How to Shortlist Grad Schools

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 11.34.20 AMA lot of times people come and ask:

What kind of graduate school should I go to? What course will be good for me?

Those are dangerous waters that we are treading in. This means we are letting someone else decide our future for us. Let us have a run through of how to answer those question for ourselves. This process will also have 2 more benefits:

  1. This will greatly reduce our list of chosen colleges.
  2. This will help us focus on other core requirements of shortening the list further and choosing the perfect grad school for ourselves.

Here is an example of the labels in an excel sheet that I follow to keep a track of the grad schools that I want to go to.


Course Type [very important!]:

The course that you want to pursue should be the most important factor in deciding which university to go to and not the other way round. Often times the best grad schools may not be the best choice for us just because they are “famous.”


Course Specifics:

Often times, courses themselves are not self-explanatory. We might have to dig a bit deeper to see what kind of subjects are taught and what the course structure is like. Some people may like a more practical course, while others may like a course which gives them some research time.

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We must remember that there are thousands of colleges, so this is another great way to shorten that list.


Graduate School Name:

Now comes the most commonly anticipated part — what I like to call the “Name Game.” Of course, the popularity of a college is important. More popularity means better opportunities and better facilities, but you also have to make sure the “famous” schools also have programs that are right for you!


Graduate School Location [very important!]:

This is a factor which most people miss out on. It is not just the pictures but also the culture of a place that matters. If we end up going to a place where we cannot adjust, then, God only save us 😀 ! We wouldn’t want to end up in a place where we feel alienated!


Graduate School Tuition:

It may seem like an easy job but handling matters of tuition can be very tricky. Often times, people do not take into consideration the living expenses and the other miscellaneous expenses that come along. We must calculate everything down to the tiniest of details.


Graduate School Duration:

Some people look for a one year course while others prefer more. This is also a very important factor in deciding on which place would be best suited to our needs.

Food For Thought: Season 1 Episode 6:

“To start doing something, all you have to do is Begin!”


Cheers 🙂


  • Priyanka

    Priyanka is a Magoosh TOEFL student blogger. She just finished her degree in Computer Science and Engineering and, like many of you, is in the process of applying to graduate schools in the US. Each week, she will blog about her application journey!

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