Investing your time and your future into getting a doctorate is a big decision, and it is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Choosing the right college for your doctorate can impact the enjoyment you get out of your program, and it can also affect the results you achieve. Rushing to make a choice or selection is not going to be beneficial for you or your career. So, before going for the first college, take some time out to establish just which colleges work for you and which ones do not. Taking this important step will ensure that you give yourself the time and the space to think about what you want and need. To help you tick off this step in preparing for your college future, keep reading.
Your Motivation – What Is Pushing You?
Before embarking on even finding a program or college, you have to establish just what is pushing you to get your doctorate. For example, do you want to get it from a college with a long history within your family, or are you looking to enhance your career options and choices? When you can establish what your motivation is and where it lies, then you will find the selection process a whole lot easier. If you do not set aside some time to establish where your motivation stems from (and where it is taking you), then you will struggle to set on the right college for you.
Career is Key to Your Decision
If you know what direction you want your career to go in, then it may help you choose the best college. Sometimes, when you know what career path you want to follow, selection and narrowing down choices becomes so much easier and clearer. You know what you are looking for, and you know what type of program has to be on offer because you know what you need for your future career. As the career you choose can have an impact on the college you choose, it may be beneficial to spend just a few minutes of your day to visualize how you want a doctorate to help you and where you want your studies to take you. Even if you are uncertain as to what specific career route you want to follow, it always helps to get a rough idea. Even with a rough idea, you have a new starting point, and this is better than nothing at all.
Reviews and Recommendations are Important
Of course, not all reviews and recommendations are as wholesome and as honest as they claim to be – however, that does not mean that they are all bad and that they cannot all be trusted. There are plenty of reviews that have been left from previous (and current students), and often you will find these give an honest account of what the college is like and what it has to offer. When you take some time out to look at reviews and recommendations, you get the chance to see what a college looks like. Getting real insights is crucial for your decision, and, as such, this step should not be missed or even overlooked. When you are looking at both recommendations and reviews, you need to think about what you are specifically looking for. Sometimes you can end up wasting your time and energy reading about a faculty or program that does not influence what you want to pursue. For example, they may have an excellent campus, but you won’t ever find yourself spending time there. Staying focused on what you want to get from both recommendations and reviews will ensure that you only get the facts and information that you need to make the best selection.
Finding a Tailored Program
Not all programs are right for you, and not all programs will be beneficial to your career or your future. When you choose the best college, you also need to make sure that you are choosing the best program too. You want to ensure that you get as much out of your doctorate as possible, and to do this, you need to carefully look at what the program has to offer you. If the program does not have the structure that you want, or if it does not cover the topics that you want it to, then you need to find one that is better suited. There are tailored programs out there that fit your needs and requirements, and sometimes you just have to search a little harder for them. Writing down your hopes and necessities for a program will help you trim down your selection, and it will ensure that you do not end up expelling any unnecessary time and energy pursuing programs that are less than perfect for you.
When it comes to finding tailored programs (or programs that can be structured around what you want to do), it is important to establish what questions you want to ask and what questions you need to ask. Often something can look too good to be true, and this can be applicable with colleges and programs too.
Home, Away, or Online – Which Study Option is Right For You?
As you are looking at colleges, have you thought about where you want to study and why? For example, are you looking at studying a program online with an online college? Or, are you perhaps looking to find a college that is conveniently close to your home or place of work. If you are busy with other commitments, or if you want to fit in studying for a doctorate without actually having to leave the house, then you will need to investigate online learning and studying. Finding and choosing an online Doctorate in Education program could enable you to study around your commitments while gaining the doctorate you need to push your life forwards. When you embrace online learning, you save time, and you save energy too. Gone are the long commutes to campus, and gone are the awkward class times. Learning and studying online gives you a greater deal of flexibility, and you need a bit of flexibility when you are studying for a doctorate.
