Choosing the Best Secondary Education Program for You
By Rachel Seitz
In supporting Climb Credit’s mission to expand access to quality education, we work hard to “identify schools that consistently improve their graduates' earning potential and justify the cost of their tuition.” Yet even within our own partner schools (let alone schools with whom we don’t partner), students find themselves faced with many options for which school they want to attend. Millions of people each year enroll in myriad universities, colleges, trade schools, and coding bootcamps, and if you find yourself about to join those numbers, you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing a school that’s the right fit for you. Based on our work with many of these schools, we’ve created the below list containing ideas on how to make sure you end up doing just that!
One major factor you’ll want to make sure you consider is the cost of your school. While it may be in your best interest to pay more money for the right program, you might also be better served to opt for the less expensive program; you may even consider any part-time options, if program cost and scheduling are your top concerns. Additionally, you’ll also want to look into financial aid options such as scholarships and loans to help ease the burden of any cost; make sure to check school websites for what they offer!
Where you are (and where you’d like to go) could also have an impact on your decision. Should you travel to the other side of the country or attend a program 30 minutes from your home? Is the cost, program quality, and proximity to potential employers worth the extra miles? Before choosing a campus, you might be well served to take into account where you want to end up and any factors which might make you want to stay in your current location.
Learning from the right instructor can have a huge impact on a student’s success, so we suggest learning all you can about who will be teaching your potential courses. See if they have any work published online, look at their social media, and check out what past students have said about them. In his piece “Things you didn’t know about coding boot camps,” Cahlan Sharp suggests doing research not only on the instructors but also on the founders: “Find out their backgrounds via LinkedIn, and discover why they started the schools to ensure you’re being taught by real industry experts.”
An incredibly helpful method of finding out if a program and its instructors are right for you is reading online reviews. Course reviews are always useful when deciding where to go to school; Course Report and Switchup offer countless reviews and ratings of bootcamp programs specifically, but you can also visit sites like Yelp and Quora for information or reviews of schools. Course Report also contains plenty of informative guides, like their Ultimate Guide to Security Bootcamps; studies, such as the 2016 Course Report Alumni Outcomes & Demographics Study; and even student profiles, so you can see for yourself what some alumni have done after graduating. This is a great way to easily compare information and read more about the courses and people teaching them.
Of course, if you’re able, you’ll also definitely want to visit the campus in person before committing. Both employees and students emphasize the importance of seeing the classrooms and meeting the staff face-to-face before you sign on. Attend events and open houses being held by the school, or just visit on your own to take a look at where you’ll be learning. This way, you can gain personal insight you might otherwise miss online and from secondhand information.
Finally, make sure the program you’re taking is in line with the career you want. Otherwise, you may be halfway through a program before realizing the subject you’re learning isn’t actually your cup of tea or is less useful than another for your career goal. Some schools offer free crash courses to try, and there are plenty of other online tutorials to take for free in preparation for a paid program or when deciding which direction you want to take. Know what your objectives are and what the proper trajectory is to help you reach it.
There are many factors to consider when applying to different programs, and each one may weight differently for each individual student. Before committing, know what your priorities are and do enough research to make an informed final decision. Best of luck, and enjoy your future course!