We couldn’t do our national survey of current graduate students without asking our respondents to reflect on their grad school search experience and to give some advice to the next generation of grad students on how to choose the right graduate school.
Nearly half of our respondents indicate that knowing what they know now, they would change the way they researched grad schools. And while the majority of our sample is satisfied in their current grad program, a quarter of our respondents indicate they wish they had chosen a different grad school/program or decided not to pursue a graduate degree at all.
So with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, what do current graduate students recommend to prospective students for choosing the right graduate school?
Our respondents indicate that in addition to spending time researching program/school websites, the following three things are the most critical to choosing the BEST grad school for you:
- Contact program faculty/staff
82% of the current graduate students surveyed indicated that communicating directly with program administrators or program faculty would have improved their ability to make an informed decision about graduate school and prospective graduate programs. Grad students indicate these interactions were not only influential in deciding which programs to apply to but also affected their final decision of which program to attend.
- Contact current/former graduate students
While many prospective grad students consider communicating with program faculty far fewer reach out to current/former grad students at programs they are interested in. This is a mistake! Current and former graduate students may be the best resource for determining which faculty to consider working with, understanding the academic/social environment and even for getting tips/suggestions on how to make your application stand out!
This is likely why nearly 90% of our respondents indicated that communicating directly with current or former graduate students would have improved their ability to make an informed decision about graduate school and prospective graduate programs.
- Seek advice from academic professors/mentors
Lastly, our respondents suggest seeking advice from academic professors/mentors. Tapping into these resources would be a great way to learn about a program or a field you know little about. And while our respondents do recommend seeking advice from professors and/or mentors from your undergrad institution, less than a third of students found their Career Services Advisors and/or On-Campus Academic Advising Offices useful in their graduate school search.
We at Gradschoolmatch are not surprised by these responses! We have always seen the value in direct communication between prospective grad students and faculty, admins and students. That is why facilitating communication between student and program is at the core of what happens on gradschoolmatch.com.
Check out the other articles on our current graduate student survey: