When choosing an accounting school, prospective students should carefully consider several important factors such as the type of accounting jobs they would like to pursue in the working world, what level of degree they need in order to obtain those jobs, as well as a potential school’s cost, location, size, available financial aid, and resources such as job-placement services or internships.
Several major business magazines such as U.S. News & World Report, BusinessWeek, and Newsweek compile yearly rankings of business schools that offer accounting programs. While these rankings can act as guides in choosing a school, they should not replace careful research, enquiry, and consideration on your own part. Because the methodology used to tabulate these rankings can vary, these lists may not be ranking schools by criteria that are important to your particular situation such as cost and location.
Most employers prefer to hire graduates from accounting programs that have been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), a programmatic accreditation system that is the largest body of business school accreditation in the world. Other recognized organizations that accredit business education are the Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). There are also six regional school accreditation bodies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
On-line courses are becoming an increasingly popular option toward earning a college degree, but accounting students should make sure any on-line accounting school they consider is accredited from agencies such as DETC that are approved by CHEA or the United States Department of Education (USDE). The recognition of either of these two organizations assures that the accrediting agency has been recognized as a reliable authority on the quality of education their schools provide, in accordance with the Higher Education Act of 1965.
When choosing architecture schools, prospective students need to decide whether they want to work as licensed architects, or in careers that are related to architecture but do not require an architect license, such as construction jobs management, environmental law, real estate development, theater set design, or urban planning.
If you ultimately want to become a licensed architect, you should earn a professional degree from a five-year program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), since this is a requirement of most state architectural registration boards in the United States. If you are leaning toward architecture but are undecided about your eventual career direction, you can earn a pre-professional bachelor’s degree in architectural-related studies at a four-year school. If you later decide to become licensed as an architect, you can then enroll in a school that offers an accredited two-year Master of Architecture degree. Those with bachelor’s degrees in unrelated disciplines can enroll in an accredited three- or four-year Master of Architecture program.
You should also consider the specific area of architecture in which you wish to concentrate. If you know you want to specialize in a particular area of architecture such as interior architecture or “green” designing, you must determine which particular schools offer the specific focus in which you are interested. Also, many schools approach architecture from a definite artistic, design, historical, or technical point of view, while some are a broader-based combination of all. You should choose a school with an approach that coincides with your own.
Every year, the bi-monthly journal DesignIntelligence publishes a list of what it considers the best accredited schools of architecture in the nation. Students can compare this list with other school rankings that can be found in publications such as BusinessWeek and U.S. News & World Report. However, students should not rely exclusively on rankings when choosing architecture schools. A school can rank highly in these lists and still not necessarily be the best school for a particular student.
Aspiring architecture students can choose a school by combining rankings lists with a survey called “Guide to Architecture Schools” published annually by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), along with the independent reviews of architecture programs from the National Architectural Accrediting Board.
Art schools can range from independent, private institutions to separate departments within public universities or colleges. Some are more career-oriented schools which focus only on the technical skills required, while others (such as those that belong to the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design) combine studio work with a full curriculum of liberal arts and sciences. The kind of art school you choose depends on what you are looking for in your college experience and what career in the arts you wish to pursue.
Schools of art usually focus on one or more of the visual arts such as painting, illustration, sculpture, ceramics, photography, film-making, graphic design, fashion design, or interior design. If you know the area of the visual arts you want to focus on, find schools that specialize in or offer a strong department in that area. Research the background and experience of the faculty, and arrange to sit in on classes if possible so you can observe their teaching styles. Since many of the multimedia arts require specialized equipment, you will also need to check out the facilities of prospective schools to make sure they are equipped with the latest technology. Other factors to consider when choosing a school of art include size, location, financial aid, and resources.
Certain art schools also offer some of their curriculum on-line, especially those that specialize in multimedia arts that involve projects created by computer-based equipment such as Photoshop or Illustrator. Any hand-produced or other traditional materials that are required in an on-line course are usually photographed or scanned for review as needed.
Make sure any potential art school you are considering is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) and/or by one of the six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). This will ensure that the school meets an accepted standard of quality.
Beauty schools, also known as cosmetology schools, train students in the application of beauty treatments such as cosmetics, electrology, hair coloring, hair styling, skin care, manicures, and pedicures. After graduating from a beauty school and obtaining a cosmetologist license from your state, this training can lead to careers such as cosmetology instructors, fashion magazine writers or editors, hair stylists or hair color specialists, image consultants, makeup artists, photographic or film stylists, and salon or spa owners.
There are thousands of cosmetology schools in the United States, ranging from small, private institutions, to vocational schools, to large national cosmetology chains. Choosing the right one requires research and inquiry.
