Gearing up for Grad School: Your School List
However, there is much more to choosing grad schools than simply picking schools by their names, programs, or reputations. The schools that make the cut onto your list should be schools that will further your career goals, provide you with the support and opportunities you’re looking for, are located in places you wouldn’t mind living in for a few years (or longer), and fit in with your academic aspirations.
There are a number of steps you should follow.
STEP 1: CHOOSE A DEGREE AND SPECIALIZATION
It’s not just about where you go to school, it’s about what you’re going to school for. Are you aiming for a Masters? Considering getting a Ph.D.? In which fields are you interested? Start by answering those questions so that you can best start narrowing down your school options (since not every school will offer every type of degree or specialization).
STEP 2: CONDUCT A SELF-EVALUATION
Once you’ve decided on a degree and specialization, ask yourself the following questions:
These questions will get you thinking about what’s important to you, and what you consider important an institution of higher learning.
STEP 3: CREATE A ROUGH LIST
The idea behind the questions listed above is getting you to think about:
Starting from the top aspect (geography) and working your way down will allow you to narrow down schools based on your preferences, ensuring that you are keeping with your ultimate, bottom-line needs.
STEP 4: RESEARCH THE SCHOOLS
Now that you’re armed with a load of knowledge about what you are looking for, you need to go out and find out which schools can provide you with the closest match to what you’re are looking for. In order to do this, you need to investigate them.
Use the following sources to help you as you research:
STEP 5: NARROW DOWN THE LIST
Now that you’ve thoroughly researched each school, it is time to narrow down the list to the 5-10 schools to which you will apply. You may be able to do this very easily based on the information you’ve already gathered, but if you are still having trouble paring the list down, take some time to speak to alumni (again) and visit the schools (if you haven’t already). This should give you some additional insight into each potential grad school.
STEP 6: MAKE THE FINAL DECISIONS
Once all the information has been gathered, it is time to make the final decisions. Most candidates end up applying to 5-10 schools, although you may end up applying to more or fewer schools. The final list should have the same overall make-up:
Keep in mind, even with a step-by-step list, there will be things outside the norm you may have to consider. Use this list as a guide, and let it help you as you determine where your academic future will lie.