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4 Things to Research When Looking for Graduate Schools

So, you are thinking about earning a graduate degree. Congratulations! That is so exciting! There are many opportunities to earn a master’s or doctoral degree in a way that works for you. Of course, this is a big decision. So, what criteria should you consider when you are searching for the right college or university for you? Well, here are 4 things you definitely want to keep in mind.

#1 Accreditation

Is this an accredited institution? According to ACICS, “one of the first steps any prospective student should take before enrolling in a college or university is to verify whether or not the school is accredited by a recognized accrediting agency.” If the institution is not accredited, then any degree earned will not be as competitive. It could be indicative of a lower quality education, which is a red flag for employers. And, it is worth mentioning that “only schools that are accredited by the US Department of Education (USDE) are eligible to participate in the federal financial aid program.” So, attending an unaccredited institution likely means that you will be ineligible for standard grants.

#2 Non-Profit/For-Profit

You might think that this is not important but how a college makes and spends money is crucial to how they function. It can determine the experience and education that you receive. What does it mean exactly? First of all, according to the Online College Report, “state universities and community colleges are usually (if not always) nonprofit. Many private colleges are also nonprofit. A non-profit college or university charges you tuition. Then they spend the money you give them on educating you.” This is the model with which most of us are familiar. You pay your tuition and then you expect the money to be spent on educational services, so it is essentially an investment in yourself. For-profit colleges function differently. They are “owned and run by a private organization or corporation. A for-profit school charges you tuition, but doesn’t necessarily spend it on your education. Instead, they spend a good deal of it on marketing and recruiting.” You want to be mindful of where your hard-earned money is going.

#3 Program Rankings

Another important consideration is how well the program compares to other similar programs. These rankings speak to how well alumni perform after graduating from the institution. How well are they prepared for the workforce? This is what makes your degree valuable and competitive, so it is not a factor that should be overlooked.

#4 Graduation Rates

This is another important indicator of how good of a fit a program might be is the graduation rate. If the percentage of students graduating is low, one has to wonder why. Also, might that be predictive of the experience you would have in the program?

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