Time and again, we’ve seen graduate school students use the bulk method when applying to graduate school. They search for the top 20 universities and spend the next months applying. It’s time consuming. It’s expensive.
Our method is based on a focused effort, carefully selecting a few universities that are right for you.
So how do we do it?
Career is important.
Your career goals will play a huge role in the graduate school selection process. If you’re pursuing a master’s degree to give you a professional edge, the reputation of the program and the quality of the faculty will be more important than the ideal mentor. However, in a Ph.D. program, the quality of your thesis advisor along with a few other professors (constituting your committee) will be paramount over the reputation of the program as a whole. Apply to universities that have one or more professors conducting research in your area of interest, while envisioning a working relationship (and potentially a personal relationship as well) for over 4 years.
Divide and conquer.
Sort grad schools into three main categories: acceptance is almost guaranteed (place 2 schools here), acceptance is possible with a fighting chance (place 2 more universities here) and acceptance is out-of-reach (place 1 university here). This ensures at least 2 guaranteed acceptances (your backups), while having 3 better options available.
Get connected with the first level graduate school experts.
Conversations with potential future advisors will give you insights into the program and the dynamics of the department. They will provide you with the real scoop. Additionally, these personal connections will bring notice to your application in the right eyes and will only strengthen it.
Connect with the second level too.
I’ve classified the graduate school students currently studying in the department or with the advisor you’re interested in as the second level. Answers to questions like “Do they enjoy working with their professors?”, “Has enough guidance and opportunity been provided to develop their own research ideas?”, or “What are the positives and negatives of the department?”
Check to make sure that the program and university as a whole has adequate facilities and resources for your particular needs. This could include labs, libraries, grants, teaching assistantships, and summer fellowships.
Finally, remember to peruse the graduate catalogue. As a Ph.D. student, you’ll want to make sure classes offered are relevant to your interests and will complement your research while understanding the requirements your Ph.D. program has placed on you.
Need help picking out 5 universities that will be the right fit for your talents? Get started right away by learning about PPC’s packages here.