Any cosmetology school you investigate should be accredited by the National Accrediting Commission for Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (NACCAS) or the Council for Occupational Education (COE). Accreditation by one of these agencies ensures that the school meets national quality standards, that prospective employers in the industry are more likely to hire you, and that you will be eligible to receive federal student aid.
Although some schools specialize in one particular area of cosmetology such as hair cutting techniques or nail care, most students opt for a full general background in all areas in order to increase their job opportunities. If you are choosing the full program, make sure the potential school offers a comprehensive curriculum that includes hair cutting and coloring, makeup application, skin care, and nail care.
Ask potential cosmetology schools what a typical classroom experience is like, or arrange to sit in on classes if possible so you can observe for yourself. You will want to make sure that the teaching techniques also include visual aids, such as mannequins, in addition to lectures and textbooks. There should also be plenty of opportunity for hands-on training on mannequins or real people. Check whether the school offers salon-quality equipment such as drying stations, professional hair dryers and styling tools, and mannequins with natural hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows. Also make sure a potential beauty school offers training in several different coloring techniques and numerous brands of professional, high-end hair care products, not just one specific brand.
Other factors to consider in choosing a cosmetology school include the reputation of a particular school within the beauty industry, a convenient location, and job-placement assistance.
Whether you are considering enrolling in business school to advance your career or salary, to become a teacher, or simply to learn more about business, there are several factors to consider when evaluating which school is right for you.
Some of the most important issues to take into account when choosing a business program include the type of degrees offered, the curriculum, the schedules, the facilities, and the job-placement rate of graduates. If, for example, you hope to earn an MBA degree with a concentration in human resources, you will need to make sure a potential school offers that specialization. You will want to study the curriculum catalogs of various schools to see whether the courses offer a broad overview of business or focus on certain areas.
If you are attempting to fit school into a hectic schedule that may include work and family, you will also need to make sure a school offers programs that are flexible enough to accommodate you, such as part-time, accelerated, or on-line courses. You may want to pay on-site visits to various schools to see whether the classrooms, libraries, media equipment, housing facilities, class sizes, and teacher-to-student ratios meet your needs. You should also check with the career-placement offices of potential schools to see how many of the school’s business graduates were successful in finding employment in the types of jobs you would like to pursue.
Other matters to consider when choosing a business program include its reputation, its cost, and its accreditation.
The prestige and reputation of a particular school are often very important to business students, but that prestige often comes with a high price tag. University ranking lists can help you determine which schools are considered the best, but remember that good business programs can also be found at schools that may not rank highly on these lists. Calculate what you can afford to pay for a business school education, then apply for any financial aid you qualify for.
Finally, most employers prefer to hire graduates from business programs that have been accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Other authorized organizations that accredit business education are the Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), and the six regional school accreditation bodies recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The type of cooking school you enroll in depends on what you hope to do with your cooking skills. If you are simply interested in learning more about food, you can sign up at a technical or community college for short-term cooking classes that take from two days to two months. If, however, you are a more dedicated cook who wants to become a culinary professional, you can earn a certificate, degree, or diploma from an accredited school of cooking, also known as a culinary school.
Training at a culinary school can lead to careers as line cooks or chefs in restaurants, catering companies, hotels, resorts, and institutional facilities; food and beverage directors; food and beverage writers; food sales representatives; or restaurant managers.
When choosing a culinary school, you should first consider whether you want vocational-based instruction which focuses more on technical cooking skills, or whether you want a more general liberal arts-based education which also includes restaurant management and business classes. Then compare the curriculum of various schools to make sure they offer the degree you are interested in, and that the cuisine they specialize in matches your interests.
You should also decide whether or not you are willing to relocate. Many serious culinary students are willing to move from locations around the world and live in student housing in order to attend certain prestigious cooking schools. If, however, you are a returning student who is transitioning into cooking from another career, you may want to find a school closer to home with more flexible schedules that can accommodate your family and work life.
The cost of a culinary arts degree can vary greatly depending on the geographical area of the school, the length of the program, and whether you attend a public or a private institution. Many culinary schools include chef uniforms, professional cooking utensils, and books in their tuition fees. However, it is not uncommon to spend up to $40,000 for a two-year program, so it is important to calculate how much you are willing to pay for a culinary education and investigate the financial aid available at various schools.
Also check on the accreditation status of any cooking school you are considering. Accrediting agencies for culinary education include the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC) and the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT).
Criminal Justice Schools
Finding criminal justice schools should pose no problem to the aspiring law enforcement major, as there are over 6,800 programs available at more than 1,800 schools, according to the directory CriminalJusticeDegreeZone.com. Criminal justice degrees are available from certificate to master’s level and in many different specializations; therefore, before choosing a school, you should decide which degree suits your career path, and which of the many areas of law enforcement you would like to work in to help you narrow down the choice of schools.
