Graduate School – What’s in a name? | 02.18.10
A question that we receive pretty much daily from our readers is the eternal question of post-undergrad education: should I go for the “name” school?
It actually is a great question, because there are so many pieces that go into choosing the right graduate school for your advanced degree. First, there’s the question of how broad or deep do you want your graduate studies to be? There are generalized degrees like a non-targeted MBA and they go as deep as doctoral studies on the mating habits of tasmanian devils (ok, maybe that was a little random… but you get the point.) In many cases, the super-specialized degrees (like say, geobotany) are actually offered by smaller schools in very targeted locations.
After picking what you want to study, there’s the question of, “how much time can you invest in a graduate degree?” If your answer is relatively little, a part-time or online graduate degree probably is a better fit for you. However, not every graduate degree (like a lab-based science) CAN be completed online, and this should be taken into account.
Alright, so what about name and clout? I will say this: going to a “name” school, almost always at least gets the door slightly open for you. However, a company is not going to hire you just because you went to Harvard or Yale, they are going to hire you because you are bright, serious, and took the time to become a valuable asset in your chosen field.
Not to mention, the “name” schools will charge a lot more tuition just by virtue of their brand equity. They have built up this prestige, and are more than happy to siphon your hard earned money into their coffers for a piece of their legacy. If you are committed to going to a big name school, make sure you file your FAFSA on time, get as many scholarships as possible, and get a private student loan if necessary to cover any excess cost. Also, some companies offer partial or full tuition reimbursement if your degree program is related to your job, so you can check into that as well.
In the end, a “name” school can be that extra edge that gets you your dream job — but without a robust résumé of relevant experience and professional personal demeanor, it isn’t enough on its own.
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