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Letter of Recommendation - Questions & Answers

Question: I am currently finishing my senior year and I need help deciding on a graduate school. I have been accepted to two programs, but I can't figure out which is better. None of my advisors are helping and I thought maybe you could help my decision. Any guidance would be key!

This is a difficult decision, so your confusion is certainly justified. To decide, you should look at the whole picture: program structure and quality,  cost, availability of funding, faculty, and quality of life issues. Most students overemphasize program rankings and forget about quality of life issues. These are essential issues, given that you'll spend between two and eight years in a graduate program. 

Try to determine your quality of life in each program . What is the community like? Where might you live? Is housing affordable or will you require on-campus housing or perhaps multiple roommates?  How do you feel about each of these living situations? How far are you from friends and family? Is that important to you? 

When comparing the academic side of the two programs, examine the department web pages carefully. Are there differences in curriculum? Other requirements (e.g., theses, internships)? Are the faculty actively conducting research? Are there faculty in your interest areas? Speak with current students and find out what they think of the program. Where are graduates employed? Speak with recent graduates and get their input.

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