What to Consider When Looking for an Ag School

By Emily Folk

Solving the world’s food issues is a job for ag graduates.

The human population continues to increase, and that means there will be more mouths to feed than ever before. However, with the increase in population, land for crops and pasture becomes more scarce. If we want to ensure no one goes hungry, we have to find ways to produce food that is economical, environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

No longer is the study of agriculture strictly about ancient farming practices. Now, it focuses on food technology, animal breeding, farm management and operations inspection. As technology advances, so does the science of agriculture. Getting a degree in ag will give you the opportunity to solve some of the world’s most pressing issues. Below are some things to consider when looking for an ag school.

1. What Type of Degree You Want

Knowing what type of degree you want to earn in agriculture — whether it’s an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. — will help you determine the best school to attend and how long you will have to study. For some degrees, you can get certified online in about a year. However, if you’re looking for a higher degree, it will take you longer.

2. Online or Traditional Classroom Experience

As technology advances and it becomes easier than ever to connect with people around the world, how students attend classes has also changed. When deciding what type of ag school to attend, you’ll need to determine if you want to earn a degree online or in the traditional way. There are pros and cons to being online or in an actual classroom, and you’ll have to decide which one works best for your schedule, budget and learning abilities.

When it comes to traditional schools, land-grant universities are often the best choice as a college to attend. These schools are state-run and focus on teaching practical agriculture, which combines teaching, research and outreach. Land-grant universities can also be ideal for getting hands-on training and experience working with businesses, individuals and programs that are focused on agriculture.

3. Access to Professionals

When deciding what ag school to attend, you’ll need to ensure you have access to professors and professionals who know their subject matter. You want the best education money can buy, and you deserve to have the best teachers. There’s a 15 to 20 percentage shortage of agriculture teachers nationwide, so selecting an agriculture program with a diverse range of coursework requires even more research.

4. Cost

It’s not a secret that a college degree can be an expensive endeavor, and getting advanced degrees will increase the bill. That means you’ll need to figure out if going to school is something that will fit into your budget. If not, you’ll have to decide if you can qualify for scholarships to offset the cost or if loans are necessary to complete your ag degree.

Online universities may be less expensive than a traditional school, and they may be more flexible for class schedules, project due dates, etc. This could be a great way to earn a degree on your own time and within budget, but you may not get the hands-on education you hoped for. You’ll have to decide what sacrifices (if any) you are willing to make to get a good, cost-effective education.

5. Ability to Find Jobs After Graduation

There are so many different areas to study in the ag field, which means there are a plethora of agricultural jobs that will be awaiting you after you graduate. Finding employment will probably not be an issue, but it’s something to consider when choosing a subject to focus on.

Earning an ag degree is a great way to make an impact on the world. This degree will give you the ability to find ways to solve food issues and develop technology to make agriculture more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. If you want a career with meaning that improves the quality of life, an ag degree might just be what you’re looking for.

About the author: Emily is a sustainability writer and avid gardener. You can read more of her work on her site, Conservation Folks, where she writes about helping tomorrow’s planet today.