5 Factors to Consider When Picking a Graduate or Professional School

For all my fellow soon-to-be graduates, congratulations! You’ve worked hard and you’re almost done. However, if you plan on attending more school past undergraduate, you may be getting nervous about how to choose what grad/professional school to go to. Do not fear, I am dealing with it, too. You probably have a top choice and a not-so-top choice (I know I do). Check out this list of important factors to make sure you consider before making any seat deposit!

  1. 1. Location, Location, Location

    If you hate the cold, going to grad school in Alaska would probably be ill-advised. Think about where you want to live — is it an urban or rural environment? Do you need a car in the area you’re going to be? Is it somewhere you’d be happy if you stayed there a bit after graduation? Think about where you would ideally live and find somewhere with similar temperatures, environments and culture that you could see yourself in. Loving a school is great, but when you can’t step foot outside without feeling uncomfortable, maybe it's time to reconsider.

  2. 2. Distance From Loved Ones

    Photo Of Person Driving

    While tying into number one, I do feel that this is so important to me that it had to be its own separate consideration. Depending on where you attend for your continued education, your family and friends may be anywhere from under the same roof to across the globe. While I don’t think choosing a school because your best friend is going there is the best idea, it is important to consider how far you’re willing to be from loved ones. Is going to a city all by yourself — where you'll start out knowing no one — going to take a toll on your mental health? Do you want to be able to go home any time you want? Are you prepared for the possibility of missing important family milestones because you’re too far to attend? If you want to be close to your loved ones, don’t choose a school 10,000 miles from home. 

  3. 3. Curriculum (& Other Aspects) of the Program

    Obviously, the main reason you’re heading off to grad school in the first place is to learn something. It would be much more beneficial to find a curriculum that you are happy with and can apply to what you want to do. It would be perfect if the classes are exactly what you want, and they have glowing reviews. Outside the curriculum, it’s important to understand what kind of program you’re signing up for. Is it part-time or full-time? Do they find jobs for you post-graduation? If not, check out their employment information — how many people have jobs in that field after graduation? Figuring out the curriculum and all that ties into the program you’re interested in will give you a better understanding of whether this is the school for you. 

  4. 4. Extracurriculars

    Is there a volunteer organization that has had your heart since you heard about it or a club, you’d give up all your free time for? Check out if the graduate school you’re considering has any of these available! I’ve been in Her Campus at UCF since freshman year, so a law school that would allow me to continue involvement in the club I love is a definite bonus to me. Look for organizations you would want to intern or volunteer with or other activities that could boost your resume. For example, Mock Trial and Moot Court are popular ones for law school. 

  5. 5. Cost

    Kellyn Simpkin-Girl Holding Money

    Of course, we have to address the elephant in the room. Any graduate or professional schooling you pursue will likely cost a small fortune, unless you are fortunate enough to receive a large scholarship. If not, then cost is an important factor in determining whether a certain school is right for you. This goes in terms of how much the program itself costs and the price of living in the city the school is located in. The University of Miami has amazing continuing education opportunities, but the cost of living in Miami is so high, it might make it out of the question for some. You may choose to follow the money and attend a school that offers you a significant scholarship or make the decision to take on six-figure debt. It’s up to you, but understand what impact that decision has, both short and long term. Do your research and start counting your change now! 

Good luck with everything, my fellow soon-to-be grads. You’re going to do amazing things. I know this is a scary time, but we will all make it through. Keep your head up and remember that this feeling of uneasiness is only temporary. Stay calm and charge on!