There are many types of schools to consider when seeking an education in order to pursue marketing careers. Full-fledged universities, community colleges, smaller colleges and online schools are all possibilities. Some “distance learning” schools offer all of their coursework off-campus through online classes. The quality of education and even the quality of specific classes may vary significantly from one school to the next. Various types of schools also have advantages and disadvantages.
Technical and vocational schools typically only offer degrees up to the associate’s degree. If the school has been accredited, some of the credits earned will transfer to colleges or universities. This means that a person will receive credit toward a degree at a new school for courses taken at another school or college. If the school is not accredited, the credits will have to be taken over again at the next school, wasting both time and money.
Colleges are generally smaller than universities and most often offer a general degree like liberal arts, or business. Any college selected also should be accredited. Colleges only offer associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. Universities may be either state-funded or private schools. Universities are usually composed of several colleges such as the college of engineering, the college of business, and the college of humanities. Students may find universities that offer all four degrees, associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorates.
Choosing a School
Each individual should consider his or her own needs when evaluating schools. First determine what type of degree is needed and how much time you will be able to devote to studying. For example, will you need to work either full-time or part-time? This could be a key factor in determining if you will need to attend a university that schedules a lot of classes for evenings or weekends. Find out the total cost of the education: not only for tuition, but for books and things like living expenses, parking, or transportation. What financial aid programs does the school offer and what criteria do you have to meet to qualify? Are you able to perhaps live at home with your parents or share housing with friends? If you want to attend a school in another state, find out if you can establish residency first and get a lower tuition.
Whenever possible visit each campus you are considering to get a feel for the school environment. Ask friends and family members to tell you about people they know who may have experience with schools you are interested in. Ask a guidance counselor for recommendations if you are still in high school. Find out the teacher/student ratio by contacting the school. A lot of this information may be found on the web site for the school. Check your scores on the SAT and ACT to see if you meet the scores that the school you want to attend usually requires for admittance.
Look through the coursework offered to be sure that the courses you are interested in taking are available. Look for any student ratings posted on the internet for courses you are interested in so you can get a feel for their satisfaction with the courses. If you want to use distance learning, try to find several people who have taken one or more online courses and ask their opinions. Search the internet for reviews to see if the courses have been well taught.
One source to use to find schools with excellent programs in marketing that will help prepare students for marketing careers is the U.S. News & World Report ranking of top business schools that is available both in print and online.
For example in the 2011 ranking, the top 10 schools are
- Northwestern University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Duke University
- Stanford University
- Harvard University
- Columbia University
- University of Chicago (Booth)
- University of California–Berkley (Hass)
- University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (Ross)
- New York University (Stern)
The ranking includes information like the tuition, enrollment, average GMAT score, acceptance rate, and other data on each listed school. Tuition at these large schools runs from about $40,000 to $53,000 per year.
Although this cost per year seems formidable, contact any school that you are interested in attending to see what types of scholarships and other financial aid may be available and what would qualify you for financial aid. If you are working, check with your employer’s human resources department to see if your employer may reimburse costs for coursework in your field. Larger employers will often reimburse tuition and course books for those who take courses that may enhance their job performance and add value to the company.
Applying to School
For many schools much of the application process may now be done online, including paying the fee with a credit card. For example, the state of Texas has a single website (www.applytexas.org) that allows each person to apply to one or more schools in the state. Some application sites may also provide an option to print the forms and submit written forms.
Review the application first and gather the information you will need to complete the forms. For example, gather the beginning and ending dates of any high school or college attendance, as well as your employment history or that of your parents. Some questions may seem self-evident, but make sure you read the forms carefully and answer the questions accurately and completely. Most applications to colleges or universities require the completion of an essay. Read the question carefully to make sure that you are actually writing on the topic. Research the school before answering questions like why you want to attend this particular school so that you may answer intelligently. This is not an appropriate place to use slang, common abbreviations, or the shorthand often used in texting or email, so check you spelling and grammar.
Review each part of the application for completeness before submitting it. If you are applying online and have an opportunity to save the application and return to it before submitting, save it and then look at it the next day to catch any errors you may not have noticed. You are marketing yourself, so remember this and try to look at the application as if the school were a “buyer.” This is a good time to focus on the types of things that are important in marketing careers.
Marketing School Accreditation
As you seek an education to pursue marketing careers it is important to establish an important fact before you select a school and apply to it. Is the school accredited by a recognized accrediting agency? An accredited school is one where an agency that establishes standards for a quality education has reviewed the curriculum, instruction, and other programs and agrees that it provides an appropriate level of education.
Some accreditation may on occasion mean very little. It is important to understand this. Some organizations provide accreditation for schools that are often known as “diploma mills”—schools that provide diplomas without giving students an education. The United States Department of Education (USDE) recognizes approved accrediting organizations. A list of these approved accrediting organizations may be found at their site. When considering online coursework, make sure to review the accreditation the school claims to be sure it is recognized by the USDE.
This recognition by the USDE is a key element for those who need to receive financial aid in order to attend a school or college. Federal programs will not provide financial aid for attendance at nonaccredited schools. The voluntary self-regulatory organization, Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), reviews and recognizes accreditation organizations that meet the appropriate quality standards. These standards include not only the quality of education, but administration, fiscal, admissions, and recruitment. CHEA has a database that allows searchers to find out if an accreditation organization is recognized as reliable.