Several publications, such as U.S. News & World Report and the Journal of Criminal Justice, compile ranking guides of what they consider the leading schools of criminal justice in the nation, which can also help you narrow down the choices. While these rankings can act as guides, you should also take your own circumstances into account, such as cost and location.
Many schools also offer some of their criminal justice curriculum on-line, which can be an excellent alternative for students who want to pursue a degree from an out-of-state school. On-line programs can offer flexibility, convenience, and 24-hour access. However, not all schools offer the same programs on-line as they do on campus, so you should make sure the particular courses you want are available on-line before enrolling. Also, some on-line criminal justice programs require short residencies or visits to campus in order to take part in any training that must be completed in person. You should check to see whether your particular on-line school requires residencies, and make sure your schedule allows you to take these trips.
In order to ensure that the degree you earn comes from a reputable school, in addition to being eligible to receive federal financial aid, you should also make sure any criminal justice schools you consider are accredited by a national or regional agency recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
The terms culinary schools and cooking schools are often used interchangeably. While they may both be similar in the technical cooking skills they teach, they are generally different in the length and intensity of their programs and the degrees they offer.
Cooking schools are basically smaller versions of culinary institutes. They offer specialized training in the technical skills required in cooking, and usually offer only certificate programs that may take from two months to two years to complete. Many cooking schools are also private, for-profit institutions.
“Culinary institutes,” however, is the term typically used for independent, non-profit institutions that offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in the culinary arts, which can take anywhere from two to four years to complete. The curriculum at culinary institutes usually combines technical cooking skills with business management and general liberal arts courses. Culinary institutes usually also offer more of the resources and extracurricular activities that are considered part of the typical college experience, such as sports, clubs, special events, trips, job-placement services, and externships at approved restaurants, hotels, or resorts.
A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for entry into culinary institutes. Admissions requirements can vary depending on the school, but many usually also require passing scores on a reading, writing, and math assessment test; personal interviews or essays; or recommendations. Some culinary schools may also require a certain amount of prior hands-on cooking experience before enrollment, to make sure that you are exposed to the reality of working in the foodservice industry and that you are serious about committing your time and money to the program.
Culinary institutes may enroll up to more than a thousand students, but class sizes are usually kept comparatively small, in order to ensure access to, and hands-on experience with, the cooking equipment. They usually offer morning, afternoon, and evening classes, and schedule students to the same group and the same timetable throughout the program.
The cost of culinary institutes can fluctuate significantly depending on the geographical area of the school and the length of the program. Chef uniforms, professional cooking utensils, and books are sometimes included in the tuition fees of many culinary institutes. However, it is not unusual to spend up to $40,000 for a two-year program, so it is important to decide how much you can afford to pay for a culinary education and inquire about the financial aid available at various schools.
If you are considering enrolling in a dance school to earn a professional degree in dance, you have probably already had years of dance training in private lessons or at local studios. Most women begin ballet training between the ages of five and eight with serious training starting between 10 and 12, while men usually start between 10 and 15 years of age.
Even if you haven’t had prior training, you will still get a chance to showcase your natural talent. Most schools of dance require a performance audition as part of the admissions process, along with a personal interview with the admissions committee.
When choosing a school of dance, consider the type of dancing you are interested in. Whether you wish to perform ballet, jazz, tap, or folk dancing, you will need to find a school that specializes in that genre or offers a strong program in it. In many colleges, the dance programs are considered part of either the performing arts or the physical education departments. If you are serious about performing dance as a career, you should choose a school of dance that is closely affiliated with the other performing arts such as theater and music, since they are usually more proficient in preparing you for this.
Some of the factors that will determine the location of the school you choose will include how far away from home you are willing to live and in what kind of environment. Some students are willing to move far away to totally unfamiliar surroundings in order to attend particularly renowned schools of dance, while others may prefer something closer to home.
Other considerations in choosing a dance school will involve whether you want to attend a large or small school; whether you want to attend a public or a private institution; what kind of financial aid is available to you; what kind of campus life or other extracurricular activities the college offers; and the opportunity for performing in student presentations, musicals, concerts, and perhaps outside performances.
Degrees in dance are available from the associate to the doctoral level. They can lead to careers as performers with national dance companies, opera companies, television or film music companies, and theater productions, or as artistic directors, choreographers, critics, dance instructors, dance notators (who document the movements of a dance on paper using various representational symbols), dance studio owners, dance therapists, or stage managers.
