Every year, millions of individuals from all different backgrounds, home lives, and circumstances, unknowingly unite themselves as they prepare to decide which university to commit four years of their lives to. Most students’ end goal is not spending years at the university itself, but what comes after – a passionate career in a field they genuinely care about. It is not all about the process for most of them, but the result at the end of it all. The process is important, but having the degree is ultimately the primary goal. With so many graduate schools vying for new annual influxes of students, it is easy to become overwhelmed with choice and lost in the chaos. As students try to decide which university or college is going to suit them best, they find themselves adrift in a sea of information and pitches, unable to grasp anything long enough to feel secure in their decision. Education is important, it is true, but what is more important is being happy with one’s choice of graduate school.
While choosing a graduate school in America is often considered a family decision – after all, it is unlikely that the student themselves can afford the university they ultimately get into, if they choose to go at all. It is important to include family in one’s decision, but what is more important is taking time to self-reflect. What values are most important to the individual? What, in a school, do they want most? Not every student values the same things in a university or college, so it is important for them to take a step back, look at the pros and cons of each grad school they are considering, and ultimately decide which school’s values aligns with theirs the most. Only those kinds of schools will have any kind of hope in keeping them happy. Just as there is no joy in going to work at a job one despises, there is no point in opting to go to a school that a student hates.
The more expensive schools are the perfect fit for students, just as they are the wrong place for others – the value of a school does not depend on its tuition costs, but its intricate details and values that students align with themselves. Even as acceptance letters roll in, students are often not entirely set on which graduate school they want to invest their time and money in. As one of the most expensive, time consuming, and important decisions of a person’s life, it is little wonder why. A university can look like it is hitting home runs when looking from afar, but once campus tours and worth of mouth gets back to students, sometimes their minds can be completely changed (and sometimes they aren’t, it just depends on the individual).
There are countless aspects of university to consider, and not all of them are as simple as they first appear. One of the biggest (and most obvious) deciding factors for any student is the campus itself. Going to classes and studying on the grounds of a campus can be more enjoyable if the campus is appealing to the student – it really does make a difference. There are universities whose campus is lined with emerald grass and lakes and trees, and there are those that are primarily cement and small shrubbery – if any greenery at all. Just like every other aspect of university, it all depends on the student’s preferences. The same can be said about the school’s culture, location, resources, academic reputation, alumni/career prospects, activities, and overall student satisfaction.
Choosing a university can be an anxiety-ridden experience, but it does not have to be. and once students make the ultimate decision and land on a university, once they get there they have access to an abundance of tools (both from the university and from outside of it) that can assist them in being the best student that they can be, whether that be accessing rare books in the campus library or getting assistance from custom writing services to better structure their assessments, students are not alone in their graduate school experience – it just takes a little time to find the right groove, and the right university or college will only help with that, not hinder it. Students can decide for themselves where they want to be, and not allowing them to do so could have catastrophic consequences. If they can be trusted to go to graduate school, surely they can (and should) be trusted to be able to make the decision as to where they go to school.
Deciding which graduate school to go to is one of the most trying times in any student’s life. It is not an easy decision. With so many factors and concepts bounding around in the scope of vision, it can be easy to lose track of what the individual wants for themselves, as opposed to what everyone – including universities and sometimes even family – keeps telling them is best for them. Making the right decision regarding graduate school applications and acceptances can make all the difference between four years of enjoyable learning and growth, and four years of hell in an environment that makes one feel out of sync and lost in the masses. Luckily, there is a time when the chaos quietens and the world falls away, and suddenly it all makes sense. It might take time, it might take outsider opinion, but if students take a breather and focus on their own goals for their own future beyond graduation, then they will be able to make a decision that reflects them and not what is expected of them. Education is important, but being happy is more so.