So, you are faced with the task of choosing the best courses either for yourself or your employees. Note that this is not such an easy task given that the market of vocational education services offers quite a few options. Not to get lost in the diversity and to get the maximum return on investment in education, you must keep up with the competitors (or better get ahead of them), take into account a number of characteristics, and most importantly – you need to clearly understand what your goal is and whether a certain course will help you to reach it.
In this article, you will find useful practical tips for choosing the best training courses to meet your requirements and those that will help you solve your problems. Now there is enough information and tools to make the right and informed decision. Having an approximate plan and the understanding of what you need to pay attention to, you can reach the desired result, and your money will not be wasted.
Recommendations for choosing the best training courses
So, here is an approximate plan of action to choose the best courses.
Define your goal, requirements and evaluation criteria as clear as possible.
As we have already noted, it is impossible to start choosing courses without having a clearly defined goal and evaluation criteria, since it is impossible to make a rational decision. For example, you work as a marketer, and you are looking for some kind of SMM courses to improve your professional level. In this case, you have to look for the courses which are either entirely devoted to this issue, or at least the major part of the course is dedicated to the topic. It is also necessary to answer a number of important questions before making your final decision. How much are you willing to pay for the courses? Are you ready to go to another city, or would you rather study during your working hours? Having formed your goal and evaluation criteria, you will be able to understand whether this or that solution suits you.
Evaluate the websites of the learning centers and go through the reviews available on the Internet.
Most likely, you will use the Internet to search for the best courses (at least that’s what an overwhelming majority of people would usually do). Entering the “best courses on …” in the search query field will give some basic information.
You have already formed the vision of what you need, so you are ready to start evaluating different solutions. The first thing you need to pay attention to is the websites of the training companies and centers. As a rule, good respectable organizations have nice websites. They are convenient to search, and most importantly they contain the necessary information. The part which is particularly valuable for a potential participant is a complete description of the course (what exactly is included in it, how, when, where and for how long will the course take place, and who will be the course instructor). This kind of information is very important for assessing the course because after reading the course description, you can immediately see what is in it, but you need to consider other things as well. Find the information about the training center, which is provided by the others, such as reviews, or the scientific work of the teachers. When assessing any information, it is necessary to understand that it may not be entirely reliable, especially in such cases when it is extremely good, or, on the contrary, only negative feedback is provided. The best thing to do is to communicate with people face to face, but surely there are only certain occasions when you can really do this.
Gather all the information available and try to get the complete and versatile picture of the course, the trainer, the center itself, etc., but remember to check the reliability of your sources.
Try to find some information on industry forums and other similar resources.
Register on industry forums and ask for advice from the others. This will always be useful because you will get an additional perspective from a person who has no personal interest. Professionals in their field typically visit such forums, and their opinion is very valuable, so sometimes at this stage, you can get useful information that may have escaped your attention.
Get rid of the options that don’t exactly fit your requirements and narrow the list to maximum 4-6 choices.
By this point, you should already have enough information to conduct a preliminary assessment. Have you found a lot of negative feedback, or is the course program inadequate from the point of view of the things you need? Are the conditions and the state of the classrooms unacceptable to you? At this stage, you can begin to screen out those options you don’t like you. We recommend reducing the initial list to 4-6 choices.
Try to contact the representatives of the courses you’ve selected for your short list.
Ask them some of the questions you have. For example, you may not fully understand what is being covered within a particular topic from the description of the course. Therefore, you can first get additional information for yourself, and secondly you can personally assess the adequacy of communication with the client, or how knowledgeable the consultants are, if they are aware of the specifics of the organization’s work, can talk well, and if they are open and so on. Here are some of the things you can ask the consultants:
- Duration of the course. There is no right or wrong option here. It all depends on how many topics are considered in the class and whether they are considered in detail or not. So, for example, if the program is long, and there is not much time to look into it, we can conclude that the information is treated superficially, and accordingly, such courses will give you deep understanding of the issue.
- Additional information about the teachers/trainers. The level of your trainers’ proficiency influences the effectiveness of the study. It is very important to accurately determine the qualifications of the teacher, their practical experience, the availability of works in the field the courses are conducted in (if you haven’t yet found this information). Sometimes training centers have no teachers of their own – they invite specialists from other companies to conduct courses. This is certainly not the best option, but it still exists. The more you know about your future teacher, and the higher their professional level is, the better.
- Clarify all the issues related to the content of the course. As a rule, good training centers provide the most complete information about the courses, but you may still have questions about the content. Then it’s time to ask. For example, how are skills and knowledge implemented in practice?
- Costs of the course. Again, good training centers provide complete information about the courses on the website, but there might be issues related to the price. Does it include food, training materials and certification? It is very important to evaluate everything at once so that you are not faced with any unpleasant situation afterward.
- Assessments and feedback from previous students. As a rule, websites show feedback from their former students, but it is always positive. Ask if there is a database of reviews, where you can see all the feedback, for example. Maybe it is possible on some external resources. If there is no information of this kind, it will not be for the benefit of the organization that offers courses, because a really good center has nothing to hide. Otherwise, you have something to think about.
- Is there any support for the students after the course completion? “What do I need it for?” you might ask. For example, the subject of the course is a universal algorithm that allows any company to enter the market of another country. Of course, students will acquire necessary theoretic knowledge, but it will be very useful if they return from the courses and still have an opportunity to ask their course instructors some questions and consult them on specific issues that have arisen while implementing the strategy. Not all organizations provide such support.
- And one more question: Ask what exactly distinguishes this training organization from the others in terms of uniqueness? If an organization has its own original solutions or unique proposals, this indicates that this company stands out from the competition. And if so, then you, as a specialist, too, will be able to differ from your competitors. Isn’t it one of the primary reasons we attend courses?
So you’ve collected all the information about the courses available to you. You know a lot about the company, how professional and experienced the trainers are, or what are the conditions for conducting classes and their cost, as well as the opinions of other people about these courses – former students and professionals in your field. In order to perform the general assessment of selected courses, highlight the most important criteria and draw up a general table with estimates. Having assessed all the training organizations according to their criteria, and having calculated the total score, you can select the winner.
So, here is an approximate algorithm for your actions:
- Define your goals and your selection criteria (what matters to you);
- Collect initial information on the courses (on the website, on industry forums and other resources);
- Perform primary selection – select 4-6 options that meet your goals and criteria best of all.
- Contact the representatives of these training organizations and answer the questions that interest you. Fill in the information gaps about the organizations.
- Try to evaluate the feedback of former students about the courses.
- On the basis of the data obtained, compile a general rating table, where you will enter new information received from the representatives of the organizations and assess the applicants according to the chosen criteria.
- Compare the total score and define the winner.
Having read this article, you might think that choosing the best training courses is a difficult and time-consuming task. It is so, to some extent, however, if you spend your own time and energy, and approach this issue the proper way, you can choose the best solution. Your time and money will be invested with the great outcome.