Alright. We’ve decided we want to go to grad school … time to figure out where and with whom.
Obviously, this is a different beast than undergraduate. I’m not sure what you looked at, but you’re no longer looking at majors, extracurriculars, costs, or how close it is to your high school friends or parents. Alright, so maybe you still need to consider those things, but we all know the most important thing to consider is the person you’ll be working with, or your thesis advisor.
So in some respects, you’re not really looking for a school or even a program, you’re looking for a person. But the school can be important too. If you’re worried about your academic pedigree, this can be very important. And honestly, we all know, that sometimes we just choose the place that gives us the most money.
However, before the offers roll in, you need to apply. So what’s a good way to find these schools/programs/people?
First of all, hopefully if you’ve decided to go to grad school, you’ve already narrowed your desired field to a pretty specific topic. This will help immensely and if you haven’t, you might want to consider some soul searching, an internship/undergrad research, or starting with a master’s first.
- Ask your professors/advisors.
Find someone at least related to what you want to do (the more specific the better) and tell them that you want to go to grad school for X. If they aren’t jerks (you don’t want to talk to them if they are) they will probably be very happy to tell you about so and so at such and such of school that does exactly what you’re looking for. I’m not kidding. They all know each other (especially if it’s a small field).
Again, if you have a specific field in mind, start reading the corresponding journal. You might find someone working on exactly what you’re interested in. If not, you might notice a school that commonly comes up and check that out.
- Google that shit
I’m definitely not against Google in any way. Again, just search your topic/field of study you’re interested in. Scholar will help you find the journals, but a simple Google search will help you find departments at schools which will let you find faculty that way.
- Attend a Conference
This is probably one of the best ways, but maybe not the most feasible. If your field has a designated society, try to go to the (bi-)annual meeting. If not, go the next level out (general biology/ecology instead of microbial ecology). Read posters and go to talks that are related to what you want to study and follow them back to the schools/people involved. It might not be feasible – but check out the programs (usually listed online) for topics and speakers that’ll interest you.
- Online Grad School Search engines
I found these to be too generic for me, but they might work for you. Check them out, they’re easy enough to find.
- Read the literature
This has come up a couple times, but again, it’s important, so I’m saying it again. Search the databases for topics you’re interested in, find the names that continually come up and stalk them to see what they’re up to (research-wise, of course).