Deciding on Graduate School

Deciding on what graduate school to attend? Of course you want to go to the best school possible. But depending on what type of graduate education you are pursing, the definition of “best” differs.

MED SCHOOL
The best school is the one in the state where you want to work. You really should decide what state you want to practice in before applying to med school. It will be much easier to find a job if you did your internship and residency in the same state. During med school you will make valuable connections for your future.

Med students don’t need to worry quite as much about the ranking of their med school. My friend went to a lower-ranking med school, because they offered him a scholarship, and now he teaches at one of the highest ranked hospitals in the country.

Also take into consideration your learning style. Some med schools are all lecture based, but others have a more hands-on approach. Pick a school that fits with your personality.

LAW SCHOOL
The “best” schools when it comes to law school are the schools that everyone says are the best. Frankly, if you want a top government job or to become an attorney at a top firm, you must go to a top law school. The big firms heavily recruit.

ACADEMICS
If your career goals are in academics, going to a high-ranked school can help, especially in competitive fields like English.

If you are going into a research-intensive field, however, the rank of the school is not as important. You want to make sure that your major professor is the best for you. If you have a struggling or poor mentor at even the best school, you will not be successful and perhaps not even graduate. On the other hand, you might find a great mentor at a less well-known school. A great professor to work for is 1) Well-connected 2) a good mentor

How do you know the professors are successful? They will have publications in highly respected journals, and they will have lots of funding.

How do you know if the professor will be a good mentor?

1) Ask current graduate students, in private, how it is like to work for that professor. Many will be candid about professors that are down-right difficult to work with. If they seem a little cagey in their response, that’s a bad sign.

2) See how many students they have working for them. If the lab is heavy with post-docs and technicians, that means the professor might rather hire help than train graduate students.