Many schools have admit days for their Master’s and PhD programs. These events are a great opportunity to learn more about the program, see the campus in person and meet faculty and current students. You will also have the chance to spend time with other students who have been admitted to the same programs as you.
Take a tour of campus
Admit days usually include a custom tour of campus, tailored to the program you are considering. This will give you an overview of the resources and facilities available to you. Besides seeing academic centers and resources, you can also check out graduate housing and other places such as the student center or recreational buildings. Attending a university as a graduate student is a much different experience than you have had as an undergrad, and it’s important to think about the campus from a different perspective.
[Read more: Questions you should be asking about graduate school]
Hear from current students in the program
Most schools will have current student involvement from lunches, panels or even hosts for bar crawls or dinners off campus. Students are a great source for details about the program and can be more forthcoming than faculty or staff. It’s important to ask them about what they like and don’t like about the program. Ask about the social life both on and off campus and work/life balance. Inquire about their research projects and the resources available to them to help support their research.
Learn more about the program
Faculty that teach graduate school courses will typically explain the curriculum in more detail and can answers questions about the skills and expertise you will receive during the program. You will learn about mentorship, research or internship opportunities available to you during the program. As a graduate student you will be likely have more interaction with faculty through research projects and smaller class sizes. If you are considering a PhD program or research based masters degree, be sure there are at least 1-2 professors you can see yourself working with during your time there.
Find out about financial aid
This process can be confusing and overwhelming and being able to speak to someone in person about the process can alleviate some of that stress. Staff from the financial aid office will offer information on the funding available and the timeline for submitting applications for federal aid. If you are receiving your PhD you will likely be told about the teaching and research assistantship requirements for you to receive tuition support.
[Read more: Financing your graduate degree]
Check out the local community
Remember you will be living in this place for the next 2-5 years so be sure to learn about the community and think about what is important to you. Some students want to be in a fast paced city, others prefer a more rural environment. Is public transportation good? Is the community diverse? Is it expensive to live here? These types of questions will help you decide whether this school is a good match for you both academically and personally.
Learn about job placement
Career services will give you information about job placement statistics for your program. This usually includes what industries graduates work in, their job title, the name of their company and possibly starting salaries. This will give you a sense of what companies recruit on campus and what type of jobs you will be prepared to apply for after you graduate. You want to see a high percentage of students receiving job offers within 3-6 months of graduation.
As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.