When choosing a dental school, many aspiring dentists consult media sources such as U.S. News & World Report and the Gourman Report, which publish rankings of the top ten schools of dentistry in the nation. Like all such lists, they should be used only as rough guides when it comes to making a final choice. Many of the schools on these lists have extremely competitive entrance standards because of their reputation. If you do not meet the requirements of a top-ten school, there are plenty of other good dental programs that can give you a comparable education.
After you have ascertained schools of dentistry that you qualify for, narrow down the choices based on location, the amount of financial aid available to you, and the programs offered. If you are interested in practicing in a particular field of dentistry such as pediatric dentistry or orthodontics, find a school of dentistry that offers that specialization. Also, check with the American Dental Association to make sure that any schools you are considering are accredited through the appropriate regional board.
Most dentists say it is important to visit potential schools of dentistry to assess the facilities, faculty, programs, and general atmosphere. Check to see whether the classrooms, labs, and facilities are up-to-date and well-equipped. Find out what the school’s clinical requirements are and where clinical practice will be held, either at an on-campus clinic or through rotation in outside clinics. Ask about the background and mix of the faculty, and what the teacher-to-student ratios are. Talking to students is also an excellent way to gauge the learning experience.
It typically takes four years of dental school to earn a Doctorate of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) or Doctorate of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree. Since earning a four-year bachelor’s degree in pre-medical or pre-dental studies is a prerequisite of entering a dental program, you will already have the necessary background in biology, chemistry, and physics. The first year of a dental program usually covers other disciplines used in the field such as biomaterials, oral anatomy, and oral biochemistry. The second year is used to focus on various specialties, while the remaining two years are spent in clinical practice.
Certain specialties such as endodontics, periodontics, and prosthodontics require an additional two to three years of training for certification, while orthodontists and oral and maxillofacial surgeons go through four to six more years of education.
Most states now require that drivers under the age of 18 must complete a driver education program. Most teenagers comply with this requirement by going through the driver education classes sponsored by their high school. However, students whose high schools do not provide this instruction, as well as drivers of all ages who are seeking to lower their driver’s insurance rates, often enroll in an independent driving school.
Many people consider cost and convenient location to be the most important factors when choosing a driving course, but experts caution against using these as the only criteria. They recommend that you compare several schools and make personal visits to them, rather than just calling. First, make sure any driving course you consider is licensed by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Also ask whether it is accredited, and what their accrediting agency’s acceptability is among insurance companies.
Next, check out the condition of the classrooms and cars. The classrooms should have driving simulators, and the cars should be well-maintained, preferably with adaptations such as a second steering wheel or passenger-side brakes for the instructor.
The curriculum of the school should be a mixture of classroom lectures using up-to-date course materials, simulator training, and real-life driving. Questions to ask about the curriculum include:
- How many hours of instruction are included in the course?
- What is the student-to-teacher ratio? (The American Automobile Association recommends 6:1, or 30 students for five instructors, as the ideal ratio in a driving school.)
- Have the teachers received professional instruction?
- What is the percentage of time spent on classroom instruction, simulations, and actual driving? (The amount of time driving should be at least equal to the time spent on other activities.
- Does the instruction include defensive driving and how to handle real-life driving situations, such as merging onto a highway or steering out of a skid?
- Does the driving course include a fixed or a free-style route? (A fixed route encourages the instructor to pay more attention to driving techniques and discourages abuses such as running personal errands.)
- Are contemporary driving topics such as cell phone usage, texting, and road rage addressed?
English is the one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world, with approximately 400 million native speakers and about 1.4 billion people speaking it as a second language, according to historical linguistic research site eHistLing. It is the official language of science, international business and commerce, and the Internet. Since the best way of learning a foreign language is to actually spend time in a country that speaks it and immerse yourself in the speech and culture, it is therefore not surprising that more than 500,000 students travel to the United States every year from countries all over the world to attend an English school.
The English program you choose will depend mainly on the type of English you are interested in learning. For example, if you wish to learn English for business reasons, to prepare yourself for English-language entrance exams, or to learn to teach English to others in your native country, there are programs available that are geared to all of these purposes. There are also English programs that can teach you the English you will need to practice a profession; academic English programs that prepare you to attend and study at English-speaking colleges or universities; and general English programs that will help you improve in all areas of the language including speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
The length of the program you enroll in will depend on the level of knowledge of the English language that you currently possess and the level you wish to acquire. Short-term programs typically last four weeks, while courses at colleges and universities usually last from 10 to 15 weeks per semester or quarter. Class sizes can vary depending on the school. Smaller groups of 8 to 12 students will give you the best prospect to practice the language with others. If you attend larger classes, for example from 16 to 20 people, make sure the instructor allows plenty of opportunities to practice in smaller groups.
