Selecting a Graduate School
Once you’re certain that graduate school fits into your career and life plans, you need to find out as much as possible about the program you have in mind. Early in your junior year, begin to explore schools offering the type of program you want.
A common concern deals with which institution has the "best" program. There is no single reliable ranking of graduate schools. National rankings do exist; however, each is based on different criteria. It is much more meaningful to talk to faculty in your field about programs that match your interests.
While actual rankings may be somewhat misleading, comparative information about various programs is readily available. As you attempt to gain an overview of the many graduate and professional school programs available, you may want to consult the various guides to graduate schools. They are available in the Counseling and Career Development Center and in the University Libraries.
Review Graduate Catalogs
Most institution's catalogs are available for review online, or you may request catalogs directly from the Admissions Office of the universities you are considering. Additionally, a collection of resources for graduate opportunities is available at the GVSU Counseling and Career Development Center's Career Library.
World Wide Web
Most universities—and many individual departments—have a Web site, complete with listings of faculty, their interests, and selected publications as well as schedules of lecture series and special events. Start your search via Google by typing in the program area that interests you. Be sure to explore the links in Helpful Links and Grad School Web Resources.
Visit the Campus
Perhaps nothing can help you get a better perspective than an actual campus visit. There you'll have a chance to observe the following: Do students and faculty interact productively? Are faculty members easily accessible? Do the school, campus and community satisfy your lifestyle and extracurricular needs?
Talk to Current Students
The Admissions Office can arrange meetings or provide phone numbers if a campus visit is not possible. Beyond basic questions, you'll want to determine responsiveness to student opinions and concerns. Do students serve on committees? How well, and by what means, are students informed of academic, administrative and social matters?
Does this program offer teaching opportunities (i.e., TAs)?
Reproduced and adapted with permission from Sarah Lawrence College's Graduate School Guide.
Page last modified January 19, 2009