When you’re selecting a college, there are many considerations. We’ve written about ways to decide if you should go back to college or not, and we’ve outlined some of the overarching questions to ask before you choose a college or university. If you’ve made the decision to go back to college, and you’ve narrowed your search down to a handful of schools that meet your needs, you’ve most likely come to the most difficult part of the process. How do you choose between schools that offer similar program styles, similar experiences, and similar degrees? One important factor is the instructors that will teach and guide you through your college experience.
It’s not easy to become a college professor or instructor and those who do teach rightfully earned their positions. However, your expectations should be high when considering your future teachers. Here are a few key factors to keep in mind:
Educational Background: Most higher education instructors have a degree themselves, and many have a post-secondary degree such as a Master’s or a Doctorate. These are all important things to look for, but also pay attention to how your instructors’ degree can help you with your education. Does it directly relate to what he/she is teaching? Can you learn things from you instructors’ educational experience that might not be directly related to your degree program? How is one instructors’ education different from another, and how might that have an impact in the classroom? These are important questions to ask and important considerations that can effect your experience.
Real-World Experience: Some people will tell you that your instructor’s real-world work experience is even more important than their educational background. Do they know what its like to work in the field you are interested in? Do they have any first-hand experience to help you learn about what to expect and what things are most important to be successful in your career? Real-world experience can be crucial to your instructor’s understanding of the ins and outs of the degree you’re working to obtain, and extremely important to how quickly you’re able to comprehend what will be expected of you once you graduate.
Passion for the Subject: Passion can’t be measured by a certificate on a wall, or by reviewing a resume. This is something you’ll have to gauge on your own. The good news is, it should be fairly easy to see. Does he/she seem engaged when you talk to them about your career? Do they get excited when they talk about what you’ll be learning and the career you’re preparing yourself for? Do they keep up on industry news and share it with students? Are they generally enthusiastic about their own job? Pay attention to these things as well. You’ll know and appreciate it when you see it.
People Skills: Finally, when you have the chance to meet your potential instructors, pay attention to how they interact with you. Just like choosing a college that fits your lifestyle and appeals to how you learn, instructors are no different. That’s not to say you’re going to like or be friends with all of your instructors. But things like how they listen to you, and if they are able to relate to your own personal situation, can be important factors in your college experience.
There are many variables when considering college selection. Once your choices are narrowed down, it can make a big difference to take an intelligent look at the people who will instruct you. Finding ways to set yourself up for success is a big part of choosing the right college for you.