Pursing a graduate degree is not a light undertaking. It requires deep thought; a close examination of personal, professional, and academic goals; and a dose of brutal honesty. If you choose to take this mission, you will sacrifice sleep, time with loved ones, and oh…did I mention sleep? However, once you have finished (and you WILL finish), there are several benefits. If you’re lucky, you get the chance to meet wonderful people along the way.
As you can see, choosing to jump back into the higher education pool is a big decision. Becoming informed about graduate school options can become overwhelming with numerous articles, books, and blogs that talk about the “best of the best”. Adding to the madness, several ranking lists exist,…so who do you trust? Here’s my advice. First, get to know the resource you’re using. Here are some questions to ask as you browse:
Which rankings list are you using?
What measures are being used to determine scoring?
How many years has it been in circulation?
Is my field of study represented?
Are factors that I feel are important, represented in the ranking measurements?
Secondly, rankings are helpful, but they don’t tell you everything. With so much information out there, it is very easy to float in confusion. Being informed is great…being overwhelmed is not. When you feel yourself floating, step away from the computer and use other resources you have at your disposal. Go for a campus visit. Go to an academic conference. Contact a program of interest to see if you can speak with current students. Speak with current professionals in your field. Rankings serve as a great tool towards informing future scholars, parents, and curious citizens about what institutions have to offer. However, rankings are not the final say. YOU are! The question should not be, “Which institution is best?” The question to ask is, “Which institution is best for YOU?”