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Choosing a Graduate School. 2007 SPGRE Program Presentation Roy Charles and Stephanie Galloway. Overview. Why graduate school? Choosing a field of study Finding the right school for you Weighing offers Decision time. Why Graduate School ? ( Pick One! There are plenty of reasons ).

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choosing a graduate school

Choosinga Graduate School

2007 SPGRE Program Presentation

Roy Charles and Stephanie Galloway

overview
Overview
  • Why graduate school?
  • Choosing a field of study
  • Finding the right school for you
  • Weighing offers
  • Decision time
why graduate school pick one there are plenty of reasons
Why Graduate School ?(Pick One! There are plenty of reasons)
  • The opportunity to do something you love at a level that few do.
  • Need for trained individuals with diverse perspectives in the Academe, Research, Private and Public Sectors.
  • Make a difference – Bring your expertise to Grassroots efforts (Research (areas, populations, etc. often overlooked), Not-for-Profit Orgs, Public Policy, etc.))
  • Options (research, teaching (k-12, higher ed, etc.), consulting, policymaker, lobbyist,…)
  • Those that can…MUST!

choosing a field of study
Choosing a Field of Study
  • Do you know what you want to do?
      • Have you done YOUR research?
        • Reading (Professional Journals, search WWW, Newspaper, etc.)
        • Conversations with practicing professionals and others “in the know”
        • Creating resources when there are few or none--NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK!)
        • Attend conferences
        • Research Programs! Get experience.
  • Passion
      • You are going to have to love it! So choose carefully
      • This needs to be for YOU!
  • Beware of the indecisiveness/ambiguity trap
      • “Well I like so many things I don’t know what to choose, so I am going to wait a little longer till I figure it out.”
      • There are programs that will offer a chance to explore (Inter-disciplinary programs)
      • Consider Masters Programs as a way to focus
      • Pick what you like the most and pursue that…Once you become and expert in one thing, you will know how to become and expert in something else
finding the right school for you
Finding the right school for you
  • Identifying Options (Gathering Information and Resources)
    • The Rankings (Internet, Magazines and Periodicals)
      • http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/rankindex_brief.php
      • http://www.phds.org/graduate-school/graduate-school-listings-and-rankings/
      • NOTE! The top ranked school may not be YOUR top ranked school!
        • Look at specialization areas
        • Be realistic, but not overly conservative in your choices
      • Check out PhDs.org ‘s customizable ranking database! at

http://graduate-school.phds.org/

    • The Internet (school websites, faculty websites, faculty coordinator etc.)
    • People (Mentors, Advisors, Faculty, Staff, Peers, Family, and Friends)

AND their NETWORKS

Who do they know?

Whose work do the respect, find interesting?

Where did they go to school/earn their Doctorate?

Who did they work with?

How did they like the program?

What do they consider top programs in “your” specialized area

    • Professional Journals (who is publishing in your area of interest?)
finding the right school for you1
Finding the right school for you
  • Doing the Legwork
    • Talk to people! (In-person, Phone, Email)
      • In your personal and extended networks (ask people who they know)
      • Potential faculty you have identified (referred and cold contacts)
        • Be prepared (know something about who you are contacting: articles, bio, etc.)
      • Graduate Students at schools and in research groups of interest
      • Visit schools formally or informally
examples of contact correspondence
Referred Contact(most likely preceded by a phone call by your referrer)

Dear Dr. X,

I am contacting regarding my potential entrance into the graduate program at <university>, and the possibility of conducting research in your lab.

Mr/Mrs/Dr Y has been kind enough to share with me your information given my interest and their belief that I would be a good match for your research group.

I have taken the liberty of reviewing some of the more recent articles published by your research group and find that the topic of <enter topic> is particularly interesting. I have conducted research in a similar area and would enjoy speaking with you, at your convenience. If you have limited time and feel it would be better for me to speak with someone in your research group, I would like that opportunity.

I hope that we will be able to discuss the possibilities mentioned, as your research and the institution at which you work are both very appealing to me for my graduate studies.

My contact information is as follows, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Name

Phone (make sure you vmail is professional!)

Professional Email (again, do not send nor receive emails [email protected] !)

Sincerely,

<Your Name>

Cold Contact (People you don’t know or have a common contact via networks)

Dear Dr. X,

I am contacting regarding my potential entrance into the graduate program at <university>, and the possibility of conducting research in your lab.

I have taken the liberty of reviewing some of the more recent articles published by your research group and find that the topic of <enter topic> is particularly interesting. I have conducted research in a similar area and would enjoy speaking with you, at your convenience. If you have limited time and feel it would be better for me to speak with someone in your research group, I would like that opportunity.

I hope that we will be able to discuss the possibilities mentioned, as your research and the institution at which you work are both very appealing to me for my graduate studies.

My contact information is as follows, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Name

Phone (make sure you vmail is professional!)

Email (again, do not send nor receive emails at [email protected] !)

Sincerely,

<Your Name>

Examples of Contact Correspondence

These are examples! Do not use them like a form letter.

Take the concept and make it your own!

decision time managing information narrowing the choices
Decision Time --Managing information & Narrowing the choices
  • Recommendation: Use MS Excel to manage information.
    • Create a spreadsheet with all important demographic (name, url, location, etc.), deadline, contact (s) information, and personal ranking
  • Narrowing Choices - what are some priorities?
    • Interest Match (What do you want to study and how it matches with the school and faculty)
    • Quality of Program
    • Support System (You can never overvalue having people you know will look out for you once you are at the institution!)
    • Demographics (ratios, geography, M/F, etc…)
    • After Acceptance : Funding package
  • Making a Decision
    • Weigh the information gathered, your priorities, and the funding package (just be careful, more money now, does not mean more money later!)
    • Talk to people
    • Weigh everything again in addition to what others have said, BUT ultimately the choice is yours!
stop worrying there are no well very few bad choices
Stop Worrying – There are NO (well very few) Bad Choices
  • Your choice to purse and advanced degree will reward you over and over again during the course of your life!
  • Outside of choosing schools that are not appropriate matches for your interests, do not have multiple faculty that you could possible work with (in case your initial match does not work out) , and/or do not have any support infrastructure for you to occasionally lean on…There are NO bad choices!
  • You are all capable scholars-to-be and if you are honest about your passions, needs, and commitment, you will achieve this goal!
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