Grad School Neighborhood Tour

There are a lot of important things to consider when researching
grad schools. Some of the most common considerations are the cost of
tuition, rigor of the program, required coursework and acceptance rate.
Another common consideration is the school’s city or region. Whether
you are interested in staying close to family and friends or you are
hoping to get a job in a particular location after graduation, a
school’s city or region may impact the program’s appeal. When
considering a school’s location, be sure to also think about the
neighbor the school is in. Is there public transportation? Is it safe?
How much will rent cost? Would I want to live here for two years?

This morning I drove to Baltimore with my parents to look at the
area surrounding one of the grad school’s I’m considering - University
of Baltimore’s M.S. program for Interaction Design and Information
Architecture. From what I’ve read about the program, it looks like a
great match for me. I’ve talked to two professors from the program,
looked at the course requirements and researched where graduates work.
Baltimore is a fun city, but each neighborhood is very different from
the next. Having the opportunity to walk around the blocks that
surround the university gave me a great
sense of what my life would be like for the two years that I’d be in
grad school. The university’s buildings were all close together, there
were restaurants and bars close by, as well as a variety of apartment
and condo buildings. While there were things to do and the area seemed
safe enough, it also was not as nice as some of the areas of Baltimore
that I’m more familiar with.

Although I only spent about an hour walking around, it made me
realize that there are pros and cons for each school. I still need to
think about whether a program that is in state and has a great
selection of courses for what I’m interested in is worth going to a
school in a city that I don’t see myself working in and is less well
know than other universities. My other option is to consider well-known
schools that are in a region I might want to work in, but where the
program that they offer might not be perfect in terms of the courses or
focuses offered. I would ideally like to live in the Southeast and work
for a start-up or small to mid-sized digital communications company or
firm. I hesitate to go to a program that is just information
architecture (often housed in a library sciences program) or just
interaction design (often housed in a computer science program) because
I want to be able to design Web sites and Web applications from
beginning to end, not just focus on one aspect. With University of
Baltimore’s School of Information Art and Architecture, I know that the
courses would all be relevant to my career interests. At the same time,
I might be able to customize another university’s program through
electives and independent study.

It’s a lot to think about, but a simple walk around a neighborhood
emphasized the importance of really thinking about all of my grad
school options.

---Read More at College Grad Lessons---

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