schools that can train you.
Your education doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Community colleges offer many programs and classes that can fulfill requirements needed for job training and the costs are reasonable. Many students may choose to attend a private, for-profit postsecondary school or program and government grants and loans may be available to assist you financially.
Many students don’t realize that some postsecondary schools are public and subsidized by the state of California, while some postsecondary schools are private; that is, owned by an individual, partnership, corporation or limited liability partnership. Some of the main differences between the two are:
- Private schools will generally have a few focused programs, while public schools often offer a wide variety of programs.
- Private schools will cost more money, but may offer smaller, more personalized classes than public schools.
- Private schools generally offer shorter, more condensed terms, often allowing you to complete your program in a shorter period of time, while public schools have traditional semesters or quarters.
These private postsecondary schools need to be approved by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to ensure they meet minimum requirements for operating. The bureau warns potential students to beware of diploma mills which are defined in the Webster’s dictionary as “an institution of higher education operating without supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or, because of the lack of proper standards, worthless. Such organizations are unaccredited, but they often claim accreditation by non-recognized or unapproved organizations set up for the purposes of providing a veneer of authenticity.” The Internet is filled with diploma mill websites.
You can check to see if a school is approved on the bureau’s website here.
California Career Center encourages you to consider some questions when choosing a private, for-profit school.
- Is the school approved by the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education?
- Is the school accredited by the California Department of Education?
- Are the school’s courses current and appropriate for you?
- How long will the training take?
- What is the total cost of the program including tuition, fees, supplies and books?
- Is the equipment current and how much “hands-on” use will you actually get on it?
- Have you thoroughly read the available program material provided by the school?
- Have you toured the school? What were your impressions?
- How long has the school been in business? When was it last accredited?
- Does the school help place you in a job? What is the typical starting salary?
- If you are living away from home, how much will it cost you for room and board?
- Have you asked current and past students about how they liked their experiences at the school?
- Have you asked potential employers if they would hire graduates of the school and what they think of them?
- Have you researched other schools and compared them?
- Have you discussed your research with your parents or guardian and counselor before making a final decision?
Doing your homework and asking the right questions will help you make the career training choice that is right for you.