Pros and Cons of Niche Colleges

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By Keith Stanton

Most college students opt to attend a general college that offers a diverse range of degrees. They ultimately get a specific degree, but they are exposed to a variety of degree options and courses. However, other people choose to attend niche colleges. For example, some people go to golf colleges and others go to culinary colleges. There are pros and cons to these niche college options; consider these before making a decision about whether or not a niche program is right for you.

Benefits of Niche Colleges

Some of the benefits of niche colleges that may make you interested in attending one include:

o   Take only classes that interest you. If you know that you are passionate about a specific area of study, such as golf or cooking, then you may only want to study topics related to that topic. A niche college generally allows you to do this. In contrast, a more general college is going to have general education requirements that require you to take classes on many different subjects. If you hate the idea of taking English 101 and Basic Math then a niche college may make more sense for you.

o   More detailed niche topic education. You can get a degree in niche subjects like golf or cooking from a regular college. However, you may only get a very basic education in those topics even though that is what your degree is in. A focused education at a niche college allows you to really explore the topic in depth. For example, you may take a full range of culinary courses including classes on running a cooking school, baking pastries, managing a restaurant, etc. The regular college degree may only touch briefly on these subjects that are explored in-depth at a niche college.

o   Excellent networking opportunities in your field. Every single person that you meet in a niche college is going to have an interest in your field. The professors, the support staff and the students that you attend class with will all be great people to network with. The broader general college may provide only limited networking opportunities specific to your niche area of study.

o   Better internship opportunities and job placement assistance. The school that specializes in a niche topic will offer in-depth assistance in getting jobs in that field. Many job opportunities will be presented to students here that won’t be offered to students at a more general school where the niche topic isn’t a big part of the program.

Drawbacks of Niche Colleges

There are drawbacks of niche colleges that must be weighed against those benefits. Some of those drawbacks include:

o   Cost. Attending a local community college or a state school may be much more affordable than paying for a niche college since niche colleges are private institutions that can be very pricey. However, if you would otherwise attend a private four year college then the cost of a niche college may be comparable or even in some cases cheaper.

o   No option to change degrees. College students often start school thinking that they want to get a specific degree only to change their minds halfway through. Changing your major at a general college is fairly easy and doesn’t usually add a lot of time to your degree program. This isn’t true when deciding to stop attending a niche school and start another school program instead.

o   Limited exposure to different topics. Although you will get a great in-depth education in the topic that interests you, you will not learn a lot about other topics during your time in college. Later on you may wish that you had gained a broader base of knowledge during your college years.

o   Limitations of job opportunities. A niche college degree makes it a lot easier to get a job in your field of interest. However, it often means that you may be limited in your ability to get other jobs. For example, a degree from a niche college in traditional Chinese medicine would make it easy to get a job in that field but not easy to get a job in another field that would usually accept a general four year degree as a foundation for getting the job.

o   Accreditation issues. Many niche colleges are not accredited. This isn’t always true; it’s just something to be aware of when selecting a niche college. This is less of a problem when attending a more traditional school program.

Author Information

Keith Stanton blogs over at Airline Tickets, a leading travel blog.  He also enjoys searching for the best online coupons.

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Categories: Academics