The decision to go to graduate school is one of the biggest decisions you can make towards your career, and to achieve the fullest potential it is critical that you select the right graduate school for both your personal needs and for your program. If you have already started the process, you may be feeling inundated with information from dozens of schools, all promising that they offer the best program, have the best reputation, and can provide attractive financial aid options that are designed to help you on your way to success (sound familiar?). But salesmanship aside, although these considerations are important, there are also other criteria that should be factored in to your selection of the right graduate school:
1: Look for schools with a strong reputation for overall excellence and for excellence in your chosen field.
How is the school ranked in relation to its peers? Has it received any significant third party accolades? What do the industry related trade publications say about your school and your selected graduate program?
2: A distance learning venue that is supportive for working adults.
You’ll need the flexibility to attend class on your timetable. As a working professional, possibly a working parent, that means the capability to log in after hours. The same goes if you are currently serving in the military you never know what your day is going to bring; you may be studying from the other side of the world! For working adults, the right graduate school understands and supports these scenarios, and awards online studies degrees that are the same as those earned on campus.
3: Who are some notable alumni?
An accredited school that boasts alumni comprised of industry leaders, CEO’s, and individuals who continually strive for excellence speaks volumes about the caliber of the institution. For example, if you are pursuing a graduate degree in Project Management, the right graduate school for you would likely have a strong IT Department with notable alumni. During your interview with the school, don’t hesitate to ask the admissions representative for some examples of alumni that have gone on to greatness! Confidence in your selection of graduate school and your program of study comes with the knowledge that you are following in the footsteps of our country’s leaders in industry, business, and technology.
4: If you are currently in the military, what happens if you are deployed?
This is a realistic consideration, as anyone in the military can attest. The right graduate school for service men and women has portability, allowing for seamless transfer from a land based program to the virtual classroom.
5: What financial aid options are available?
Although most working adults (and the military) receive tuition assistance, it is important to know how you are going to finance your graduate program before you commence your studies. Does your school have strategies such as payment plans? How many credits must you be taking to be eligible for financial aid?
These tips will help you select the right graduate school for your unique situation. Remember, don’t get discouraged and give up! Graduate school is not easy, but the future rewards far outweigh the challenges.
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