How to Choose a Vocational School near Opelika Alabama
Deciding to begin a new occupation and enroll in a vocational school near Opelika AL are important decisions that will profoundly affect your long term career. But with numerous vocational schools to select from, exactly how do you approach finding the right one? Not only do you need to make sure that you will receive the comprehensive training needed to be successful in your new occupation, but also that the school is reputable and well regarded. Some students make the mistake of selecting a vocational school just because the campus is closest to their home or place of employment. Others might be attracted to the one that has the lowest tuition. Of course the cost and location of the programs are critical considerations when evaluating vocational school options, but they should not be the only ones. Other variables such as reputation and accreditation of the schools are critical also. So prior to beginning your evaluations and comparing trade schools, you will need to know what questions you should be asking in order to get the information to make a final selection. We will cover a few of those questions shortly in this post. But first, let’s look at some of the trade options that are offered including the availability of online programs.
Trade School Program Options near Opelika AL
There are an abundance of professions to pick from in vocational schools that provide fulfilling and good paying careers. Maybe 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 given thought to using that ability to make a living as an automotive tech. Or perhaps a family member has had a prosperous career in a particular trade or vocation and you would love to follow in her or his footsteps. No matter what your inspiration is for going into a trade, there is likely a program offered that will provide the training that you need. Below is merely a small representation of the vocational training programs that are available in the Opelika AL area.
- Auto Mechanic
- Heating And Air Conditioning (HVAC) Tech
- Truck Driving
- Aircraft Maintenance Tech
- Lab Tech
- Construction Management
All programs will have differing costs and completion times depending on the vocation, credential earned and school. Some of the programs may be completed in just weeks, while others will call for several months or even 2 or more years of schooling. Each of these elements must be considered before choosing a trade and a school.
Trade Schools Online
Trade Schools online have become very popular with Opelika AL students and more and more accredited programs are becoming available. While learning online is a very convenient and accessible way to acquire a certificate or degree, it might not be the best option for every vocation or trade. For example, training to operate a tractor trailer is not something that you can accomplish online, nor is training how to weld. These are skills that must be acquired through hands on training and by doing it, not by studying or watching videos. But certain elements of the training may be suitable for online training, for example learning safety and driving regulations for truck driving schools or studying metallurgy or how to read blueprints for welder schools. Many programs will blend online education with on-campus lab work, such as for electrician or welding schools. So it is crucial to determine before enrolling in an online program for any vocation if there is an appropriate amount of practical training devoted to the curriculum. One means to help ensure that a vocational school program is both appropriate for online studying and provides comprehensive practical training is to verify that it’s accredited by a nationally acknowledged accrediting agency (more on accreditation later). For those vocations that are appropriate for training online, it can be a convenient way for those with limited time to learn a new vocation.
Concerns to Ask Trade School Programs
After you have chosen the trade and type of certificate or degree that you would like to earn, either on campus or online, you can begin to decrease your selection of schools. As you are probably aware, there are a large number of vocational schools in the Opelika AL area and all over the Country to select from. That’s why it is imperative to have a list of key qualifications when making school comparisons. As previously stated in our opening paragraph, location and tuition will undoubtedly be the initial two variables you will take into consideration. Following are some additional ones that you should research before enrolling in your school of choice.
Accreditation. A large number of Opelika AL area trade schools have earned either a regional or a national accreditation. They can attain Institutional Accreditation, which involves the school’s programs as a whole, or Programmatic Accreditation, which relates to an individual program, for instance HVAC technology. Confirm that the school and program are accredited by a U.S. Department of Education acknowledged accrediting organization, such as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Along with helping make certain that you get a quality education, it can help in securing financial aid or student loans, which are often not available for non-accredited programs. Also, many states mandate that the training program be accredited in order to be approved for licensing where applicable.
How Long in Business? One clue to help evaluate the quality of a trade school near Opelika AL is how long it has been in business. A negatively ranked or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a big plus. On the other hand, even the top schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so use it as one of several qualifications.
