Education
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How Do I Choose the Best Horticulture Courses?

Judith Smith Sullivan
Judith Smith Sullivan

The best horticulture courses will offer a combination of theoretical studies and practical experience in order to provide a comprehensive educational experience. You should consider your educational goals as well as your time and budget constraints to determine which school offers the best courses for you. By searching a programs's course catalog and interviewing instructors, you can determine which courses will be the most beneficial.

Begin by writing down your goals. Some individuals want to complete a program and receive a degree or certification in horticulture while others simply want to take classes for their personal enrichment. Decide what your educational intentions are as this will affect which courses you decide to take. Typically, community colleges, community centers, and some home improvement and gardening centers offer inexpensive horticulture courses, but courses that offer college credit and that lead to a degree are more expensive. For individual horticulture courses, sometimes garden clubs host workshops courses that are free of charge for members.

Community and garden centers may offer horticulture classes.
Community and garden centers may offer horticulture classes.

Next, determine how much time you can devote to your studies. It helps to make a schedule of your weekly responsibilities, including work, time with family and exercise, to determine how much time you really have for extracurricular activities. Unless you are a full time student, you will probably have to find courses that are held at night or on weekends or that are offered online or as a combination of online and face to face formats.

Finally, consider your budget. Publicly funded two year colleges and universities generally offer the least expensive horticulture degree programs. Private institutions are usually more expensive. Community centers and gardening stores may offer horticulture courses at affordable rates.

Naturally, many horticulture enthusiasts enjoy the hands on component of cultivating plants. Even so, there is a great deal of theoretical knowledge to be gained through lecture-style horticulture courses. Consider whether you would prefer to learn through hands on application or through lectures. Many online classes do not have a lab or hands on component but still offer valuable insights which you can use in your own personal plant cultivation.

You can find out whether a class is a lab or a lecture class through the course description and syllabus. Educational institutions list regular courses in a document called the course catalog and the upcoming courses in another document called the course schedule. Use the catalog to find courses that interest you, and consult the schedule to see if they will be offered soon.

Contact the instructor for the course. If the instructor is not listed in the course schedule, you may have to call or email the school for information. Request a syllabus from the instructor and ask about course objectives, or what he or she hopes students will learn by the end of class. Consider the instructor's demeanor and overall attitude towards you as well as the course material. If the instructor seems unenthusiastic or rude, look for another course.

The syllabus should provide a clear overview of the course. It should include a week-by-week list of topics, textbook and supply requirements, and a description of how students are assessed, whether by tests, essays, or performance in lab work. If the syllabus seems poorly organized or simply doesn't address subjects that are important to you, consider another course.

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    • Community and garden centers may offer horticulture classes.
      By: DLeonis
      Community and garden centers may offer horticulture classes.