Making the decision to attend graduate school comes with a variety of factors to consider—perhaps the biggest choice of all being which school to attend. So, how do you go about narrowing down your list?
Online versus on-campus courses, costs, and program offerings are just a few of the factors to keep in mind when choosing the right grad school to fit your needs.
How to Find the Right Grad School for You
Chances are, you have an idea of what you want to study. You may have recently finished your undergraduate education and want to continue with your studies, or you’ve been out in the workforce for a while and want to advance your career, learn something new, or maybe even enter a different field. Whatever position you’re in, it’s important to find the right program at the right school to help you achieve your educational and career goals.
If you plan to attend school full-time, you’re more likely to look for programs with on-campus courses to immerse yourself in the learning process and interact with classmates. This means you’ll have to factor the location of the campus into your decision. Do you want to stay close to where you already are, or are you ready to try a new environment?
Depending on the industry you’d like to enter upon graduation, you may want to consider looking for a school in a region with plenty of employment opportunities in your chosen field. Individuals interested in technology might consider schools in Silicon Valley, while those who want to learn about health sciences may focus on Charlotte—a major hub for the healthcare industry.
If you plan on working while earning your degree, you may opt to take online classes, or a hybrid of online and on-campus courses to get the best of both worlds. Online courses provide the flexibility to tailor your education to your schedule. Just make sure the courses you need to fulfill the degree requirements are offered online and meet your needs.
Your education is an investment, but you may be worried about covering the costs associated with earning your degree. While you narrow down your list of schools, be sure to check out the financial aid options at each institution. Along with scholarships, loans, and grants, some schools may offer assistantships or fellowships for graduate students.
All of these options will help ease the costs associated with your education and could help you earn valuable experience to enhance your resumé. You may also want to consider your future earning potential and job opportunities when weighing your options—you want your degree to be worth the money, time, and energy you put into earning it.
Employment and Networking Opportunities
You’re doing this for your future, so be sure to keep your long-term goals in mind while choosing a school. Are courses taught by professors who have relevant experience in your chosen field? Which companies hired recent graduates from your chosen program? How valuable will your degree be to prospective employers?
The right contacts can help you further your career, so be sure to look for employer partners and alumni you can network with—who you know can make all the difference.
The Right Fit
Most importantly, you need to find the school that is right for you. Think about what you need most from a school, and make sure the programs you’re considering offer the features that work best for you. When all of the puzzle pieces fit together, you’ll know you made the right choice.