Graduate School: Considerations on Choosing a Program

By: Justine

If you are like me and are on the graduate school track you need to know a few things before you make your final decision on a program.  Not only are you making an extra time commitment to stay in school but going into a graduate level program carries expenses.  However, graduate school can open many more doors along your career path and is a good way to become an expert within your field of interest.  Once you have made the decision to pursue graduate school, next you have the decision of what program to pursue.  Here are some criteria that can help you find the best suited program for you!

Considerations for grad school

Location

I myself, am a Minnesotan, born and raised.  Next year I will also continue my education in the Twin Cities and I am looking forward to exploring other cities within my upcoming clinical internships at places around the country.  Deciding on location is a big factor when it comes to programs and can give you many opportunities depending on where you go.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you want be living somewhere warmer (or colder)?
  • Are you willing to make a big move?
  • Do you want to spend the next few years living there?
  • Would you want to settle down in that area after school?
  • Will out of state tuition significantly impact your financial decisions?

Cost

Since a graduate level program is often more expensive than an undergraduate degree you might need to consider your finances as part of your decision.  Consider talking with a financial aid counselor early on to find out what resources are available to you to finance your education.  Also consider applying to scholarships within your program (if available).

Program Focus

A program’s focus and goals should align with your own if you want to have a successful match in your years of continued education.  Some schools are research based which puts students right in the process of discovering new findings and applications.  Other schools might focus more on the interaction and application of knowledge.  Decide on what your main objective and experience you want to gain will be and that will help to narrow down on the programs that are right for you.

Program Affiliations

Graduate schools form relationships over the years with certain companies and organizations that can benefit you as a student.  If you are required to have internships with these companies it can often be a great budding start to a networking connection that could potentially land you a job after completion of your program.  Talk with admissions counselors at the programs you are interested in to see where past students have ended up working.

Accreditation

What type of degree you seek will affect the types of jobs you can find and the kind of salary that you earn in those jobs.  Standards are always changing for industries so make sure that you are staying on top of what the current trends are, whether certificate, masters, or doctorate level degree.  There is a lot of competition in the job market these days so you want to make sure you are putting yourself at the top of the game!

Graduate school is a huge commitment and correspondingly a lot of thought should be put into your decision before you make your final call.  Career Services has career counselors who specialize in graduate school process and they can be one of your resources for your decision making process. If you have questions, come into our office and schedule an appointment!

Read Justine’s other posts

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About ellenhatfield

New professional in the field of Student Affairs in Higher Education. I am a Career Counselor at the University of MN Duluth.

2 thoughts on “Graduate School: Considerations on Choosing a Program

  1. Pingback: Insider Tips for Applying to Graduate School Event | Peer Into Your Career

  2. Pingback: When Grad School is for You – Just Not Right Now | Peer Into Your Career

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