Familiarity and comfort often come into play when choosing a graduate school. Many students settle for continuing their education at the same institution where they completed their undergrad, because they’ve grown to know the campus and faculty.
When deciding to continue on to grad school, choosing a campus based on your level of familiarity isn’t always the best approach. Given the high cost of education, you’ll want to make sure you’re spending your money on a program that meets your needs.
We’ve outlined some of the most important things to consider when choosing a grad school, to help you determine where you’ll take your next educational steps.
1. What are your goals?
If you intend on using graduate school to get into the career you want, your goals are much different than someone who wants to contribute to the research and academic community. Determining what you want from a program is the first step.
2. What are the best schools to help you meet your goals?
If your primary focus is obtaining the right career post-graduation, you’ll want to narrow down your choices to schools that have connections with those industries or employers. Check out the Career Services Department and see what types of jobs they’ve helped alumni get in the past.
If your primary focus is research and academia based, you’ll want to focus on schools that are conducting studies in which you’re interested in participating. As a student, you’ll likely be contributing to your professors’ ongoing research, or will start research in a similar field; making sure your interests align is critical.
3. What are the requirements for your graduate program?
Once you narrow down the best schools to help you meet your goals, look at their requirements for admission. Do they require the GMAT? Or the GRE? Or the LSAT or MCAT? Do you have to take a single subject GRE as well? How many recommendation letters do you need? Are they needed from previous professors or employers?
Not all graduate schools have the same requirements, so this is a critical part of your discovery.
4. Study and Network
Graduate programs can be pretty competitive, so you’ll want to spend a solid amount of time studying for your exams and preparing your applications.
You’ll also want to be sure that your recommendations come from the right people. If you need personal recommendations from professors and have been out of school for a while, you’ll need to network and find a way to reengage with past profs.
Best of luck in your graduate school research and application!