Choose a Final School
After a lifetime’s worth of academic preparation and a rigorous application process, you have received one or more letters of acceptance from graduate programs to which you have applied.
Your hard work has paid off.
You have been accepted.
At this point, there are a few final decisions to make, and the stakes could be quite high in terms of financial costs and time commitments. It is important to assess your best options cautiously and critically before moving forward.
Make a Choice
Clarifying Your Values
When you are in the position of having to choose between multiple programs, consider the following differences among your final options.
Course of Study and Curriculum
Will you learn what you need to learn for your profession? Does the coursework excite you and sound engaging? (Research the coursework required to obtain your graduate degree.)
Do the programs vary in terms of length of time needed to complete them? Which time frames work best for you?
How much will the program cost? More importantly, how much will the entire experience cost, including your outside expenses, such as housing, food, transportation, and health insurance?
If research is a core component of your program, what kind of support do you receive from the program in terms of funding opportunities, research facilities, or other sources of support? What opportunities are there to teach?
What specific faculty will you have access to, in terms of both classroom exposure and research opportunities? Who will be your advisor and mentor?
Relevant Campus Resources and Support
How much help does the program provide to you in terms of curricular and extracurricular support? If and when something goes wrong, is it clear where you can turn for help? Do you feel set up to succeed, or do you feel set up to “sink-or-swim”?
What else is available to you outside of the classroom? Does the program offer internship opportunities, non-academic research opportunities, or formal professional mentoring?
Campus Culture and Lifestyle
What is the lifestyle of the community in which you will live? Can you find like-minded individuals? Can you find dissimilarly-minded individuals that will engage you in your own personal growth? What type of life could you lead outside of school? Could you enjoy your hobbies and extracurricular interests in this environment?
Region and Location
Do you want to live there? Be honest with yourself. Is the distance, location, weather, and lifestyle appealing to you?
Few places in the world are as temperate as Santa Barbara, so make sure you are well aware of what the weather will be like all year round at the graduate institution in question. Hotter or colder is not necessarily bad, but it might be different than what you are used to. Make sure you account for this.
Committing to a Program
Eventually, you will need to make a decision. Will you commit to a program to attend for your graduate studies? If so, submit your intent to register, which often involves paying a deposit for your tuition.
This can be an exciting but also uncertain time in your developing career. If you are feeling that you would like to discuss this further with a professional, reach out to us at Career Services.