When applying to graduate school, you’re probably thinking about how to impress the admissions committee and every faculty member you pass by on your campus tour, but don’t forget that your school ultimately needs to impress you (and your future employer) too. You’ll be putting a lot of time, energy, and money into your graduate degree, so ask these questions to make sure that it is a good starting place to your hopeful final destination.
What’s in a Name?
The name of your future alma mater is going to take a permanent, prominent residence on your resume. Think carefully about how you’ll feel about being associated with that program. Will you be proud to have that name on your resume? Is it a name that future employers (whether you end up in audit or tax, industry or a CPA firm, in the US or abroad) will recognize? Will people even know that the school had an accounting program?
How Do They Do What They Do?
In addition to general name recognition, most programs have a reputation for being good (or bad) in particular areas. Be sure that your interest matches up with the best of a particular school since employers may make assumptions about you based on what they know about the program you graduated from. If a school doesn’t seem to have a reputation, that may affect assumptions that employers make too. And don’t forget that accreditation is a must for a positive reputation.
Who Do They Know?
When you graduate, you probably want a job, right? Find out the program’s placement rate (number of students who had a job a few months after graduation) and the type of jobs that graduates are taking. If you’ve got a particular firm, specialization, or industry in mind, ask about where specifically graduates have been placed in the last three years; who regularly comes to recruit the university’s accounting students and how often they come; and if the university has any special relationships with local, regional, and/or international firms.
How Does the Network Work?
When you join an accounting program, you gain access to a group of people who love you just because of school spirit. Alumni networks can provide mentorship as well as job leads for students and new alumni. These networks can be a major asset, so find out if your school’s alumni are active and willing to help current students and recent grads. See if there are particular alumni in the geographic or specialty area that you’re eyeing. And maybe ask a few alumni what they think about the alumni network or the school in general to get first-hand info on the workings of the network.
Grad school is a big commitment, so make sure you’ve asked all the right questions before you make the final decision.
Find out more about choosing a graduate school and learn about different graduate degrees or other methods of getting your 150 credit hours to make the best possible decision.