Six Steps To Choosing the Right Grad School

Today’s post is written by Carrie Wynne, the author of 10 Ways to be Deliriously Happy – How to Live an Inspired Life.  She conducts personal development workshops based on the principles in her book showing others how to connect to the power within themselves and develop mental strategies to create an incredible life.  As a professional sales consultant she also offers training, coaching, and sales seminars.  

Visiting prospective grad schools can be fun, but it’s also a lot of hard work. There are critical pieces of information you need to know before you decide which universities to consider attending and the answers aren’t always as obvious as location, school and program reputation.

I believe strongly in the vibration and energy of people and experiences. Intuition is something that lives inside of us and gives us clues as to whether we’re on the right path. Spending time really digesting your options will help you notice which one “feels” the best.

Here are 6 Steps to choosing the right grad school for you:

1) List priorities. What are your values?  What’s most important to you about this grad school experience?  Once you decide what you value the most and what your commitments are, write them down.  These are your guidelines. This is your criteria for making your decisions.

2) Listen to your intuition. Try getting a feel for the school so you can get a taste of what life on campus is actually like. Can you see yourself there? Attend an open house and get a firsthand look at the different buildings and departments. Be sure and visit during a week when classes are in session.  Could you sit in on a class or two in a discipline you’d consider studying? Walk the grounds or sit down on a bench and observe the students at lunch or hustling to the different buildings between classes. Would you feel comfortable in that learning environment?

3) Try Informational interviews. Setting up an informational interview can be very helpful when determining which grad school to attend.  Set up the meeting in advance and keep it brief.  Be prepared and ready.  Write down the top 5-7 questions that will benefit you the most when making your decision.  If you’re friendly and respect their time, people will genuinely want to help you and tell you anything you want to hear.

4) Meet faculty. Many graduate students will visit their prospective campuses and meet with faculty members. A formal interview with one of the faculty members can be a big advantage because graduate-level professors have a say in admissions to their programs. If you can afford the trip, arrange for interviews at all of your first-choice schools.  For example, if you’re pursuing a masters in nursing degree, try and meet with the professors in the nursing school in advance to ensure a good connection. How do the professors and students interact with one another? How many students are in the classes? What kind of teaching style are the professors employing?

5) Find flexibility. Consider all the aspects of your grad school experience.  Picking the right college is about more than just academics. Location is an obvious factor. You’re an adult now, so everything from the courses you take to the food you eat is all up to you. You need to be sure that your university of choice has everything you need to learn and survive, from stimulating coursework to proper housing. Your search should include everything from commute time and public transit to family considerations.

6) Manage your time. Don’t procrastinate. Plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time to do the research and prepare your applications.

Following these steps will help you ensure that the choice you make about which grad school to attend will be a valuable life experience.

Good luck!

Have you applied to grad school? What are your tips?

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