5 Tips for Choosing the Best Grad School

unemployed graduate

As you embark on a mission to find the right graduate school to take your career to new heights, there are several things you should take into consideration.

Graduate schools are more than just institutions of higher learning. Apart from producing top minds, they provide a friendly learning atmosphere to hone strategic thinking and reasoning. A decision on which grad school to join should be made after meticulous research and consulting.

Here is a comprehensive guide on how to choose the right graduate school:

1. Compare Schools

There are many grad schools offering different programs in many fields of learning. Some specialize in a handful of courses, while others deal with a wide variety of disciplines.

Due to such (and other) differences, you must be sure to toss a wide net to enjoy wide options. For instance, you can begin your search with at least 20 schools (including a couple of overseas institutions) before narrowing down to the ultimate institution.

With a little research and reading, it’ll be pretty easy to make an informed choice. Remember, don’t just settle for the ‘best’ institutions; what is best for others may not necessarily be the best for you.

2. Professors

Without the right support from skilled lecturers, your grad school certificate will just be a piece of paper. Professors act as mentors and provide the necessary inspiration to students on various career and life challenges, whenever necessary.

In the job market today most employees prefer skills to papers (for obvious reasons). Be sure to find a school that employs supportive lecturers to guide you on the right career path. Remember to factor in the aspect of compatibility in your search efforts.

3. Programs

With a wide variety of careers – business, social sciences, science, engineering, etc. in the offing, a clear mind is essential for making an informed choice.

Some institutions are known to produce top minds in sciences, yet others deliver world-class legal or engineering minds, etc. Depending on your preferred area of study (this should be governed by your passion, grades and talent), you should find an institution with the right facilities and a ‘big name in the job market‘ to start off your career on a high note.

4. Location

Your preferred graduate school’s location can have a significant bearing to your future career prospects. Ask yourself this question-is the program located in an area you would be comfortable living (and if possible, working)?

It’s pretty obvious that you’ll be living in your school’s location for a couple of years (safe for online learning programs). The choice of location should be dictated by several factors, such as your health, your family life, and the available employment opportunities.

5. The Fees

With the current hard economic times, you don’t want to dip yourself into stickier financial messes while securing an education. Be sure to research all the costs involved in securing a particular program in your preferred grad schools. Some institutions offer fee waivers to their students, so research more about your preferred school’s fee structure to get a clear picture of this before registering for a course.

The decision to enrol in grad school is what one would term ‘the first step in a long journey’, one that is full of opportunities and a fair share of challenges. Whatever the case, it’s my sincere hope that this article will come in handy in your decision making process.


Sani Golriz is a community blogger and active staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.