From my experience talking to international students, the first thing that I have seen most of the students ask someone when they plan on applying schools is “Can you send me the list of Top ranked US universities for this program ?” . The reality is, except few, most of the students just blindly look for rankings…That’s a very bad way to look at a school when you are applying to graduate program. Let me share some of my thoughts.
US University Rankings vs Graduate Program ? Student Psychology ?
Most of you know the popular US graduate school rankings are from USNews.com…students just go to the website or buy the rankings report and start applying ….Student psychology is such that, as soon as they see that a University is highly ranked, it is perceived that it is the best school for their program or research, etc…Rankings are very tricky. Though they give you some benchmark, they can be very misleading. A university can be number one in rankings for certain degree, but may not be the best for your program. It may not have the research expertise for your interest. As I mentioned in article: what are your goals for MS in US, research is very critical for MS…you are trying to be an expert in that area by getting MS.…Anyways, do not be carried away by rankings. What you have to look for is the graduate program and How does it compare with other programs and research.
What to look in Graduate program – MS or MBA ?
When you compare schools, you want to benchmark different universities based on variety of aspects like
- How is the program designed ?
- What are the core classes ?
- what are your options for emphasis ?
- What is the core focus of research at school ?
- Do they have enough professors for research in your field ?
- Do they have a special center or research lab for your area of interest ?
- Does the school offer PhD in the research area you are looking for ?
- What kind of research grants does the school have ? Do they have options for Research assistantships in your interested field ?
I can keep on writing, the overall goal is to make sure you like the program and you get enough options to get expertise in your area of interest.
What to look in University apart from Program? College Athletics, Location ?
Apart from the above questions, you may really want to look at many things like below and benchmark the schools.
- How are the athletics in school ?
- Does the school have a Football team (American Football) ? Having a football team and going to game is so much fun. It is a celebration. Where do they stand in Football ?
- What is the size of school ? Do they fall under Division one or Division two ?
- How active is the campus life ? Student life on campus ?
- Is the school situated in good city for Internships ?
- How is the city life ?
- How safe is the city or town ?
- Opportunities for Jobs after graduation ?
Overall, the point I am trying to make is, do not just get carried away by rankings…look at the things that are more important like your program and your overall college experience.
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