10 Tips for Your Grad School Search: From a Former Admissions Rep

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Hi Everyone!

It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve posted anything. I have been so busy with my new job and school. But I am currently on a plane to Toronto (my first Page Academy training with Michael Page). This is a post I have been meaning to do since my IG takeover with MBA Chic, but I haven’t got around to writing it.

The scariest part of grad school is the initial search, in my opinion. The work its self is fine, well as good as it is going to be. Once you’re in its just the craziness of work and balancing your schedule. Before you know it, you’re done! I feel like it’s never going to end but I should be done February 2020 if I stay on the path I’m on.

If you just started following me, prior to being a Recruiter for Michael Page, I was an Admissions Representative for my Alma Mater, Bay State College. This came in so handy when I was going through my Grad School Search because I knew exactly what questions to ask. It is easy to get caught up in “stats” and reputations of the schools, but what school fits your values and how you want your program structured? You ask the general questions for these things but not everything you should be asking. I have also heard from so many people that schools were sold to them and ended up not being what they expected. I hope this post will be helpful for some of you going through the process!

  1. Define your “must have” parameters

I’m sure you all have a checklist of what you must have in a program, if you don’t, you need to make one. You really need to go through and figure out what is a must and what would be a perk. For example, I needed a Program that was affordable as I was paying out of pocket, it needed to be accredited, and I needed 100% online with no scheduled class commitment. No scheduled class commitment means I do not have to log on at a specific time each week to attend class, I basically teach myself by readings and case studies and need to keep up with deadlines. My life is way too crazy for me to be able to be on the computer at 5:30 on Monday every week to attend an online class. My undergrad is in business so I know a lot of the information I am learning. You really need to define what type of program works best for you, but also the attention you think you will need going through it.

  1. Look into your program’s accreditation!

Each program is different and each degree requirement is different. Depending on what licenses are required for the line of work you want to go into, different types of accreditation is required. I may want to go onto my doctorate, so I needed to make sure my degree was from an institution that had authorization to give me an MBA. The easiest example I can give is for nursing programs. For a Nursing student to sit for their RN license, they must attend a school that has an accredited program, meaning they meet proper guidelines to teach.

  1. Go to open houses

This is the best place for you to ask questions, and hear other people ask questions you may not have thought about. Also, a lot of times you can sit in a school and see if you liked the classroom. I went to a few, luckily, I live in Boston so there are millions around me. My favorite one I went to was Northeastern. They were so thorough and you were able to sit in sessions for ALL of the types of grad programs they have – on campus, weekend, online, evening. If you don’t have any near you, most schools if they offer online programs you are interested in have online seminars.

  1. Talk to your Admissions Rep

They are trained professionals and can answer questions that your family and friends cannot. In the US, there are such strict guidelines with what they can and cannot say to you. So, for the most part, they are telling you how it is. Do not be afraid to ask about concerns you have. If you want to know what the thing is most students struggle with in this program, they will tell you. It HURTS a school if you drop out because you are not expecting what is thrown at you. They do not want that. With my school it was managing your time, they were very straightforward with me regarding what to expect.

  1. FILL OUT YOUR FAFSA!!!!

You will prob get nothing, but you could potentially still have some eligibility for federal loans and the interest rates on those are so much lower than private. Also, it is free and much easier to fill out now than it was back in the day. You never know if you have borrowing money left over. Also, your situation has changed now that you are independent from your parents.

  1. Don’t get hung up on reputation.

This was something I was pretty focused on, and in my industry for what I want to do, it doesn’t matter. I needed affordability, I will be loan free for grad school. It has been tough, but I did it – so far. I was dead set on Florida State, would have loved to go there, but it was unrealistic for me.

  1. Take the GMAT in undergrad if you can, also TAKE A PREP COURSE

I was one of the top in my class, but failed my GMAT miserably because I cannot take standardized tests. This was devastating to me because all of my top schools required pretty high scores and that was the only thing holding me back. But in the end, I found a school that didn’t require it, and I love my program. If you are nervous about it, take a prep course but for sure get all of the books you can on it and actually study! Many schools give out good scholarships for high GMAT scores. (I put way too much pressure on myself for this.)

  1. Do not rush into it

Don’t just pick a school just because you need to go, or feel like you need to. Nothing is worse than starting a program that you do not fit well in. Everyone is different and has different needs, so everyone’s school preference is different. I’m sure you remember searching and “shopping” for schools when you were in undergrad, it’s the same thing. Now you have been to college and know what you want this time around and how you are as a student, or what you want to change. Find a school that can help facilitate that.

  1. Don’t open yourself up for everyone’s opinion

Everyone is going to tell you what they think, but they are not you. Do not let people pressure you on making a decision or choosing where they want you to choose. I had great mentors as professors who helped me every step of the way, especially when I failed my GMAT, that was a huge blow. I didn’t tell many people I was taking it because I had a feeling it wouldn’t go well. I am glad I didn’t because I didn’t end up going to Florida State or UMiami like I was looking too. I didn’t have to hear everyone’s options. As a former admissions rep, I was able to help students figure out what school was best for them, whether it was Bay State or another school. Often my best conversations where when it was just myself and the student talking, not the rest of their family or “stakeholders”. There is a reason there are paid professionals out there to help people with all of their concerns and opinions.

  1. Don’t doubt yourself.

You got this far. I use to talk to students and they would try to pull out because they didn’t think they could do it. When I would ask why, it was usually just fear. You can do this! If you decide it is not right for you, that’s fine too. But never doubt yourself, just change your “must haves”. I had to adjust the type of schools I was looking for. It was a huge blow when I failed my GMAT because I knew I was more than qualified to attend the schools I wanted, and that was the only thing holding me back. There was one point where I was doubting myself wondering if I even deserved to go. I have a great support system and they slapped some sense into me. If you don’t have a support system, I will be your support system and I am sure MBA Chic will be as well!

Thank you for reading. If there is anything you have questions on or you feel I didn’t answer – feel free to reach out. I am more than happy to help anyone through this scary yet rewarding time. There are so many great resources out there, USE THEM!

XOXO

Tay

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