How to Choose a Grad School

Deciding you’re ready for graduate school is a huge step toward continuing your education and advancing your career. No matter your unique story, determining which grad school best fits your life can be tricky. We are here to help you answer some foundational questions so you can move your career forward with confidence and clarity.

1. Pick a program.

This step can seem simple on paper and hard in practice. For instance, if you’re considering becoming a high school guidance counselor, you could pursue your master’s in counseling, social work, or education. General research can be extremely helpful as you consider your experience, dreams, and interests. Try to connect with a real-life guidance counselor to hear their story and ask their advice. If you’ve already chosen your grad school, ask to meet with professors from different programs to help picture what might fit you best.

2. Do your research.

Make sure you know all the program’s prerequisites before you apply. Schedule and study for any entrance exams—like the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT—with enough time to take it again for a competitive application. Explore what classes or experience is necessary to include on your application or transcripts. Determine which grad schools have the best connections for internships or clinical opportunities that fit your goals.

3. Assess your life.

Take five minutes or three hours to examine your life just as it is—no judgment or ideals here. Your story and stage in life can help determine if an online or face-to-face program would be better for your schedule. If you’re looking to move across the country, grad school might be the perfect opportunity. If you work overnights, classes at 3 p.m. might prove to be the bane of your existence.

4. Honor your values.

What’s most important to you? While it’s beneficial to stretch your worldview, if you disagree with an institution’s stance on the ideas or values you hold most dear, that might not be the place for you. If you’re considering a degree in ministry, make sure your beliefs align with a university’s statement of faith. If you’re looking for a counseling degree rooted solely in scientific study, don’t apply to seminary and vice versa.

5. Search for support.

If you’re on the way to medical school, academic support might be most beneficial to you. If you have a learning disability, what schools offer the best accommodations? How can staff and faculty partner with you to make sure you receive the support you deserve? Maybe it was hard to find a job after finishing your undergraduate degree, and career support is important to you. If you’re a single parent hoping to invest in your community, what opportunities does the university offer to connect with classmates outside of the classroom?

While there are one thousand more questions you can ask yourself and the supportive people in your life, these five areas of examination offer a beneficial place to start. Remember, this is your life. Your dreams. Your goals. Your career. Your time. You get to decide what comes next, and we’re thrilled you’re considering graduate school as part of your story.

If you’re ready to explore the next steps for your educational journey, our graduate school and seminary admissions teams are here to help! Whether you have logistical questions about things like prerequisites, enrollment timelines, or program specifics—or even more personal matters, like determining if Bethel is the place for you or discerning your calling—we are ready to support you, no matter what.