It feels so surreal that this fall is the first time I won’t be a student anymore. I graduated from Villanova University’s Master of Public Administration Program this past May. It was a great experience and I feel blessed to have had the graduate school experience I had.
I’ve been reflecting on the things I’ve learned during this time and thinking about what I would have done differently – but I don’t think there is anything! Today, I’ll be sharing with you things to know before applying to graduate schools.
If you are looking into attending graduate school these are some of things you need to know.
1. What colleges are best for your program
Do your research when it comes to what colleges you want to apply to. Look into things like ranking of the program, courses that are offered, professors that work there, etc. Make sure you are choosing a program that is well suited for what you are looking for.
U.S. News is a great source for finding rankings of schools and specific programs. I used this when beginning my search for potential grad schools.
2. What funding is available
When applying for grad school I looked into if they offer graduate assistantships or tuition scholarships. Sometimes they are called different things, but tuition is waived for working on campus, being a research assistant to a professor, or conducting research for the college.
If you are employed, find out if they assist with the cost of grad school. Most employers offer tuition reimbursement so this is something to look into. You’ll want to find out if there are any restrictions with this as well.
Before applying you want to know what cost will be involved with the degree.
3. Ask for an informational interview/ courses offered/structure
After I researched colleges that had the program that I was looking for, I reached out to the program directors to set up an informational interview. This helped my process so I could better understand what each program had to offer.
By doing this I got a sense of what the program was like and helped me make an informed decision when it came to deciding which colleges to apply to. It also helped for the program directors to get to know me on more of a personal level before submitting my applicaiton.
I can’t recommend this enough if you are narrowing your search down!
4. If the master’s degree will make a positive impact on your career
A graduate degree is an advanced degree typically used for moving up in your current career or switching fields. Understand what you are getting the degree for and if it will make a substantial difference in where you are going with your career.
It’s a good idea to ask yourself why you want the degree. This can help you better understand if it will help you move further in your career or provide you with a career change that you are looking for.
5. Research the faculty and alumni
The faculty and alumni are ultimately the best networking opportunity you will have in grad school. Attending a school with a strong alumni foundation can set you up for success.
I can vouch for this with the faculty as well. I wouldn’t be in the career I’m in today if it wasn’t for the guidance and networking opportunity my professor helped me with.