The ‘perfect’ fit

This list of grad school questions was created by Christina Wygant, a PhD. candidate in English at the University of Washington. She is a wonderful instructor, mentor, and editor. She helped me get into grad school by sharing her application experiences and editing my statement of purpose. Basically, she rocks!

Things to consider on how to find the ‘perfect’ fit:

1. Can you see yourself living there for 2 or more years?
2. Are you comfortable with the weather, the size of the school, and the size of the town?
3. Can you afford the type of living situation which makes you most comfortable?
4. Will you receive a TA or RA position from the department?  Can you afford to live on the stipend given?
5. Have you contacted current students with similar interests about their experiences there?  (In general, graduate students will be pretty honest and straightforward about their experiences).
6. Have you visited the university?  Have you met with the graduate advisor, professors in your areas of interest, and other graduate students?  Have you sat in on some classes?
7. How is the university/department ranked?
8. Is it a research I, II, or III institution?
9. What are your goals after you finish your degree(s)?  (This will determine what type of graduate experience you will have).
10. Are there professors who do the type of work in which you are most interested?
11. Do they offer certificate programs (like a minor) to other departments?
12. What are the expectations of the program for you to graduate with a Master’s or PhD?
13. When speaking with other graduate students currently enrolled in the program to which you are applying, ask if the students feel that they are supported academically (and personally) by their department/mentors.
14. Will you be guaranteed funding for all 2-6 years you will be there?  If not, is it easy to find funding elsewhere?
15. From the most recent graduating class, how many students found jobs right away?
16. Find graduate students and professors whom you trust and can speak openly with, and ask them their opinion on the various programs in which you are interested.
17. Ask professors whom you respect and admire about where they went to school.  If they were to do it all over again, which programs would interest them the most?

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