Ask the Right Questions to Find the Right Program
Programs designed for working professionals buck the trends of the traditional ivy-walled university. Therefore, in order to find the right program, you need to ask a new set of questions:
Many universities offer courses at locations other than the main campus. These satellite facilities provide convenience to the working professional, but may lack the resources available at the main campus. Questions to ask the school regarding off-site locations include:
- What type of computer facilities are available, and what are the hours?
- What are the resource/library facilities like?
- If there is no library, is the off-site facility hooked to a main campus library through computer?
- How often will I have to go to the main campus?
- Do the professors have offices at the off-site locations?
- What types of administrative functions are available at the off-site locations?
- Will all the courses be offered at this location, or will I have to go to other locations to complete the program?
Most universities offering programs for the working professional will utilize a combination of full-time and part-time faculty. There are some questions you will want to ask to make sure that the school is consistent in the quality of instruction.
- What is the % of full-time faculty teaching in the program to adjunct faculty (those paid on a part-time basis)? If this % seems high, ask how adjunct faculty fit within the mission of the school.
- Ask to see current resumes of all faculty, both full and part-time to determine if their backgrounds and teaching experience meet your expectations.
- How are adjunct faculty chosen and trained? Is there a mentoring program?
- How does the school assess teaching effectiveness? Through student evaluations?
It is important to ask for a student profile from the school to determine what industries are represented in the classroom, and the level of experience of the students. If one industry is highly represented in the classroom, this may hinder the experience that comes from different ways of thinking.
- What does the student composition look like? (Ask to see any research that has been done to determine the breakdown of industries in the classroom)
- What are the admission requirements? Are there minimum standards for acceptance into the program?
- What % of applicants are accepted
- What % of students are accepted on a provisional basis?
- What is the undergraduate Grade Point Average of the student body?
- What are the average test scores of accepted students?
- What special services do you provide to working professionals?
- Do faculty have office hours during the evening when I'm off work?
- Are the library and computer facilities open in the evenings and weekends?
- How is registration for classes conducted each term?
- Ask for information concerning graduates and their placement, as well as placement services available to working professionals.
- What other alumni services are available to the working professional?
The most important question to ask the schools you are considering may be, "What is the mission of your school, and how does this fit with the fully employed professional?" If the school can provide you with the answer you are seeking, then the other questions can simply be focused towards determining how well the school is employing the resources to meet the mission they've set.