A good first step when coming up with questions for school staff and references is to read through the school’s website, brochures and other marketing materials and think of important questions that weren’t answered by what you read. Use the list below to come up with additional questions.
The best way to talk to people is in person, so if you can attend the school and meet its staff and students that would be ideal (preferably during class time). If that’s not possible, the next best option is to call them up rather than email them since emails can get lost, filtered by spam blockers or get left unanswered for a long time.
Once you have your list of questions written up go ahead and ask them. Be aware that staff are probably busy with their work and can only spare a certain amount of time. If you keep to the point, you should be able to get all your questions asked in 15 or 20 minutes.
- Can you tell me about your program and school?
- Who does the instructing? How much experience do they have, both as a farrier and instructor? Or are they students themselves?
- What is the student-to-instructor ratio? How large are the classes?
- Will I get to shoe live horses?
- What kind of shoeing will I get to learn?
- Where do the horses come from? Do we have to drive around to different locations to work on them?
- How many hours of instruction is the program? What percentage of hands-on experience is there? How many horses will a student get to shoe?
- How are the exams structured and how do they prepare you to work as a farrier?
- Do you track what percentage of graduates end up working as farriers? If not, do you have an estimate?
- Are supplies and books included in the cost of tuition and if so, do students get to keep them?
- Is room and board included in your fees? Ask any specific questions about the accommodation if you have particular concerns.
- Do you provide financial aid of any kind?
- Does your program follow a standard curriculum set out by a farrier association that’s designed to help students achieve certification upon graduation?
- Does your program have an apprenticeship component?
- Do you help students find work?
- Do you offer continuing education programs?
Ask school staff for references of current and former students and actually follow-up on those references. You can ask them some of the same questions you ask the staff to see what their perspective is like (i.e. for a current student ask, “How much time is spent doing hands-on work?” or for a past student ask, “Did they help you find work?”). Also, make sure to ask questions about their specific experience with the school. Here are a few:
- Are you learning (did you learn) enough skills to competently work as a farrier?
- Do you feel the curriculum is thorough and well-rounded?
- Are the instructors knowledgeable and good at teaching? Were they patient, supportive, etc.
- Were the tools and books of good quality?
- How was the accommodation?
- Overall, are you enjoying (did you enjoy) your time at the school?
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