From the MASSAGE Magazine Guest Editorial titled, “What’s in an Education?” by Susie Hale, Ph.D., in the October 2008 issue. Article summary: The author addresses the issue of the value of nontraditional versus traditional education.

Once you have decided on a nontraditional path that meets your needs and your schedule, how do you choose the right institution?

First, it is important to evaluate it. You should ask:

1. How long has the school been offering programs?
2. Does it have an established record of success based on a large number of students and graduates over the years?
3. Is the school respected in the field? (You can get some idea of this by its membership and participation in professional associations.)
4. What do its graduates report about the learning experience?
5. Is the faculty qualified and competent?

Next, you should ask yourself what your ultimate goal is in your education:

6. Is it just personal interest?
7. Are you seeking professional advancement?
8. Do you want to change careers?

Then, determine whether this learning will help you accomplish that goal. Find someone who is doing what you want to do, and ask that person, “What training would you recommend to do what you are doing?” This is a very important step that can save you years of education in the wrong field!

—Susie Hale, N.D., Ph.D., is director of practitioner education at Clayton College of Natural Health.