Making Sure the Shoe FITS When Applying to Graduate Schools

By GSC Member-at -Large for Undergraduate Affairs Katy Krieger

As undergrads, you often hear graduate students and even professors discuss “fit” when it comes to finding a graduate program that will work for you. But what does “fit” mean exactly? Here are some things to think about when applying and selecting potential programs in terms of fit.

  1. Does the program have the research you want to be doing? Remember, you are dedicating years to reading and researching these subjects, so, make them count.
  2. Does the program support your future goals once you receive that Ph.D.? Do they spend time prepping you with internships, research, or even teaching experience?
  3. Does the program offer support that you may need? This could be anything from time flexibility if you are a parent to medical support in the form of a good student health center and insurance benefits. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions (once you’ve got your foot in the door and they want you to attend their graduate school, of course).
  4. Does the program reside in a location that you can see yourself spending time in? If you are a big city person and need the hustle and bustle around you, don’t attempt to ignore that and live in a smaller place that feels isolated or empty.
  5. Does the faculty and graduate student environment suit you? Can you see yourself being around these people and interacting with them each day?
  6. Does your potential faculty advisor have the same philosophies about research and teaching? Some other things to consider are the mentor-mentee relationship style and the communication process your potential advisor prefers.

Graduate school is a huge step! You always want to be prepared when making such a big decision. So, take some precautionary steps and truly think about the whole package when it comes to applying and even accepting a position within a graduate program.