Choosing the right graduate program and applying to the right school is still a mysterious process for many students. It is a process that can be fraught with a plethora of uncertainties and ambiguities. For many post graduate students, anxiety can become an all-to-familiar friend. You have completed your research, interviewed professors, talked with present and former students, and have decided that grad school is the right choice.
There could have been hundreds, potentially thousands of schools offering the program that could lead to your master’s or Ph.D. It is very likely you would give the following advice to a student following in your footsteps. There are six factors to consider.
Choose Your Programs Based on Life Goals
There are thousands of programs to choose from. Are you interested in the scientific value of your program? Will you attend to leverage the school’s reputation? Will you use your education to start your own business? In short, your search can begin with the end of graduate school in mind. What domain in life do you want to an become expert in?
Will the Program Prepare You for Your Career of Choice?
Graduate school, for the most part, can be expensive. This is why matching your program with your goals is paramount to future success. This is self-examining process that goes hand-in-hand with conducting thorough research about your industry.
Choose Your Specialty
Graduate programs that offer the same degree may be different in terms of the type of training offered. If pursuing a Ph.D, whatever the field, there are no general areas to specialize in. There is no Ph.D offered in general chemistry, biology, engineering or history etc. Consider that your program may offer specialized training in only a specific range of sub-disciplines.
Obviously there are careers that you will go to school for such as dental, law, or medical school. However, the majority of universities have many specialized post bachelor programs from applied anthropology and dentistry, to engineering and environmental studies and others. Higher education offers the potential to impact one’s future professional, social and financial well-being for the better.
Should You Consider an Ivy League School?
There is a common misconception that a master’s degree or Ph.D from a high-profile university is a prerequisite for career success. There is really no proof that it works that way.
Is There a Best Grad School Program?
While many students choose a grad school program based on location, others choose a program based on the school’s reputation. The fact is in many disciplines there may not be a best program. The best program for a student can weigh heavily on their career goals. The real prestige of a program can be unrelated to the real value it has to offer.
Will Your Employment Prospects Be Robust?
Employment opportunities are a strong reason to pursue a post graduate program. Does the average starting salary for graduates in your field meet your expectations? Is your school’s career center on par with that of other schools offering a similar program?