Ah, the final decision. After all this time spent composing, sending, and waiting, every school you applied to has gotten back to you. But now comes the hardest part of the process-- making the decision as to which school to attend for the next few years. Though this can be tricky, there some tips you can utilize in your decision.
1) Look at the housing
No matter where you go, you will always need an apartment or house to call home. As you decide which school to go to, it's vitally important to keep in mind how much it costs to live in different areas around the school itself. Some towns have a higher cost of living than others, and in the case of one of my own options for grad school, apartments are a bit more expensive due to the high demand for housing. Unlike undergrad, you most likely don't have the option of on-campus housing, so it's important that your school has housing that you can happily afford.
2) What's nearby?
After talking with current students at one of my options for grad school, they made a point of discussing what was around the school and what there was to do in the nearby city. That got me thinking about how important it is to know what's around your potential university. This can go from places to hang out with friends, what grocery stores are nearby, or if there's even public transportation. How far would you have to drive to get to the nearest shops or gym? You won't spend all your time at school, so it's important to know what else there is to do and how accessible said activities are.
3) What extracurriculars does the school offer?
When a faculty member from one of my potential grad schools asked me what's important to me in a school, my mind immediately went to classes offered, not hobbies or extracurricular activities. I told her about what I enjoy doing in my free time, such as playing my violin, and we started discussing musical opportunities at the school. Just like how you'll want to go places other than the school, you'll want to do things with other students at the school. Looking into what outside-of-class activities are offered at your candidates may prove beneficial, as if you have certain passions, you might consider them necessary in your future school.
When finally deciding on what grad school to attend, it's important to consider every single aspect of school and life that's important to you. What do you do with your friends in undergrad? Do you have certain activities you can't live without doing? Are there experiences you want to try that certain schools offer? Can you access important places easily? Can you afford living there? Think and re-think about these types of questions, and even think about them maybe one more time before you accept your favorite school.
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