How to Evaluate Trades and Apprenticeship School

Choosing a trade school or program can be a difficult and time-consuming choice. At first you will need to make many decisions, such as what areas of specialization interest you and the importance of cost, location and other similar factors. Once you have decided on these, you will still need to undertake a significant exploration and consultation to focus your interests and choice of a trade school.

Here is a step-by-step process to help you evaluate each school or program:

  • Visit the school's website. Most trade and apprenticeship schools provide detailed information about their programs - i.e., which programs are offered, amount of tuition and fees, admission requirements and intake times, student demographics, faculty qualifications, industry experience and accomplishments, and more! Often the institution's website will provide a "Q&A" or FAQ page which will answer the most common questions about it and its programs.

  • Visit the school. On-site visits allow you to learn things about the school that might not be obvious from its marketing materials, such as facilities, equipment, transportation and how it feels to be there. Even if the school nearest you is not the one you are considering, an information-gathering visit can help you get a sense of what you are comparing your other choices to.

  • Speak with an admissions counselor or program head at the school if possible: they have a thorough knowledge of the curriculum and study programs that can lend a perspective to your decisions, and sometimes lead you in new directions.

  • Research other sources of information. There is a wealth of things that you can do here:

    • If you know past graduates of the school, talk with them about their experiences while a student. Since perhaps the most difficult admission requirement is finding a job with an employer who is a journeyman or who employs a journeyman in the trade of the applicant's choice, find out where past graduates got started.

    • Confirm which employers have recruited graduates in the past and talk with their human resources departments to determine their satisfaction with the school's graduates and programs, whether they continue to recruit from the school, and whether they value it over others on a regular basis.

    • Search the Internet for information on awards and achievements bestowed on specific trade schools or programs - competitions won, instructor honours, etc.

    • Consult Facebook and other social networking sites that may provide testimonials and other student comments on specific trade and apprenticeship schools and programs.

    Then match these facts and figures against the trade and apprenticeship schools and programs you are evaluating.

    Check out CampusStarter's database of Canadian Trades and Apprenticeship Schools and Programs