Once you’ve decided to go to graduate or professional school, you then have to decide where to attend. To help you make your decision, utilize all available resources. Request brochures and catalogs from different schools, and browse their Web sites. Gather information from libraries, bookstores and college-placement offices. Also, speak with different professors, professionals in your field of interest, friends, family members, and college counselors. Be sure to visit different campuses and speak with representatives from each graduate or professional school. Ask your graduate admissions officer for dates and information on any graduate education forums or fairs being held in your area.
When researching graduate or professional schools, match areas of faculty expertise to your own specific interests. Ask the school’s placement office where graduates of the programs are employed and what their current job-placement rate is. Talk with alumni about the advantages and disadvantages of the curriculum. Check the graduate or professional school’s ranking compared to other schools. More importantly, check the ranking of the program in which you’re interested. After all, just because it’s a good school, doesn’t necessarily mean all the programs are ranked as highly.
Be careful when selecting a graduate or professional school, and really seek out what makes each school unique. Determine your preferences and evaluate schools based on these particulars. Although your area of interest and the program’s accreditation are probably your top priorities, also consider such things as the school’s size and location. Realize that some are highly specialized, offering only one kind of degree, while others offer master’s, doctoral and professional degrees in many different fields. Also, determine if you meet the school’s prerequisites, such as expected work experience and academic preparation. Find out the selectivity of the program—how many are accepted and how rigorous is their selection process? Evaluate the school’s credentials—who teaches the courses, what is the faculty turnover rate and reputation?
Once you’ve selected a few schools, carefully research each of them for the admission requirements, application deadlines and any assessment tests that may be required. Plan your time accordingly. Take into account that some tests are given infrequently, and you may want to fit in a test-preparation course, as well. Plus, you’ll want to have enough time to have letters of recommendation prepared, and time to write any required essays, etc.