Completion Rates. Ask the tech schools you are reviewing what their completion rates are. The completion rate is the percentage of students who enroll in and finish the program. A lower completion rate could indicate that students were disappointed with the course and dropped out. It may also mean that the teachers were not qualified to instruct the students. It’s also essential that the schools have high job placement rates. Older and/or more reputable schools may have a broader list of graduates, which may produce more contacts for the school to use for their apprenticeship and job placement programs. A high job placement rate can not only validate that the school has a good reputation within the field, but additionally that it has the network of contacts to assist students obtain apprenticeships or jobs in the Opelika AL area.
Apprenticeship Programs. Most technical programs are taught in conjunction with an internship or an apprenticeship program. Those participating trade and vocational programs will help place you in an apprenticeship program inside their network of companies or trade unions. Ask if the schools you are reviewing have referring relationships with Opelika AL area specialists in the trade. An apprenticeship not only offers a valuable experience by supplying practical training, but it also provides job opportunities and helps to build relationships in the area professional community.
Modern Facilities. Make sure that the campus facilities and the tools that you will be instructed on are state-of-the-art and what you will be working with in the field. If you are presently in an internship or an apprenticeship, talk to the technician you are working under regarding what you should be looking for. Otherwise, ask a local Opelika AL contractor if they can provide some suggestions. Additionally bear in mind that unless you are able to relocate, the school must be within driving distance of your home. Take note that if you decide to enroll in an out-of-state school, besides the added moving costs there can be higher tuition charges compared to in-state residents.
Smaller Classes. It’s desirable that you receive as much personalized training as possible, which can be challenging in larger classes. Ask if you can sit in on a few of the classes so that you can see how big they are and experience the interaction between instructors and students. Speak to some of the students and get their comments regarding class sizes and instruction. Last, speak to a few of the teachers and find out what their level of experience is in Alabama and what degrees or certifications they have earned.
Flexible Scheduling. Confirm that the class schedules for the schools you are reviewing are flexible enough to meet your needs. If you can only attend classes at night or on weekends near Opelika AL, check that the programs you are looking at provide those options. If you can only attend part-time, make sure that the school you select permits part-time enrollment. Finally, ask what the policy is to make-up classes should you miss any because of work, illness or family emergencies.
Considering a Trade School near Opelika AL?
If you are looking at a trade school near Opelika AL, following is some interesting and relevant information regarding the location of your future school campus that may help you in making your decision.
Opelika (pronounced /ˌoʊpəˈlaɪkə/ OH-pə-LY-kə) is a city in and the county seat of Lee County in the east central part of the State of Alabama. It is a principal city of the Auburn-Opelika Metropolitan Area. According to the 2013 Census Estimate, the population of Opelika was 28,635. The Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA with a population of 150,933 which, along with the Columbus, Georgia metropolitan area and Macon County, Alabama, comprises the greater Greater Columbus, Georgia, a region home to 501,649 residents.
The first white settlers in the area now known as Opelika arrived in the late 1830s and established a community called Lebanon. After the removal of the native Creek (Muscogee) peoples by federal troops in 1836-37, the area became known as "Opelika." This word taken from the Muskogee language means "large swamp".
In 1848, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad Company extended a rail line from Montgomery, Alabama, to Opelika, and in 1851, completed a connection to West Point, Georgia, thus connecting Opelika with Atlanta, Georgia. This line was the only direct rail route between New Orleans and the Eastern Seaboard. It rapidly became one of the primary trade lines for shipments of raw cotton from Southern plantations to the North. The Montgomery and West Point was soon joined by a rail connection to Columbus, Georgia, in 1855, and a connection to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1869. Almost overnight, Opelika became a regional hub for commerce.
Select the Right Vocational School
Finding the right trade school near Opelika AL is a critical beginning toward a gratifying career in the vocation of your choice. As we have covered in this article, you should select a school and a certificate or degree program that are both accredited and have exceptional reputations within the profession. Other things to search for are sufficient practical training and state-of-the-art facilities. You need to check out each of the schools personally 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, ask about scheduling choices and if night or weekend classes are available if needed. And remember to inquire about financial aid and student loan options as well. If you ask the right questions as we have detailed in our guidelines for evaluating schools, you’ll be able to filter your options so that you can make an educated decision. With the right training, hard work and commitment, you can eventually become a licensed professional in your chosen trade.
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