Choosing A Private Driving School
Private driving schools are not tied to a specific carrier; rather they are tied to the industry as a whole. Looking at private driving schools should not be taken lightly as the investment of both time and money is a major one. Private schools provide you with some of the same benefits that carrier-sponsored schools do, with slightly different twists financially and career wise. If you decide a private school is the way to go, what exactly should you be looking for?
An important thing to look at when choosing a private school is cost. The cost of schools is relatively competitive because schools are like trucking companies--always in search of drivers. You can readily get an idea of what the schools in your area will cost by making a few phone calls. Find out the general costs for each school and know what those fees are for. Are they all-inclusive, or do other administrative or test fees show up at the end? Depending on the school, you may be required to pay all fees up front or there may be a graduated payment plan. In most cases, you will be required to have 100% of your fees paid prior to graduation and receipt of your CDL. So, be sure you can afford it. Check for various financial aid programs that may be available. The schools can point you in the right direction for these programs.
Another important area to look at when choosing a private driving school is the class schedule. Many students work full-time jobs while attending driving school, so there are typically several schedule options to choose from. Maybe you want to complete the course as quickly as possible, regardless of when it meets. Perhaps you only have the nights or weekends available for driving school. Take into consideration the length of the course. There are some courses that can be completed in less than a few weeks and others take several weeks. Each school has different opportunities, but with a little effort you can find the one that meets your needs and your schedule.
Many student drivers have been disappointed that during school they spent so much time in the classroom and so little time in the driver's seat. You will have an opportunity to refine your driving skills, but the point of truck driving school is to teach you enough to pass your written and driving exams. This means that you will indeed spend some time in the classroom, some time driving and some time watching others drive. Right up front, ask how the course is set up and find out about how much time you will spend doing each task.
The most important part of attending a driving school is graduating and obtaining employment. Find out if the school will help you find a job. Ask them if they are associated with one or more carriers, at least in such a way that they refer you to those carriers. Do they hold an open house where recruiters come to the school and meet the students? Do recruiters come in on their own time to meet students? Simply find out exactly what the school will do to help you gain meaningful employment. Perhaps the school even offers some sort of an employment guarantee.
Once you determine which school you want to attend, do a basic background check. Ask the school for a list of graduates that may serve as references. Assuming there are no negative issues they want to hide, the school should be very willing to share reference information. Then, on your own, contact some of the carriers in the local area. What is their perception of the school and its graduates? If the graduates speak well of the school and the carriers speak well of the school, then the school is probably fairly good.
These are just a few of the things you should look at when you are choosing a private driving school. You may be able to think of more items you are concerned with and, if you do, make sure you get the answers you are looking for. This is the beginning of your career and it will require an investment from you. Choose the school that meets your individual needs. Make some calls, get some information and enjoy your future success!