Your accommodations can also have an important affect on how you learn English. You can choose to stay with a private family, in student housing on school campuses, or in independent apartments or hotels.
If possible, choose an English school that has been accredited by CEA (the Commission on English Language Accreditation) or ACCET (the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training).
If you are interested in working in the film industry, you do not necessarily have to attend a film school in Los Angeles or New York, the acknowledged movie capitals of the world. While enrolling in a school in these cities will undoubtedly bring you into contact with the industry culture and perhaps increase your chances of obtaining a film-related internship or job, be aware that movie-making schools can be found in many other states, if staying closer to home is important to you.
However, not all schools of film are regarded equally in the film industry. Make sure that the film school you attend is affiliated with a major college or university, or has been well-established for some time. Research the faculty to see whether they have worked in the film industry themselves or are connected to it in some way. Attending the same school of film that a famous director or producer graduated from can produce benefits in terms of reputation, equipment, and contacts, although it can also result in more expensive tuition.
Another important issue to take into account is the focus or specific area of concentration of the film schools you are considering. Some schools of film have a definite industry approach to their curriculum, in which students are taught the financial and business aspects of a career in film and how to sell their movie ideas to producers. Other schools focus on the technical or artistic skills involved in movie-making. Some schools of film require all students to write and produce an original movie as part of the graduation requirements, while in other schools the students have to compete or audition for the chance to produce a film.
If you are interested in a particular aspect of the film industry, such as directing, producing, or editing, seek out a film school that offers a strong emphasis in that area. If you want a more well-rounded education, most schools offer full curricula including animation, audio engineering, digital media production, directing, editing, screen-writing, set design, and television broadcasting. Most film schools also include courses on film theory and film history, as well as technical hands-on experience with cameras, lighting, and editing equipment.
Recommended preparatory courses for film school enrollment include advanced writing, drama, theater, and acting classes. Most schools of film also require a short, original sample movie, screenplay, or storyboard to demonstrate your production abilities.
Since attending law school is such a strenuous, expensive undertaking, it is in your interest to spend some time researching various law programs, and enroll in one that is right for you.
The location of the school of law you choose will depend on where you plan to practice law. Most schools prepare students for the bar exams in the state in which the school is located. Many states also maintain reciprocal agreements in which passing the bar in one state allows you to practice law in another.
Consider only schools of law in your chosen state that are approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Graduates from non-ABA accredited schools are not eligible to sit for the bar exams in most states. Although some states will allow graduates from non-ABA approved schools to take the bar exam after several years of practice in another jurisdiction, it is much less trouble to attend an ABA-approved school in the first place.
Apply mostly to schools of law where you know you have a chance of being accepted. Because of their reputation, law programs that rank highly on lists such as the ones published in U.S. News & World Report often have extremely rigorous entrance standards, usually based on previous grade point average and scores on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Top-ranked schools of law sometimes admit students with less-than-stellar grades based on other factors such as work experience or recommendations, so it doesn’t hurt to apply to at least one school that would be considered out of range for you, but primarily save time and effort by confining your law school search to the best schools that your grades qualify you for.
You should next compare the curricula of your list of preferred schools to make sure they offer courses in the area of law you wish to specialize in. You should also check to see what extracurricular activities are offered such as student law journals, moot court, mock trials, or law clinics.
Since a law degree is expensive no matter which institution you attend, you should also favor schools that offer generous financial aid packages including grants, scholarships, and work-study programs, or that take part in loan-forgiveness programs.
Finally, consider a school of law’s overall culture by researching its facilities, class sizes, faculty, and the diversity of the student body.
Obtaining an MBA degree is one of the most prevalent methods of increasing job mobility and salary. It can be overwhelming to consider the thousands of MBA schools that are now available all over the world in response to this practice.
Media sources such as U.S. News & World Report and BusinessWeek compile yearly lists of what they consider to be the best MBA programs in the nation, based on various factors. These MBA ranking lists can act as starting points in your search for the right school, but should not be your only consideration. Prestigious reputations often result in high tuition rates and competitive entrance requirements that not everyone can meet.
First, decide what you want from potential schools. Check to make sure a school offers the MBA specialization that you hope to earn, and that its curriculum includes core courses and electives that match your interests or are relevant to your chosen career path.
Next, consider the entrance requirements of potential schools. Compare your scores on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to the school’s published list of score ranges that they usually accept. If your scores don’t measure up to a particular school’s standards, you must consider an alternative school. Many MBA programs also require two to five years of prior work experience, and are usually unyielding about this condition.
