There are hundreds of graduate programs in the U.S. and elsewhere. How do you get information to help discover what's the right school for you? Here are some ways to get started on the path to finding the best graduate school for you. Information is key!
- Talk to your advisor or other faculty. Any professor who has been at her job for even a few years has helped other students get through the grad school search. Your advisor or another faculty member can therefore be a good person to consult about graduate schools. This is especially true if you are applying to study the same field as your advisor or professor in your department: She may be an alum of a school offering the exact program of study for which you're looking. Or she will have contacts with other people in the field who can share their experiences at certain schools. If you aren't currently in college, don't hesitate to pick up the phone and call an old professor to make an appointment to speak with her. She will likely be interested in helping you as you move ahead in the field.
- Talk to your college's career services department. That's what they're there for: To help you as you take the next step on your career path. They will likely have all sorts of information about a variety of graduate programs. They may also have individual career advisors who can help you with the information search. If you aren't currently at college, use your alumni privileges and set up an appointment with career services.
- Check specialized websites. To get grad school information, check with websites like U.S. News Grad School Rankings. Online sources do a variety of things like rank schools against each other, help you pinpoint where you can find certain specialties, and provide contact information for grad school admissions offices. These informational sites can be a good clearinghouse of facts and addresses when you begin your search for grad school information. From here, you may begin to narrow down your search.
- Check with the graduate schools themselves. Once you figure out which colleges and universities have the program you're looking for, look into the specifics by contacting the schools themselves. Check out their websites, make appointments to see faculty, talk to present students and ask for information from the admissions department. These sources will provide you with information from all angles, including facts, figures, course catalogs, application requirements, and real-life experiences. So, don't hesitate to go to the source when looking for grad school information.
- Talk to professionals in your field. If you want to become the next great art historian and wonder what program can put you on that track, contact a local art history society or someone working in the field and ask for professional advice. People who are working in a discipline usually know very well where the best graduate programs in that discipline are. They can also share their own experiences with different graduate programs. Don't overlook people who have already been through the process.
With so much information out there, it might be tough to know where to start. But by checking with some sources readily available and by reaching out to the schools you might like to attend, getting information for graduate school doesn't have to be that difficult. Persevere and you will find the right grad school for you.