Choosing A School

Introduction

The pursuit of education requires a significant investment of time and money; and you expect that education to pay off in employment, career enhancement, and/or a career change. As a consumer, you want to investigate thoroughly the options available before making a decision. The information provided below and elsewhere on this website can help you in that decision-making process.

The School

How can you make sure the school you select will not fail you? Consider the following about a school:

  • Call the human resource department of the businesses in the field you would like to enter. Ask what education/training and credentials they look for in prospective employees. Find out if openings in the field are plentiful and what schools best prepare their employees.

  • Call the school and ask for its graduation rates. Also ask for the percentages of students who pass their licensing exams and/or get placed in jobs.

  • Request the names and phone numbers of recent graduates. Ask them: Did you find the training useful? Did you find work? A school that cannot put you in touch with satisfied customers is one you may want to avoid.

  • If the school is accredited (see explanation below), write or call the accrediting agency and ask for the results of the school's latest review.

  • Contact an employment or career counselor and ask about schools in the field that you want to pursue.

  • Call the Educational Approval Board (EAB) at (608) 266-1996 and speak with a school administration consultant about the school's compliance history, any complaints that may have been filed by students, or the findings from recent visits to the school.

The Program

Once you have identified potential schools, you will want to request school catalogs and/or access that information on-line. This information will define the workings of the school and outline the courses of instruction offered. As you learn about the schools and their programs, ask yourself the following:

  • Will the course of instruction qualify me for employment in my chosen field?

  • Am I capable of and sufficiently interested in pursuing and completing the total program?

  • Is this school the best source of training in the field and are there other public, private, or vocational options?

  • Do I really need to complete this program to be employed in this field and are my prospects of getting a job good if I complete the program?

  • Is the cost of the course of instruction reasonable for the amount of training provided?

  • Am I financially able to pay for the program?

Finding a School and Program

The EAB has several ways to help you find schools and programs approved by the EAB. You can download a Directory of Approved Schools and Programs or conduct a search by program name, school name or city.

Enrollment Agreement and School Representatives

Some EAB schools require students to sign an "enrollment agreement." This document is a binding, legal contract between the student and the school. These schools usually have representatives whose job is to enroll students into the schools' programs. Do not be in any hurry to sign an agreement. If you are not completely satisfied, delay making a decision. If the proposition is legitimate, it will be as good next week as it is today. Before you sign anything, ask yourself the following questions:

  • If an enrollment agreement is executed in any location other than the school itself, does the school representative have a permit issued by the EAB?

  • Is the representative able to give evidence supporting any claims made about job opportunities, placement rates, and salaries or wages to be earned?

  • Is the representative giving you time to think about your options or is she/he pressuring you to sign quickly?

  • Have you read the enrollment agreement carefully, including the fine print, asked questions about points not understood, and taken time to reflect on the obligations listed on the contract?

  • Does the enrollment agreement clearly state the cost of the program, method of payment, provisions for cancellation, and the school's refund policy?

  • Before signing, have you thoroughly investigated the school and its course of instruction?

  • If you still have questions, call the EAB at (608) 266-1996.

Accreditation and EAB Approval

The term "accreditation" is often misunderstood or incorrectly used synonymously with "EAB approval." Most private postsecondary schools serving Wisconsin students, whether they are located within or outside the state, are required by state law to obtain the EAB's approval prior to advertising or providing training. Accreditation, on the other hand, is a non-governmental, voluntary peer-review process. In addition to satisfying the state's legal requirements, EAB approval gives credibility to a school, regardless of whether or not it is accredited. For more detailed information regarding accreditation, visit the EAB accreditation page.

Degree and Diploma Mills

In their quest for higher education and training, students and the public sometimes encounter "degree and diploma mills" — providers of educational offerings or operations that offer certificates and degrees that are considered bogus. Although there is no single definition of a "degree mill" or "diploma mill" in higher education, in general, a degree or diploma mill would not pass the approval process required by the EAB. If you are concerned that a "school" may be a degree or diploma mill, contact the EAB. For more detailed information and several useful links, visit the EAB Degree and Diploma Mill page.

Additional Resource to Help You Choose

There a many resources available to help individuals find the right school. A few include:

  • College.gov was built by the U.S. Department of Education in collaboration with students as the go-to source for information and resources about planning, preparing and paying for postsecondary education.

  • The College Board is a not-for-profit association of more than 5,400 schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity.

  • Opportunity.gov is a federal website that provides information on the educational opportunities for unemployed workers.

  • Know How to Go is an effort sponsored by the American Council on Education, the Lumina Foundation for Education and the Ad Council that encourages 8th through 10th graders to prepare for college using four simple steps.

Summary

Choosing a school is an important decision; and becoming an informed and knowledgeable consumer will help you with the decision process. The EAB can also help you through this process. Our staff periodically visits the schools and can help answer questions you may have about the best possible fit to your educational needs. Please contact one of our school administration consultants if you have questions. It is our job to protect and assist you.