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Educational Consumer Tips

Trade/Vocational Schools

Author: Better Business Bureau

If you are considering taking a course of instruction to prepare for a job in a particular field, you should first determine from those actually working in the field what kind of training is required and what the prospects of employment are. You should also check occupational outlook books, which are available in libraries. Find out if the school will help you find employment through its placement service. If so, determine the percentage of students the school has successfully placed in jobs. Remember that vocational schools cannot guarantee employment for their graduates.

Besides being properly licensed, the school should be accredited by an accrediting agency as this ensures that it maintains certain established standards. A list of all nationally recognized accrediting agencies is published annually by the US Department of Education. If you are interested in home study courses, the National Home Study Council at 1601 18th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20009 maintains a directory of accredited home study schools. Learn what the school's graduation rate is, understanding that a high dropout rate usually indicates poor quality or poor administrative standards. Talk with others who are familiar with the school, such as current and former students and potential employers, and try to visit to see the school's facilities. Finally, you should clearly understand all the terms of the enrollment agreement, including any financial arrangements, such as government loans that will need to be paid back, before signing a contract. Make sure any oral promises are confirmed in writing.

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