Here’s what one of our press releases says about gradschoolmatch.com and Decatur:
The internet startup has been developing gradschoolmatch.com quietly at what it refers to tongue-in-cheek as its “Sprawling World Headquarters” within the Fairview Building on West Ponce de Leon Ave in Decatur. Dr. Murphy explains, “Our roots are in Decatur. I’ve raised a family here. Decatur is the hometown for one of the top women’s liberal arts colleges in the world, a renowned seminary school, and smack next door to three major research universities, with even more great colleges and universities nearby. You can’t walk down a Decatur street and not bump into somebody who studies or works at one of these institutions. Decatur is probably one of the largest college towns in the world.” Decatur plays a prominent role in the technology firm’s growth plans. “The location, transit, schools, community and the festival and restaurant scenes will factor highly in our future employee recruitment strategies. Live, learn, work, play communities like Decatur make for a great quality of life and are a solid foundation to build upon,” says Mr. Clark.
And the ONLY person who can provide you that answer will be the person in the grad school program who is evaluating your application. So why not use gradschoolmatch.com, get your answer more easily, and use that to make your decisions about where to spend your application dollar? Because the alternative is to find out only after you’ve applied. This is not complicated and sometimes it is hard to be humble about our simple solution to what can be a big problem for a lot of people. If you don’t believe us, take it from the people who specialize in prepping students to achieve well on the GRE:
You can’t answer, “What’s a good GRE score?” Thankfully, you can answer, “What’s my good GRE score?” Google doesn’t have that answer (as, having found and read this entry, you might have just been disappointed to discover), but your target grad programs do. Contact them and ask what scores they’re looking for and what the benefits (if any!) of an ultra-high GRE score are. Once you have those numbers, you’ll be able to put forward an efficient study plan without wasting effort seeking unproductive score increases.
The Washington Monthly makes a case for why its own college ranking system matters:
“The Washington Monthly rankings are based on three factors. The first is social mobility, which gives colleges credit for enrolling many low-income students and helping them earn degrees. The second recognizes research production, particularly at schools whose undergraduates go on to earn PhDs. Third, we value a commitment to service. The more expensive college becomes, the more students are encouraged to see higher education as a mere return on investment. The students in our best colleges are taught by example and design to look beyond themselves and give back.”
Irrespective of the overall scope and objectives of the ranking methods, both prospective graduate students and advanced degree programs alike should find some utility, particularly in the Research categories of the rankings.
As applications to advanced degree programs are winding down, of those I’ve reviewed so far this year, I’m reminded that around 80% of the applicants routinely fail to answer the most important question on my mind as a faculty reviewer:
Why are you interested in MY program?
The only way to answer this question cogently–and never forget that your audience is a faculty member who knows a heck of a lot about his/her program and institution and has a fairly keen sense for BS– is to do a lot of homework.
First, you have to delve deeply into what the program faculty teach and research, understanding that every program offers unique expertise, even those within the same academic field. Begin this by going over descriptions of the curriculum, then reading faculty profiles, and even pulling up and reading some of their published work. You might not fully understand much of it, but it will still make some sense. Developing a dialog with some program faculty by exchanging messages and phone calls to get your questions answered can be invaluable in this discovery phase.
Second, you have to take some time and come to some decisions about what you want to learn or what research you wish to pursue while in graduate school. At a fairly specific level. Trust me, something that you read in step 1 above will resonate with you, if you are not already at that point. You will know what you like when you see it. These don’t necessarily need to be perfectly formed plans, but they have to be a lot more specific than generic platitudes. Going through this process prepares you to convince me in your application why my program can best serve your interests. Year-in and -out, applicants who make a strong case that they are a good fit for my program are those who receive offers for interviews and even admission, whereas otherwise strong applicants can be weakened significantly by doing this job poorly.
In Senate hearings, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) argued that congress is failing to provide needed oversight for $32 billion in taxpayer money “squandered” by companies that run for-profit universities.
“So, student comes in, gets a maximum Pell grant, gets a Stafford Loan. The school gets the Pell Gant, the school gets the loan, the student drops out a year later. The school has the loan, the school has the Pell grant, and the student has the debt around his or her neck. They can’t discharge for bankruptcy, and they don’t have a degree to show for it. And they are worse off then when they began.”
“Enrolling students, and getting their federal financial aid, is the heart of the business, and in 2010, the report found, the colleges studied had a total of 32,496 recruiters, compared with 3,512 career-services staff members.”
The pending legislation, supported by the Obama administration, will empower the Department of Education with new regulations linking federal dollars to a university’s ability to demonstrate acceptable graduation rates and gainful employment of their students. For these reasons and until these issues are sorted out, Gradschoolmatch.com will only accept subscriptions from accredited non-profit universities and colleges for the benefit of our student subscribers.
That is to say, we’ve arrived at something like a monoculture in biomedicine. The great majority of how we understand disease, and attempt to cure it, derives from a couple of rodents, selected—for reasons that can seem somewhat arbitrary in retrospect—from all the thousands of other mammals, tens of thousands of other vertebrates, and millions of other animal species known to walk or swim or slither the Earth. We’ve taken the mouse and the rat out of their more natural habitats, from fields and barns and sewers, and refashioned them into the ultimate proxy for ourselves—a creature tailored to, and tailored by, the university basement and the corporate research park.
The best reason to go to grad school has always been to pursue a subject of interest with deep passion. Accomplish that successfully and everything else should fall into its proper place. This applies, especially, to the oft maligned humanities:
Evidence is plentiful that stressing the range of expertise humanities graduates have makes intellectual and economic sense. Take, for example, Damon Horowitz, director of engineering at Google. He insisted recently in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Educationentitled “From Technologist to Philosopher: Why You Should Quit Your Technology Job and Get a Ph.D. in the Humanities,” that “if you are worried about your career … getting a humanities Ph.D. is not only not a danger to your employability, it is quite the opposite. I believe there no surer path to leaping dramatically forward in your career than to earn a Ph.D. in the humanities.” “You go into the humanities to pursue your intellectual passion,” he explains, “and it just so happens, as a byproduct, that you emerge as a desired commodity for industry.”