Tuesday, May 19, 2015

5 Tips For Choosing A School

I found this topic request to be a little bit ironic, because, most of the time we don't get to "choose" the school we get into. However, we do get a choice as to which schools we apply for, and hence, the programs to which we give our futures to. After giving it some thought, I realized, there's actually a lot to think about. The school market is much like the job market; firms (schools, and believe you me, it is a business, though the professors/educators themselves are likely to be more authentic than that) are looking for strong candidates to sustain themselves while applicants are hoping to get the best bang per buck.

Therefore, after some careful thought, I felt that these five tips serves to build a strong foundation to which you can make a strategic choice in dedicating the next 4-8 years of your lives.

Here are........!!!

5 Tips For Choosing A School

Just so we're all together here: In the fly of the moment, I decided to record this as a vlog as well. So, here is the vlog and I'll keep the transcriptish-written-content below for your perusal. Enjoy!

1. What's their network?
A school is a brand experience. When you go to a school and get a degree, or even apply for internships from, what you are saying is that you bring the brand promise of that school's brand image to whatever you're trying to sell yourself to. Big names like Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, USC, Stanford, Michigan, NYU, etc. These names have very strong brand equities, and by extension, you as a student there, get to benefit from that image. This is the beginning aspects of a school's network.

As the network expands, you need to discern what their affiliations are, what are the available internships, rotations, and extra curricular opportunities. Who attends their job fairs? How active are the alumni?  

What are their networks? (Affiliations, internships, rotations, opportunities, job fairs, etc)

2. What's their brand equity?
Since I mentioned it in Tip #1, I'll reiterate that the brand equity of any given school is most definitely important. HOWEVER, it is only important if the brand is well known. Basically, no one really cares as an employer or receiving clinical affiliation site unless your school is well known and/or top tier. Does this means that the school's brand is all you should consider? NO! It means that if this is the last step of schooling you're going to have, make sure that its a good one - AND - make sure that if the name isn't well known, that their Tip#1 NETWORKS give access to brand experiences that are.

"What's in a name?" A LOT!

3. Where is it?
Location. Location. Location. Location is a big deal, no matter what we're talking about. Such is the case because of housing costs, safety, lifestyle, geopolitical-cultural considerations, etc. It's ALWAYS important to consider the location of the school. How close or far it is to home, friends, and extended family can very well play a crucial role in your support system while away at school.

4. What is the cost?
Debt is a big deal; student debt follows you forever. Now, while I don't believe in only considering the academic experience as a pure dollar for dollar ROI calculation, one would be a fool not to think on the earning potential AFTER school given the costs of completing it. If one were to go into $200k of debt and only be able to make $50k/year, paying that off in 30 years would you'd also ANOTHER $200k in interest! So yeah... what's the real cost?

5. Who is teaching you?
The professors at any school can be a big deal when it comes to the outgoing value of your education. After all, it's part of the brand. If one of your professors, even just one is renown in their field and you get to brag that they were your professor... that's a fun and powerful thing during a job interview. Also, the general venerability of the professors at any given institution also lends to the perceived quality of education. Sadly, the most famous of professors rarely make the best instructors; however, they offer you their brand by extension. Yet, the less well known professors tend to be quite accomplished and can be amazing teachers to which you'll not only learn a lot, you'll learn how to apply that knowledge and sharpen your mind for any future task that comes your way. In any and all cases, consider who will be teaching you.

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