Last week, with the help of SECA sponsor Pan Am, we dove into the benefits of choosing a Flight Academy to achieve a flying career. This week Jill Meridith, Director of Enrollment Marketing at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, helps us look a little closer at choosing the University route.

Choosing the right college for you can be confusing, but it's a critical choice. It's the foundation for future success and it's a big investment, not just in terms of money, but also time and effort. It's also a big commitment, so you'll want to gain as much information as possible.

#1: The Basics: Accreditation Perhaps it goes without saying that choosing a college that's properly accredited is key. The first goal for those who seek a college degree is to make sure those college credits are recognized by employers as a valid measure of your professionalism. You'll also want to be sure the hard work you put into your studies will be recognized by other schools in the event you wish to advance your education in future. Unfortunately, there are schools out there that are not properly accredited, make sure your choice is.

#2: Personal Interests Chances are you wouldn't be reading this if you did not have some interest in aeronautics, aviation or aerospace. Whether it's because you've wanted to be a pilot from the first time you set foot on an aircraft, because your goal is to be an astronaut, because you're fascinated by airports and airlines or because you're looking for a new more satisfying career, if your interests and aspirations are specialized, it makes sense to go to a specialized school. Many colleges offer specialized studies in industries like culinary arts, fashion, journalism and they are successful in that all their efforts are devoted to a specific field. The best aeronautical colleges do the same thing. Faculty bring specific industry expertise and understanding that and that translates to classroom discussions, projects and research that are meaningful and interesting for students who have a passion for these fields and not just boring philosophical lectures.

#3: The Network This same principle of shared interests carries forward in terms of those who share the classroom with you as well as those who came before and those who will follow. The collective body of shared interest and expertise in a specialized field creates a snowball of competitive advantage. Relationships made in the classroom will extend throughout every facet of the industry. So whether your career takes you into the corporate or government world, into flight or space exploration, air traffic management or business, you're bound to interact with other alumni who can help to shape and advance your industry success.

#4: Industry Demand Walking across the stage to accept your diploma is an amazing feeling - but knowing that you'll walk off the stage and into a great job is even better. Earning a specialized degree provides the specialized knowledge employers actively seek. They understand that they won't have to introduce you to the concept of revenue accounting and explain why it's critical for their operations, your aeronautical education will demonstrate your firm grasp of this important field of study that other college grads may not have gained at a more generic college.

#5: Internships, Co-ops and Employment This specialized knowledge is what motivates industry leaders to actively recruit at these colleges. They have a vested interest in working with these colleges to develop programs and educate students beyond the classroom preparing them to be the best employees possible, right from day one. Specialized schools can offer students college credit as well as real-world experience through internships and cooperative education. These opportunities are often the foot-in-the-door that can lead to the best jobs at graduation.

#6: Ongoing Support - Ongoing Success In today's competitive world, education and professional development don't stop at graduation. If you want to succeed in the long run, constant commitment to education and self-improvement are required. Having a community of industry experts at your fingertips is priceless. Specialized colleges offer faculty who can take specific industry challenges (should company X choose A or B to solve their problem in order to maximize profits), bring it to the classroom and conduct research for companies who don't have the time and resources to take it on themselves. Current students gain insight into specific company challenges and can speak to this experience in their resume; the company maximizes profit and the graduate who was able to solve the problem with the help of his college gets a promotion - everybody wins!

The benefit of specialized education comes full circle. Not all colleges can offer these advantages - finding one that can will make the difference between a generic job and a career that will launch you into a lifetime of success.

Learn more about Flight Schools and Universities, along with careers in all other sectors of the industry at the Student Education and Careers in Aviation (SECA). SECA provides students with the opportunity to speak with industry leaders along with trying out all the latest technology. Tickets are still on sale, so click here for more information and to register.