How to Assess a Graduate School
Good morning, everyone.
I guess some of you may have already started thinking about further study overseas after graduation.
But few people would thoroughly consider all of the aspects of a graduate school before application.
The criteria I am going to talk about today can help spur your thinking about choosing a proper school.
Of course, the most important criteria will depend upon your specific needs.
But, there are also several general criteria to follow.
First guideline is reputation.
Is the graduate school considered one of the best graduate schools in the country?
Is it highly regarded in your chosen specialty?
In most cases, people would like to observe the various school rankings, but my suggestion is that the school rankings should not be considered definitely.
Rankings are useful as a very rough guide to the reputation and quality of different programs.
Most people take them, um, far too seriously when considering where to apply.
But you will have to bear in mind that the schools differ a lot in their programs, goals and atmospheres.
Even with almost the same ranking, one school will offer more related courses than another one.
The second. The second criterion lies in location of the school.
OK. Why do we need to consider location of the school?
Let me give you some reasons.
Which part of the country you would prefer to be in for three years determines the cost of your study.
Living in a big city is exciting with a lot of varieties, but it should also be expensive.
A medium-sized city located in a scenic spot can be charming but not exciting.
So do not ignore the fact that you are about to spend two or three years of your life in the graduate school you choose.
Try to spend it somewhere you will appreciate.
And the location of a school helps determine its social environment.
Schools in large cities tend not to foster the degree of social bonding among classmates that schools in small towns do, largely due to the lack of other entertainment options in the latter.
The third thing to consider is safety.
Related to a location issue is the question of safety.
Be sure that the school environment is and feels safe. In assessing safety, make sure you see the school and its environment where students spend their time and do not assume, uh, that would appear safe at noon will also be safe at midnight.
Discuss the matter with school officials and also discuss your concerns with students who are already studying there, most like you.
Now the next factor to consider is school facilities and housing.
Check to be sure that the library and computer facilities are top-notch.
In particular, note whether they are comfortable for long-hour work efforts.
Housing can be a major concern, especially in your first year.
Look at the school dorms and apartments, but also examine the price and availability of off-campus housing.
Note what transportation options you will have and also their safety implications.
Finally, mission is a major factor as well.
Schools vary in the extent to which they wish to educate their graduate students.
There might be differences between programs that require students to be generalists and those that train specialists.
These differences can have a major effect upon your fit with the program and the students who have chosen to attend it.
Okay. Today we have discussed some general principles on how to choose a graduate school.
I hope the information will be useful to you when you apply for graduate schools.