Narrowing down the graduate schools you are going to applying to is a tough decision. Applications cost money and take a long time to prepare. It's important that you spend as much time on your decision for your safety graduate school as you do with all other programs.
The reality is that most students do not get into their top choice for graduate school. Admissions are just too competitive. In some grad schools, you are competing against hundreds of other applicants for a slot. If you don't get into any of your top choices, it's okay. What matters is that you are still on your way to completing a masters degree or PhD program.
Choosing a Safety School
When applying to graduate school to pursue a masters degree or PhD program, you should only apply to schools that you would be happy attending. Obviously there are schools that are considered more prestigious or have a higher ranking, but in the end the most important factor about your grad school experience is that you are enrolled in a degree program you are interested in and that will lead to a fruitful career. For example, if you are interested health services administration, but you apply to a safety school that only has a healthcare administration program, you might not enjoy the program.
Put as much thought into what you will get out of your safety school's program as you do any other program. Don't forget to contact the career services offices of your safety school to get information on their graduation and employment rates. Check out the research of the professors that you will be working with, as this will be the bulk of your masters degree or PhD program experience. You should have at least two professors in mind who you would like to work with.
Making the Best of Your Grad School Experience
It’s common to second guess your decision to attend any graduate school because it’s a big commitment and you don’t want to waste your time or money on a degree program that will not provide you with the skills you need to transfer to a career.
Getting rejected from a school does not mean that you are deficient in any way, it just means that the committee did not think that you were a good fit for the program. However, your safety school does think you will be a good fit for their masters degree or PhD program.
Give the grad school a chance, and start the school year with an open mind. Get to know your professors, join a student organization and network with your peers. You want to avoid transferring. This can be difficult to do in graduate school, as programs vary from school to school.
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