The Different Variables to Be Worked Out

After the subject and school have been identified an ideal next step would be to identify your supervisor, and once again extensive research would help you come to a conclusion. Different programs have different requirements – some allocate supervisors, while others leave it up to the discretion of the students. Also, many programs have a rotation policy wherein students are allocated different professors just to increase the versatility and expose the students to different types of exposure. Hence it is imperative the concerned students do an all-embracing background check on the perspective supervisors regarding the list of published works, recent conferences or even books and articles that will be helpful in inferring the competence of the professors. Getting associated with the right professor is more important than anything else, because the professor that you will be under will have a direct bearing on your performances, your productivity, how much you can learn and most importantly how satisfied you are at the end of the course. It is because of this that we suggest NEVER get admitted into a school only because of one professor that you consider will be best suited for your future. What if something untoward happens to the concerned prof, it is after all your future at stake? Hence, always have a back-up plan – filter out other names also, just in case you need to take resort of the second-best option.

Always make sure that the opinion of other students who are also planning to apply is catered for. Try to interact with as many of them as possible, it will help you build an opinion when it comes down to framing your own decision. Also try to stay in touch with at least two-three current students, and then talk to them about their professors and about their strengths and weaknesses. Discuss with them your plans, your preferences and take their advice on choosing your professors.

The importance of starting as early as you possibly can should not down-played upon, because if you do embark on the journey early, you will find out more sooner than others that there are different funding resources which will be enough to cater to your program.

Another critical variable that needs to be deciphered is the financial aspect, and the implication it will have on the duration of the course. For instance, after a course has been chosen all aspects should be monitored and the sources of funding must be looked at. Different schools adopt different methods of offering financial aid, like fellowships for teaching or being research assistants. Apart from this, there are a number of other essential fragments that need to be considered. These include among others:

  • 1. Tuition Fees- This will incur the maximum cost, and make sure that the money paid is worth it. Also, the track-record of the school, the atmosphere, the crowd and finally, do you see yourself fitting into the jigsaw puzzle should be properly checked before embarking on this expedition.
  • The Housing arrangement- The cost of real-estate varies state-wise and it is imperative all the different options are explored. Look – up at the cost of the various rooms that in and around the campus. Are you planning to stay in groups, or single and then accordingly decide on the rooms available.
  • The Travelling costs- Which will include the daily trips made to the school, and also the many research trips that have to be taken. Is there a regular public transport, or do you have to use a personal vehicle to commute.
  • Is there any health insurance that can be availed? - New place, new environment and new food. There might be health complications. What are the options? Are there any health insurance plans available?

After identifying all the different areas, now the next step would be to identify the source of financial aid. Are there any part-time job opportunities that you could pursue, and will it impact the course which you have opted for. The other sources of funding could be either university controlled or from fellowships. Also, many universities have a financial aid in place, but they are not located in one centralized location. What then needs to be done is to locate the overall Financial Aid Office. Also, there are Graduate Schools that deal specifically in providing financial aid.

There are a few external fellowship programs run by the government, but in order to avail them recommendations are needed from the department which you have opted for. But then this step can only be taken once admission in the respective school is guaranteed.

Therefore, what we have discussed so far is that there are enough opportunities to take advantage of and meet your financial requirements. What is needed is that the student starts early and is awake to the different areas which can be benefited from. Ideally, these opportunities should be properly investigated one year before you apply for the school. The most critical point that should be carefully noted is that all these scholarships (read financial aid) come with a deadline, and every effort should be made to meet the deadlines. It is all about discovering your personality throughout. There is also the option of consulting the college counselor regarding the best possible mode that should be adopted – for instance, if part-time work is to be taken up, the course adopted could be cut-short to a part-time one. Now it may be that the time taken to complete a part-time course could extend beyond the stipulated time-frame of two years, so this factor has to be catered in.