You should also consider MBA schools based on how they will affect your lifestyle. Do you want to give up your job to attend school full time, or juggle work and school by studying on a part-time basis? If the latter, how far will you have to commute to attend the school? Does the school offer accelerated, evening, or on-line courses that can accommodate your schedule?
Although all MBA programs are expensive, some are more so than others due to location and reputation. Can you afford to pay any of the tuition yourself? If so, how much? Do you qualify for any financial aid to help you pay the remainder, and if so, how much? Are you willing to take out a loan to cover expenses? If so, can you afford the interest rate, and how long will it take you to pay it off?
Finally, check to make sure any MBA programs you are considering are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
Many doctors claim that getting accepted into medical school is the hardest part of becoming a doctor. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), only 45% of all medical student applicants were accepted from 2008 to 2010. Acceptance requires excellent undergraduate grades, high scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), and extracurricular activities such as research, volunteering, and clinical experience.
With prerequisites like these, aspiring doctors need to apply to as many medical colleges as they can in order to increase their chances of being accepted. Applicants are usually advised to compare their college GPAs and MCAT scores to the average scores of successful applicants at specific medical colleges, and then aim for the best of the schools that they qualify for. Many applicants select one or two schools that are considered “out of range,” several where they have a reasonable chance of being competitive, and one or two back-up alternatives.
Choosing the right medical colleges to comprise your list of potential targets usually involves four factors: academics, location, finances, and student life.
Academics: What type of academic focus are you interested in – research or primary care? How experienced are the faculty members, and what is their style of teaching? What is the grading system? Are three-year accelerated programs available? Where will clinical practice be held? How competitive is the atmosphere of the medical school? What kinds of research opportunities are available?
Location: Many applicants consider the location of their potential medical college to be more important than its academics, because it will affect all other aspects of their educational experience such as finances, clinical opportunities, patient demographics, climate, environment, campus life, and proximity to friends and family.
Finances: How much financial aid do you qualify for? How much loan debt are you willing to incur? Can you afford to live in the area where you will be studying? Since all medical programs will train you to become a doctor regardless of their reputation or ranking, it may be better to pass up the more expensive Ivy League or private medical colleges in favor of more affordable options.
Student Life: Are the facilities up-to-date and comfortable? What kinds of resources are available, such as gymnasiums, study locations, lounges, and counseling services? What kind of social life is available? Do the students seem happy? Can you see yourself living and studying at this medical school for four years?
The type of music school you decide to enroll in depends on how extensively you want to study music, and on your overall academic merits.
If you are a music virtuoso who has been undergoing private voice or instrumental training for years, but with average academic grades and low test scores, a music conservatory that focuses solely on the study of music will probably be most suitable for you. If, however, you are a good all-around student whose main interest is music, you will probably want to attend a college or university with a strong music department where you can major in music and also receive a well-rounded liberal arts education that can prepare you for an alternative career if necessary.
As with any college, music colleges should be investigated according to factors such as size, location, entrance requirements, and cost. Schools of music can range from small conservatories in tiny towns with several hundred students to large music departments in city colleges with thousands of students. Some schools specialize in traditional classical music, while others encourage study in eclectic, contemporary music styles.
Colleges and universities usually accept music students based on their grade point average and standardized admission test scores in addition to a performance audition, while conservatories place more emphasis on the student’s performance or innate talent. In fact, some of the top music conservatories in the country can be extremely selective, with average acceptance rates of only about 35%. As for cost, the leading music conservatories can charge an average of $50,000 per year, while some private colleges can cost even more. Public universities are generally much less expensive.
Another important consideration when choosing a music school is the private teacher you study with, who will be the most important influence on you and your musical progress for the next four years. You should not only research a teacher’s musical background and career, but also get personal recommendations from other musicians that specialize in the same type of instrument or area of music as you do.
Music degrees are available from associate to doctoral level, and can lead to careers in music business and management, composition, music education, film scoring, synthesis, music therapy, music production and engineering, and music writing. Other music-related jobs include instrument sales representatives, instrumental designers, builders and repairers, music store owners, and radio disc jockeys.
The process of finding good nursing schools is comparable to that of researching any college. Elements like school location and tuition, programs and clinical rotation opportunities, faculty accessibility, student-to-teacher ratios, facilities and student housing are all important to your educational experience and should be investigated. Personal visits to potential schools are also important, because talking to current students is often much more informative than brochures and Websites about what a particular school is really like.
Although most nursing programs are approved by their state board of nursing, you should also check whether your preferred schools are accredited through a national agency such as the National League of Nurse Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Although you may receive a comparable education at a non-accredited school and become eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), you may experience problems gaining acceptance into an accredited school in the future if you later decide to pursue further education.
