School reputation is undeniably a factor; however, beware of relying solely on this often over-rated factor. In general, the most important criteria involves how well the program matches your specific interests, abilities, academic background, career interest, and finances. Moreover, employers and industries often have recruiting relationships with specific schools, based on a particular program. Research is critical. Do your homework and explore the following when evaluating programs.
Consult with Faculty and Students in Your Field of Study:
Talk to professors and current students to learn about their graduate schools and experiences. Read professional journals to learn about professors who are researching and publishing in your area of interest. Take the initiative to contact them. You could gain valuable information to differentiate you from other applicants in the admission process.
Evaluate the Specific Program:
The quality and reputation of an academic program and the professors with whom you’ll work will wield more clout than the overall status of the institution. Seek out faculty and coursework that correspond to your specialized interests.
Use the Student-Alumni Career Connect System:
Numerous alumni have offered to share their professional and academic experiences with you. Identify those in your chosen career and ask about the requisite training. Find alumni who have earned graduate degrees you’re researching and seek their advice. Click here to learn more about the SACC system.
Consider the Best Financial Aid Package:
Is there funding available? Which school offers you the best deal? Your package will depend on how much a school wants you. This might include financial support, assistantships, fellowships, and loans.