Deciding to pursue graduate studies is a big deal! You have decided to commit some two to five years or more into studying and gaining mastery in a particular field. Usually, as an undergraduate, you learn the general scope of subjects, become curious in an area, and eventually decide to get expertise in the same.
Since you are fully intending to study at a place for that much time, you really need to be sure that your choice of graduate school is the best fit for you. After all, it is highly demanding to be a graduate student. So, you must understand that having a conducive environment makes learning more fun rather than being some tedious work.
In this light, this article has highlighted factors you should absolutely take into consideration when making the choice of graduate school you’d like to attend. Please also know that these factors have been written in no particular order as they are all important.
The very first question you should ask is ‘where do I want to study and why?’ People pick their location preferences for varying reasons and so it can be hard to give specifics. For some, it might be as simple as having a family in that location. For others, they might just see a future in that city. While we may not be able to give specifics, here are a few questions that when answered, could guide your choice –
Where is my course of study better recognized?
Where am I most likely to get funded without hassles?
If I eventually intend to settle where I study, which country/city affords me better job opportunities?
What are the climate conditions like?
Worthy to note is that a location is more than just the country. It also addresses states, provinces, and cities. So, you might decide that a country is a great fit for you but prefer a particular city over another in the same country.
2. Ranking and Specialization
Another vital thing to know about your choice of graduate school is school/program ranking. It might surprise you that the highest ranked school in the world might not actually be the best for your program. This is the reason why should consider ranking and specialization. And you should look at the ranking in light of what you want to study.
For instance, as a medical student, you want to know how recognized your intended school is in your field of specialization. An applied science major should be more interested in the quality of research that the school offers.
Furthermore, if you will be working closely with an advisor, you want to check the faculty of your department and ascertain that there are professors focusing on areas you wish to explore. Essentially, as important as world rankings are in your choice of graduate school, they are definitely not the only thing you should be considering.
3. Diversity, Culture, and Inclusion
Diversity, culture, and inclusion are often overlooked by students when trying to choose schools. Yet, they are extremely important. As a student, your general wellbeing affects every other thing. You want to be in a place where safety and inclusiveness are prioritized. You do not have to be there in person to know. Often times, you could tell from your communication with persons in the university.
It is important to know that this list is not exhaustive. Actually, researching for schools that are the best fit requires some dedication. But it is worth the process. In the end, you will be spending quite a while at this place; you want to be able to state the reasons why you choose that school(s).
There are various ways to go about your school search. A helpful tip will be to connect and communicate with students in proposed schools via mail or LinkedIn. It’s advisable to also keep communication with program graduate coordinators and to peruse school websites. Congratulations on your journey to grad school! All the best from all of us at iSI!