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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Choosing the right grad school for you

    Ah, senior year. For many students, this is the time to start thinking about entering the “”real world.”” For others, such as myself, it’s time to prepare for our next self-imposed confinement: graduate school.

    Unfortunately, the road to higher academics can be long and hard. And now that acceptance letters are arriving in bulk (I’m being wildly optimistic here), the formidable task of deciding on a school remains.

    Campus visits can be very helpful in this process, but they can also make matters worse when one doesn’t know how to maximize the opportunity.

    Therefore, I have lovingly prepared this handy guide for those of you in need of a few tips for your upcoming grad school visit:

    Tip 1: Do not set up any appointments with the faculty or staff before your visit. Catching people off guard gives you a better chance to evaluate their overall competency.

    If the people you meet are able to answer your questions with little or no preparation time, then the institution obviously tends to hire well-informed, competent people.

    If, however, the people you meet are unable to answer your questions, you can assume the institution mainly hires slackers. This type of institution is the more desirable of the two.

    A school that doesn’t demand much of its employees probably won’t demand much of you. Thus, you can achieve your desired degree with minimal effort.

    Tip 2: When visiting with the faculty of your chosen department, ignore the fact that they are not demigods. Somehow forgetting the humility they acquired during their own studious years of dumpster diving for furniture, most prominent professors love nothing better than someone pandering to their egos.

    Therefore, be sure to read everything they’ve ever published and inform them that you have done so. If necessary, pretend that you enjoyed their works. Don’t worry if your delivery isn’t all that convincing. Most academics don’t mind liars, only independent thinkers.

    Tip 3: When conversing with current grad students, refrain from mentioning the outside world. Grad students like to think the universe revolves around academia and don’t like to be reminded of the fact that their hard work will likely receive little recognition or appreciation from society.

    Remember, these grad students will eventually be your peers, and flattery is the key to gaining their favor. Therefore, you should treat them like society treats sports stars.

    Ask for their autographs and vocally covet the bling (i.e. erasable highlighters) they have purchased with their extravagant stipends. Maybe even ask for a “”Cribs””-style tour of the one-room apartment they share with three other people.

    Most grad students will dig this VIP treatment. They’re too busy pampering tenured faculty to acknowledge that society rarely cares about anything that doesn’t involve the manhandling of various kinds of balls.

    Tip 4: Spend time getting to know the undergraduate population of your chosen school. Odds are you’ll end up as a teaching assistant in some of their classes.

    If the undergraduates are mostly stupid, you’ll feel better about yourself and your academic abilities when you’re grading their papers. This self-esteem boost could be very beneficial in your academic journey.

    However, if the undergraduates are mostly intelligent, think twice about attending the institution. These arrogant know-it-alls will likely complain about your teaching style. There’s no use in spending exorbitant amounts of time and money, only to end up feeling like you’ve been dissed by Simon Cowell.

    Tip 5: Visit the campus library. If you choose to attend this institution, this building will be your primary home for a few years. Be sure to try out the furniture. If the couches are uncomfortable, consider attending a different institution.

    During your years of study these couches will be the location of your minimal hours of sleep and, if you’re lucky, the occasional tryst. Don’t sacrifice your comfort – or your partner’s – for academic prestige. Remember, in our society, good sleep and good sex are far more important than a good education.

    All right, that’s all. Good luck and happy visiting!

    Jared Pflum is a religious studies senior. He can be reached at

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