Another useful piece of information to ask about in particular schools of nursing is the percentage of their students during the last 10 to 15 years who successfully passed the NCLEX exam. This is often a good gauge of how thoroughly nursing programs educate their students.
In order to help you pay for your nursing education, make sure you investigate the financial aid available at particular schools. Some schools may offer most of their financial aid in the form of loans, which must be paid back, instead of grants and scholarships, which are not paid back. Look instead for schools that take part in work-study programs (in which you are paid at least minimum wage for on- or off-campus jobs) and loan forgiveness or repayment programs (in which part of your educational debt is paid back or forgiven in exchange for certain nursing jobs). You may also qualify for “high-need profession” grants from your state government, or for scholarships from professional nursing organizations.
Finally, there are two sources that publish annual rankings of nursing schools: U.S. News & World Report and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While these rankings can act as guides in choosing a nursing program, they should not replace research and inquiry on your part into the conditions that are most important to you.
Pharmacists have progressed far from being simple providers of prescription drugs. Pharmacists now assist doctors not only by dispensing the appropriate medications, but also by helping patients understand their doctors’ instructions, monitoring patients’ health, counseling patients on proper drug use, and planning, supervising and evaluating drug regimens for physicians.
Because of the increased knowledge this role demands, all pharmacists in the United States must now earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree instead of the bachelor’s degree in pharmacy that was previously offered. This upgraded degree involves studying pre-pharmacy subjects such as anatomy, biology, calculus, chemistry, microbiology, psychology, and physics at colleges, universities, or technical colleges for at least two years (although most applicants go on to earn four-year bachelor’s degrees) before attending pharmacy schools.
Here, you will spend an additional four years studying subjects such as applied medication prescription, clinical pharmacy, drug therapy, medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and pharmacy administration, as well as participating in externships that give you hands-on experience. Many pharmacy programs require students to first pass the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) before admittance.
Because aspiring pharmacists must also become licensed from their state by passing tests such as the North American Pharmacist Licensure Exam (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Exam (MPJE), it is important that you attend pharmacy programs that have been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). Accreditation ensures the state licensing boards that your education has met the appropriate quality standards.
You should also research the qualifications and work experience of the faculty at potential pharmacy colleges. Advanced academic degrees in biology or chemistry, as well as related research, work are preferred.
Since pharmacists are expected to counsel and advise patients, you should also look for pharmacy programs that offer explicit courses on patient interaction. Specialized courses in subcategories of pharmacy such as biochemistry, homeopathy, and synthetic chemistry are also desirable in pharmacy schools. Programs such as these can give you knowledge that will help you advance into other positions in the pharmacy industry, as well as connect you with valuable associates in related fields.
Physical Therapy Schools
Physical therapists, like pharmacists, are healthcare professionals whose training now requires an advanced degree because of the increased demands of their role.
Physical therapists diagnose and treat people with limited physical mobility due to various illnesses or injuries. Because they must have a thorough knowledge of anatomy, biology, and chemistry, as well as consult with other healthcare professionals, physical therapists are now required to earn a Master of Physical Therapy (MPT) degree from accredited physical therapy schools in place of the bachelor’s degree that was previously offered.
As with most graduate programs, acceptance into physical therapy programs usually requires a bachelor’s degree, which can be in any discipline as long as you have fulfilled the prerequisites required by the particular school. Typical required courses might include anatomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, social science, and statistics. Some physical therapy programs will allow you to enroll while still in undergraduate school, while others require you to have completed your bachelor’s degree first. These are factors that should be taken into account when choosing the physical therapy school you will attend.
Most physical therapy programs also require satisfactory scores on a standardized admission test such as the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE), letters of recommendation from licensed physical therapists, and volunteer work in both physical therapy and general community service.
The curriculum of physical therapy programs usually includes classroom and laboratory work in anatomy, behavioral science, biology, biomechanics, chemistry, exercise physiology, imaging/radiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, and pathology. You will also take clinical courses such as diagnostic processes, examination tests, medical screening, outcomes assessment, and therapeutic interventions, as well as spend time doing supervised, hands-on clinical work.
Any physical therapy program you enroll in should be accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association’s accrediting agency, the Commission on Accreditation of Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). This accreditation will allow you to sit for the National Physical Therapy Examination, which is required by most states to become licensed.
The programs at most physical therapy schools take approximately two years to complete. Doctoral degrees in physical therapy, which are becoming increasingly preferred, will take an additional three years.
When researching psychology schools, you should first consider what type of degree you hope to earn, and what area of psychology you wish to specialize in.
A master’s degree in psychology is the minimum degree required to be a practicing psychologist. However, since many states do not allow holders of a master’s degree in psychology to set up their own private practices, it is becoming increasingly common for many psychology students to skip a master’s degree entirely and go directly from a bachelor’s program into a doctoral program. Three levels of doctoral psychology degrees are available – the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), and the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Psychology. The psychology program you ultimately choose will depend on whether it offers the degree you wish to earn.
Some psychology programs focus on particular areas of the field, and this will also guide your choice of school, along with your career goals. For example, some psychology programs offer master’s degrees in marriage and family therapy (MFT) or Psy.D. degrees for those who wish to be psychotherapists. If, however, you are more interested in research rather than counseling, you would probably seek out psychology colleges that offer Ph.D. programs. Once there, you could choose to specialize in such areas as experimental psychology or forensic psychology.
Since psychologists must meet certain educational requirements in order to become licensed by the state in which they practice, it is important that any psychology programs you investigate should be accredited by the appropriate regional licensing board or by a programmatic agency.
Organizations that accredit doctoral-level psychology programs include the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). For master’s programs in psychology, choose those that have been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE), the Master’s in Psychology Accreditation Council (MPAC), or the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
Your list of potential psychology schools will also depend on factors such as location and cost. Since graduate level grants are not as plentiful as those for undergraduates, you will need to decide how much loan debt you are willing to incur in order to finance your education.
Real Estate School
If you have decided on real estate as a career choice, the first step before even choosing a real estate school is to research your state’s individual licensing requirements.
Each state has its own conditions regarding issues such as how many hours of training must be completed, whether or not that training can be conducted on-line, and what tests must be passed before you can receive your license to become a practicing real estate agent or broker. You should also investigate the requirements for transferring a real estate license from one state to another, in case you wish to practice elsewhere in the future. This usually requires further training and testing.
Perhaps the best way to find a reputable real estate program is to ask the opinion of successful real estate agents practicing in your area. However, you should also make sure to confirm word-of-mouth referrals with your own inquiries:
- Is the school accredited by a national or regional agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education (USDE) or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)?
- How long has the school been established? Schools that have been around for many years are more likely to be particularly knowledgeable in the specific real estate laws of your state.
- Does the school produce its own core curriculum, or does it use outside or national real estate publications as the basis for its courses? A real estate school that writes its own curriculum is better able to keep up-to-date with the constantly-changing regulations of the industry.
- Are the teachers active real estate professionals? If not, have they at least been practicing real estate agents in the past? How long have they been with the school?
- Has your potential school received any national industry awards such as the Pinnacle Award? Has it been recognized by local community organizations as well as its colleagues in the real estate industry?
- How far will you have to commute to attend the school? Are on-line classes available and allowed by your state?
- What is the total cost, including tuition, course materials, housing, and living expenses? How do most of the students finance their education? Be wary of real estate schools that offer extremely low prices, since they may only be interested in signing up as many students as possible rather than concentrating on education.
Veterinarians use their medical skills to diagnose and treat animals ranging from domestic pets, to farm animals, to wildlife. Their training is similar to that of a traditional physician, which usually means completing required undergraduate studies, earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) degree through an additional four years of medical training at a veterinary school, and obtaining a license from the state in which they wish to practice.
Although most veterinary colleges prefer applicants to have earned a bachelor’s degree before enrolling, it is not a requirement at all of them as long as you have completed a certain number of undergraduate credit hours in pre-veterinary courses such as biology, organic chemistry, physiology, and zoology, as well as in general subjects such as English and math. Check with your preferred school to see what specific prerequisite courses are required. Although some schools will grant entrance if you have one or two prerequisite classes pending, it is best to allow sufficient time to complete all of your required courses before applying.
Most veterinary colleges also require satisfactory scores on a standardized admission test such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), or Veterinary College Admission Test (VCAT); letters of recommendation from licensed veterinarians and faculty members; and prior experience with animals.
Most veterinary programs participate in the Veterinary Medical College Application Service (VMCAS), in which one on-line application is submitted, and then sent to all of the participatory schools you wish to apply to. This can greatly streamline the admissions process, although some schools may require supplementary applications or direct submission of transcripts.
Any veterinary college you choose should be accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association. It should also have courses in the area of veterinary science in which you are interested in specializing, plenty of opportunity for hands-on practice in clinical courses, and career counseling and job-placement services. Faculty should be licensed and experienced in their particular field.
After earning your DVM from a veterinary school, you may serve a three- to four-year residency program to become board certified in a specialized area, such as dentistry, laboratory animal medicine, internal medicine, nutrition, oncology, radiology, or surgery. In order to begin practicing, you must then pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE), and sometimes a state jurisprudence exam as well.
Last Updated: 02/23/2013