Plan Now to Get Accepted to the Right Graduate School For You

by Stacie Garlieb, Successful Impressions

Choosing a graduate school takes effective planning and execution.  Each school and program within a school will have certain requirements and timelines.  Selecting which programs will potentially meet your objectives long term is an important decision.  Since there are financial and time investment costs to each application process, taking a strategic approach will increase the chances you have applied and been accepted to the right graduate school for you.  Here are some tips on choosing a good fit for your graduate school education:

1.  Pick a geography you can live with and in.  This may seem obvious, but planning on attending Wharton because their MBA program is top-rated when you can’t stand cold weather is going to end up being a potential issue.  Consider the weather, culture, and overall geographic pros and cons for your needs.

2.   Research program content, structure, timelines, and benefits.  Find programs that fit your learning style and objective for completion.  This is especially important if you are going to school and working fulltime simultaneously.

3.   Evaluate the program’s alumni network.  Graduate programs should all have extensive alumni networks for you to tap into before graduation.  Checking out the network ahead of time with provide you with some perspective of potential post-graduation employer contacts.

4.   Determine advantages you have over other candidates.  This may include the fact that you went to undergraduate school there, research you did at that school, collaborative programs you participated in with students from their graduate programs, etc.  Identify who you know in your network that can assist you in the selection process.

5.   Understand the costs upfront.  Even if your employer is paying for the degree, it’s vital to know what will and won’t be covered.  Certain materials, lab costs, etc. may be out of pocket.  Coordinating loans or balancing personal funds to cover the costs could entail submitting documents and information to multiple places.  Knowing what will be required will help you manage the financial part of the process.

6.   Establish a timeline and tracking system for each school’s application process.  Each institution will have certain information deadlines.  Start planning now for any essays, online applications, fee submission, transcript services and testing scores that will be needed for you to be evaluated as a potential student.

Stacie Garlieb is the President of Successful Impressions, LLC which assists students and working professionals with career search processes and skills. For more information about the resources her company provides including helpful books and resources to guide you through building your resume and your job search, go to and