So, it's finally come to that time in my life where I begin that dreadful process of college shopping again, but this time for a grad school.
I feel like this whole process is completely different than from when I went to college for my BS. This is 10x more stressful. I'm a Statistics major and want to go for my PhD in Statistics or Computational Statistics.
I *think* I have the 8-10 schools I'll be applying for:
Dual Doctoral Program at San Diego State University and Claremont University (Comp Stat)
Dual Doctoral Program at South Dakota State University and University of South Dakota (Computational Science and Stat)
North Carolina State University (Stat)
George Mason University (Comp Stat)
Washington University at St. Louis (Statistical Genetics)
Virginia Tech (Stat)
UC Santa Cruz (Stat)
And two CSU's for Masters if I don't get into any of the PhD programs, but I know those areas.
Anyone have any feedback about these colleges and the towns they are in, weather, horse life, etc? I didn't research the place where I'm getting my BS very well and I don't like the town as much as I thought I would so I want to make sure I really like my grad school since I'll be spending 4 - 7 years of my life there.
Any advice for going to grad school? Things you would do differently?
How was the application? GRE? Etc?
I just need advice. I've been picking my professor's brains, this is very uncharted territory for me and my family.
I'm starting an M.A. in Journalism in the fall, so very different field, but I do have a few nuggets of wisdom, now that I've been through the process.
The first (and biggest) thing: take a deep breath! It seems really overwhelming, but if you start early (which you are), it's doable.
Get your letter of recommendation writers lined up early - September, at the latest. All of my professors came through for me, but some didn't submit their letter until the day before the deadline. That was a bit nerve wracking.
Don't fret over the GRE. I freaked out over the math section (I have the math skills of a first grader), despite being told that it was no big deal. Per usual, everyone else was right, I was wrong, and I scored extremely well on the math. In fact, I think my verbal suffered a little bit because I focused so much on the math. No need to do anything fancy - just buy a Kaplan GRE prep book and READ a lot to boost that vocab. Also, you can only take the GRE once a month, since it's computer-based, so take it early enough so that you can re-take if necessary.
I did my graduate work at Virginia Tech and LOVED IT! Typical college town; Blacksburg=Virginia Tech. There is a wonderful, spirited atmosphere. This same spirit is not found everywhere. I work at a U of Michigan right now and I MISS the spirit of VT and Blacksburg.
The town is fairly small, but college orientated. Yes, there are lots of undergrads there too, but there is a decent grad population and dedicated grad hangouts. I had a lot of fun. Negative is sometimes you want a little more culture than can be found in Bburg, but all in all not a bad place to be for grad school.
I had excellent instruction, a personalized experience, and the University as a whole has great resrouces. Students are super involved in many ways, so it is fairly easy to find your niche.
The cost of living is on the low side, housing is easy to come by, and the area beautiful. Horse-wise, it depends what you are looking for. There are options though, and you are located close enough to the Lexington Horse Park and to the Greensboro, NC area so you decent shows are well within a few hours drive.
Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.
Best advice about grad school-- make sure the location will suit you and most importantly, make sure there are faculty who share in your interest areas. It can be the toped ranked program, but if you aren't into the topic areas the faculty are, you will be miserable and missing out.
Use whatever resources are available at your current school -- career resources center, writing lab, etc. Your current school has a vested interested in getting people into the best graduate programs possible, because it'll look good for them. So they should have something set up to help you. Take advantage of it.
For information on the area/culture/etc., ask the programs you are interested in if they can put you in touch with current grad students. You might also hit up the alumni office at your current school and see if they have any contacts in the schools you are interested in.
If you can visit, go. For one of my MA programs, all of us were crammed into a cubicle farm with time-share desks. It was... interesting... especially at midterms and finals, when half a dozen people could be doing student conferences at once. Details like that do not get advertised on the program website, but you'll find them out when you visit. Then you can decide if you want to live with them.