Mastering Your Master’s: A Guide to Graduate School Visits

Written By: Mia Patterson, Account Executive

When faced with the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” most children cannot answer with a reasonable answer. Fast-forward a few years to college, and most undergraduates either know exactly what they want to be, while others are unsure of their future. With this concept in mind, it is important that everyone considers continuing their education to better themselves and to better their chances of really being able to find what it is they want to be when they grow up.

As an undergraduate just entering my senior year, I can speak first hand on the debatable issue pertaining to the one key decision one must make…job? Or graduate school? Believe me both have their positives and negatives. However, one must consider the pros v. cons very seriously. If you don’t, then there may downfalls in making the wrong decision.

For example, if you want to consider graduate school versus a job, and vice versa, here are my suggestions:

  1.  Think about what area of study you would be interested in: The biggest mistake undergraduates can make is rushing into things. We’ve had four years to decide what we wanted to do in our undergrad; you don’t have the luxury of time with regards to graduate school. You find a program that suits your needs and THEN you decide to check it out, not the other way around.
  2. Research: Do some research on the different courses offered and required by the program. Google the professors of the department and see what their research interests are because that’s how you’ll be able to dictate who you could potentially work with on your thesis.
  3. Making contact: Don’t be afraid to email someone from within the department you’re interested in. Ask them questions about the program, the department, who you need to talk to about financial aid, etc. They’ll be more than happy to help because the more inquiries about their program, generally the better their program is.
  4. Initializing a campus visit: This part is a bit tricky and can be very overwhelming. Some contacts will set up meetings for you and others will expect you to do everything on your own. Ask your contact if they can schedule some meetings with other faculty members and possibly a current graduate student within the program. Other campuses may just be more informal and expect you to schedule everything on your own (this generally comes along with the BIG campus territories). Don’t be afraid, just do more research and ask yourself what exactly it is that you are wanting to know from the people you are wanting to visit.
  5. Repeat: Repeat this process for scheduling more than one campus visit! It will help!
  6. Prepare: Remember to pack for a PROFESSIONAL day. I’m not saying you need an Evan Picone pant suit, but definitely business casual because you’re making your first impression to the faculty who need to remember your face as opposed to the other 100 students competing for the same spot.
  7. Comparing: Create a “Pros v. Cons” list immediately after each visit when everything is still fresh in your mind! This will help you later on down the line when you are filling out and submitting applications. (Scary thought huh?)

Hope this helps! But in reality, just relax and be yourself. Some people are more inclined for jobs and others are those who want to continue education. Either way, do what you want to do and what will make you happy, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

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