Options for Life After High School
Do you dream of being a pastry chef? Building cars? If you have specific career goals, you may want to consider a college that trains you in that particular area.
To prepare for some careers you may need to attend a specialized college — such as culinary college. For others, especially more technical jobs, you may need to go to a vocational-technical college.
Accredited institutions like these prepare students for specific skill-based careers, and are known as career colleges. Career college programs generally range from two to four years, depending on the extent of training required.
While many students choose to attend career colleges, others pursue these interests at community colleges, which often have lower tuition costs. Consider which one best suits your needs as you explore your options.
A Variety of Programs
If you’re pursuing a career in any of these fields (among others), you might choose to attend a career college:
- Computer technology
- Radio and television broadcasting
- Business administration
- Culinary arts
- Paralegal studies
- Mechanical engineering
- Commercial art
- Dental hygiene
You can find career colleges in just about every city and region in this country, with programs in exactly what interests you.
At career colleges, you typically don’t take general education classes in core subjects such as English and math. Instead, you focus on career-related courses. And at many, you complete the program in one uninterrupted period of anywhere from 10 to 18 months of study. When you complete your program, you receive a certificate of completion or an Associate of Science degree.
Finding the Right Program
To find an accredited career college that fits your specific needs and interests, meet with your counselor, and use College Search. Once you find colleges that fit your needs and interests, be sure to consider the following:
- Cost: How much does the program cost (including tuition, commuting and books)? What types of scholarships and other financial assistance does the college offer?
- Requirements: What kinds of classes, in addition to the hands-on training, do you need to earn a degree? Can any of the classes you took in high school be applied toward these requirements?
- Credentials: Is the college licensed by the state? Is it accredited? If yes, by whom?
- Faculty: What teaching approaches do they use? What are their qualifications?
- Classes: What are the classes like? How big are the classes?
- Student body: How much hands-on training is there? What are the internship opportunities?
Catalogs, websites and your counselor can answer some of these questions, but to get a feel for the college, you should make time for a campus visit. While you're there, speak to students and faculty members, and schedule time to sit in on a class.
A critical aspect of the career colleges you explore are their job placement services. You are about to make a substantial financial investment in your future and you need to understand all the implications before you begin.
Ask the admission officers how job placements are handled. Request specific job-placement statistics for the field you are interested in. Make sure that a good percentage of students get placement in suitable jobs before you commit to enrolling.
Consider All Your Options
While these colleges clearly have their benefits, keep in mind that training in a specific field may limit your options if you decide to change careers later. You're also giving up the more general, well-rounded education that a liberal arts program has to offer. So, before you commit to a career college, be sure you're choosing a career that can keep you happy and fulfilled in the years to come.