You have completed your Bachelor’s Degree program, but you need to advance to a graduate program in order to complete your formal training. There are dozens of programs available from many colleges and universities throughout the world. Currently students are working towards graduate degrees in everything from the arts and architecture to social work, medicine and even library science.
It is important to look for a school specializing in your specific needs when beginning a college search for a graduate school. The best place to begin is with your own college or university. If their program is adequate to your needs it may be a good idea to stay right where you are. That is not often the case, and most students will find themselves relocating to begin their second level of study.
How do you select your graduate school? You begin by doing many of the primary assessments done before entering into a Bachelor’s program. From the standard criteria of college analysis a graduate student should review:
1. Fundamentals – examine the geographic location of the school, the setting, size, cost and any affiliations
2. Campus Lifestyle – review housing, clubs, and organizations
3. Student Profile – looks at the gender ratio, diversity, age and number of students
4. Degrees and Majors – considers the degrees available as well as any special services and programs
5. Admissions – reviews selectivity of the graduate program
The “Fundamentals” for a graduate school are a bit different than an initial college experience. The focus of the graduate work may have a huge impact on the geographic location of the school. For example, a person specializing in a medical science or profession may want to be near to one of the hospitals, laboratories or agencies that focus on their specific field of study. This may mean choosing a college close to a certain city or region.
The setting may no longer be a strong factor when choosing a school, but the cost of living may come into consideration. Many graduate students do not rely on dormitory living, but keep an apartment in the area of the school. This can be problematic in a city or region with high rents. Geographic location and setting must therefore still play a role in selecting a graduate school.
While certain parts of campus life will no longer affect a graduate student, socialization and an appropriate number of activities and organizations will still greatly benefit a student working towards a graduate degree. For example, literary or writer’s groups can be of benefit to a wide range of graduate students.
More important to a graduate student on a college search is the student diversity in the school. The most significant issue will be around the number of students working towards the same degree level. It is very encouraging for graduate students to have access and support from others in the same situation as themselves.
Finally, it is critical for a successful graduate experience that a school offers a comprehensive and specialized degree program in their chosen field. This can be properly assessed during the earliest phases of the admissions process when the student asks the admissions officer detailed questions about the programs the school is offering. Many students will also seek recommendations and advice on a college search from their Bachelor’s level professors and instructors.