An Engaging Program
Let’s face it; you learn more when you are enjoying yourself and when you are engaged. So, with this in mind, it is important that you choose and find a program that you find engaging. No two programs on offer by a college are created equally, and of course, this is something you need to keep in mind. The content that a program contains and features has to get you hooked, and it has to keep you engaged. If you are not finding the content engaging, then you are not learning, and you will most likely not be retaining as much information or knowledge as you should be doing. When it comes to finding an engaging program, think about what you want to study and learn, and also think about how you want to learn and from who. Sometimes how content is delivered is a lot more important than the content itself, so keep an open mind when seeking out an engaging program.
Chances of Admission and Entry Requirements
Not all colleges that you look at are going to offer the same entry requirements. Therefore, not all colleges are going to admit you to their program. These are two important things that you must remember in your search for the best college. Weighing up the chances of admission against the entry requirements will ensure that you know what is expected of you (as a minimum). If you do not find out what the expectations are and you fail to achieve the minimum, then you may be disheartened, and, of course, this is not conducive for a positive learning environment. When you can establish what admission rates are alongside entry requirements, then you can begin to see where potential gaps and opportunities may exist.
Student and Learner Support
Whether you attend a physical campus or you attend a virtual platform, you never want to feel like you are on your own. Student support is essential as you navigate your way to receiving your Doctorate. There may be times when you need some further guidance, or there may be times when you simply need a listening ear. Having that support service in place and on offer from a college can help you to make the right decision. Being able to reach out to others is important, so do not hesitate to find out what provisions are in place for communicating with students and assisting them (when needed).
On paper, how successful are the colleges that you are looking at, and more specifically, how successfully are the faculties or departments within which you are targeting your attention? If success rates have dipped this last year, then try and establish why figures have changed so much. For example, have they had a high turnover of teachers or lecturers, or is this the first time they are offering the faculty or subject area? Seeing success figures written down can help you to make a choice. It is easier to weigh up your options if you have results clearly laid out in front of you.
Is the College Invested and Passionate
When you are looking at a college’s success rates and figures, it is important that you look at their passion and enthusiasm. If enthusiasm and passion are present, then do the success figures and statistics match up with what you are seeing and hearing? Does the college genuinely care about students and results? A college that is invested heavily in its students will be one that is arranging student support and helping students focus on their future choices too.
The Colleges Vision
What exactly does the college want to achieve, and what vision or mission statement does it have. When you look at the college’s vision statement, you can then see if your visions and values align with theirs. If you are struggling to share the same values and visions, then this may affect your mindset and your approach to learning and growth. Where do students sit and come within the college’s vision? Is student learning always the college’s top priority, and are they always looking for more advanced ways to improve their offering?
Fees and Affordability
Getting your doctorate will cost you money, but this spending will be a worthwhile investment for your future. When talking about fees and affordability, it is often better to discuss fees and fee structure early on in your search. When you see what fees are payable, by when (and, of course, what you are getting for these fees), then you can truly make an informed decision. If a college feels that it can be unaffordable, or if perhaps you think that you are not getting good value for money, then it may be time to move on with your search.
Accreditation and Reputation
When you are looking at the best colleges, it is important to think about reputation and accreditation. Some colleges are leaders that have a strong and powerful reputation, while others are just sitting in the middle. How important is the reputation to you and to your program/studies? As well as thinking about the importance of reputation, you also need to focus on accreditation and status. What educational and learning bodies is the college listed with, and which ones is it approved by? Positive links and accreditations can help to strengthen the value and worth of the program you choose to pursue.
You have the success figures to hand, but have you actually stopped to see where the college ranks? Seeing how a college fits in with others and seeing its areas of strength firsthand will allow you to really trim down your list. When it comes to looking at rankings and even analyzing them, you need to look at local county rankings as well as state rankings. Do you want a college to be in the top 20 across the country, or would you settle for your college to be in the top 25? Ask yourself this and come up with an answer to help in your decision making process.