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Career Services

Evaluating Graduate Schools

Once you’re certain that grad school fits into your career and life plans, you need to find out as much as possible about the program you have in mind. Early in your junior year, begin to explore schools offering the type of program you want. The criteria outlined below may help you to decide which graduate programs are best suited to your talents, your ambitions, and at a time of soaring college costs, your pocketbook:

What are admission requirements? How important are GPA and test scores? What criteria are used to evaluate and select students? Will it be easier to get accepted after gaining work experience? What types of students does the program attract? Some schools attract highly competitive people while others foster teamwork.

Programs Offered
What specializations are available? Does the program focus on theory and original research, or does it stress the practical application of knowledge and skills? Does the program provide real work experience such as practicum or internships? Is the curriculum structured or flexible? Are there opportunities to work on research projects? What resources, such as computers and laboratories, are available?

Who are they? What are their credentials? Do they hold degrees in fields of expertise from leading universities? What awards, grants, and special recognition have they earned? What have they published? What research projects have they conducted? Do they hold chairs or professorships? Does the department have nationally or internationally known scholars in the field? Do the top scholars in the program teach, or are they primarily involved in research? Do they actively participate in the graduate school community? Is there diversity? What is the faculty/student ratio? Is the faculty involved in professional organizations?

Philosophy of Education
What is the average length of time spent in the program? Do opportunities exist for specialization in areas of your own interest? Is the approach theoretical or pragmatic?

Is the university accredited? Is the program nationally ranked in terms of excellence? Is the program well established or relatively new? Who has graduated from the program and what are they doing now? What is the attrition level?

Multicultural Opportunities
What is faculty and student composition? Will you have an opportunity to work with students from other cultures? What foreign exchange programs are available? Is it possible to study foreign languages? What multicultural experiences do the faculty bring to the classroom? Are international concerns substantially integrated into the curriculum?

Is there a comprehensive reference collection in your area of specialization? How many volumes? What special collections? Is the material accessible? Is a computerized system available? How many trained staff members are there?

Physical Facilities
Are there adequate study facilities and sufficient classrooms and seminar rooms? Are there areas for student interaction? Are the surroundings attractive and pleasant enough to endure throughout the program? Is there housing available on-campus or nearby for graduate students?

What are the tuition and fees? What financial aid is available in the form of loans, scholarships, internships and work-study funds? What about teaching and research assistantships? How much is a non-resident tuition? What is the cost of living in this particular area?

Geographic Location
Considering the weather and political/social climate, will you want to live here for several years? Would you be happier in a small town or a large urban area? Does the area offer cultural and recreational activities? Is this a place where you might want to stay? What kind of impact will this location have on your family and friends? What are the employment opportunities in the area?

Look at the size of the department as well as the university. A large institution will have more extensive facilities and libraries; a smaller school will offer more personal attention and a sense of community.

State Regulations & Residency Requirements
Many state universities are required by law to give admission preference to in-state residents. These regulations apply to your legal residence and may affect the cost of your tuition.

Career Assistance
What career planning and job search assistance is available through the department? Is there an on-campus career center that offers counseling, job search training, employment leads, and library resources? Does the program provide real work experience such as practicum, cooperative programs, or internships to give you solid work experience? Are career services offered to alumni?

Networking Contacts
If you hope to develop relationships with industry leaders, select a school that prides itself on real-world orientation and opportunities to mingle with living legends. If you want a program that encourages graduates to network, seek a school with a well-developed alumni relations office.

Additional Ways to Evaluate Programs

Graduate and Professional School Rankings
A common concern deals with which institution has the “best” program. There is no single reliable ranking of graduate schools. National rankings do exist, however each is based on different criteria. Therefore, it may be more meaningful to talk to faculty in your field and see which professors are doing research and publishing. While actual rankings may be somewhat misleading, comparative information about various programs is readily available. As you attempt to gain an overview of the many graduate and professional school programs available, you may find the following resources particularly helpful.

Review Graduate Catalogs
Use a search engine or the above resources to find websites for programs in which you may be interested. Most institutions offer an updated version of their catalog on-line. You may also request catalogs directly from the admissions office of the institutions you are considering.

Talk with Graduate School Admissions Representatives
Call the admissions office of the institutions in which you are interested with a list of questions for their admissions counselors. If geographically feasible, try to meet with someone in person. You may also email questions to most admissions representatives. Annual events where you’ll be able to meet representatives from grad schools across the country include the GRE Forum, Law Forum, and MBA Forum. Generally, these forums are held in Chicago every fall and are worth the trip down to the city to meet with representatives, gather admissions materials, and attend free seminars. Check with Career Services or the testing websites for dates and information.

Visit the Campus
Perhaps nothing can help you get a better perspective than an actual campus visit. There you’ll have a chance to observe the following: Do students and faculty interact productively? Is faculty easily accessible? Do the school, campus and community satisfy your lifestyle and extracurricular needs?

Talk to Current Students
The admissions office can arrange meetings or provide phone numbers if a campus visit is not possible. Beyond basic questions, you’ll want to determine responsiveness to student opinions and concerns. Do students serve on committees? What is the social scene on campus for graduate students?

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …