What to Think When Making a Graduate School Decision?

By: Inaara Rajwani 

You have made the decision to pursue a graduate program. You’ve weighed the options, researched the benefits, discovered the value of having an advanced degree, and clicked submit on your application. Receiving that acceptance letter can be exciting, yet nerve-racking whether you just graduated, or you have taken a step back for a few years from pursuing your undergraduate degree. The actions that will follow in choosing a graduate degree program can be manageable. As you take the next step toward your personal and professional goals, take note of the following tips to help choose the program that is best suited for you.   

  1. Keep Your Career Goals in Mind
  • If you are seeking a specialized area of focus, examine the programs concentrations offered at each institution that reflects your career interests. 
  • Examine the credentials professionals in the industry process and research the skills potential employers are seeking. Scope out if the program offers opportunities to develop those abilities. 
  • If you would like your graduate program to give you a professional edge, then the faculty members at the university is important if you are seeking for a mentor. 
  • If you are considering pursuing a thesis, consider a university that has one or more professors who do research in your general area of interest, and with whom you can imagine working closely for a year (or two)
  1. Network with Faculty, Admission Advisors, Students, and Alumni’s
  • To understand the environment of the school, you should go to the source. A conversation with anyone above will give you the insight into the program and its dynamics of the department. 
  • This is a great chance to make personal connections!!! 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions about their backgrounds and see if it aligns with your interests
  1. Consider Your Finances 
  • Paying for graduate school can be intimidating but different options are available for you. As you narrow a list of schools, be sure to check out their scholarships, loans, and grants. School may offer assistantships and fellowships for students 
  • For those who have worked in the industry prior, your employer may offer tuition reimbursement which can pay for a predetermined amount of continuing education credits or college coursework to be applied towards a degree. 
  • Don’t forget to factor in the costs of tuition, textbooks, hidden fees, such as transportation, and student activity fees. 
  1. Does It Fit with Your Lifestyle? 
  • Determine the level of flexibility you need
  • There are options available that can allow students to earn an advanced degree at the right pace and format for them
  • Determine how much time you’re willing to invest, considering personal values, work, family commitments, and the specific type of graduate experience you are interested in 
  1. Don’t Forget the “Why” Behind Your Decision
  • What do you hope to achieve by pursing this program?
  • Examine the curricula and course description to assess how each offering aligns with your passions 
  • Graduate school is challenging, but it will be more manageable if you’re working towards a degree that matters to you 
  • Understand your expectations and what you would like to receive from the program 
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