Thursday, September 21, 2006

schools selection

Taking a break from the essays writing and thought maybe I should journal down my school selection process.

I have identified 9 schools but, as of now, I am likely to apply to 7 of them only. 1 of the other 2 schools requires me to take the GRE, which I'm not sure if I can do it in time. The other is not really that into my research interest.

Based on the most recent USNews America's Best Graduate Schools (2007) ranking, the 7 schools that I am applying can be split into 4 groups:
  • (Group I) 2 in the Top 10
  • (Group II) 3 in the Top 11 - 20 range
  • (Group III) 1 in the Top 31 - 40 range
  • (Group IV) 1 outside the Top 49 (not sure if it is ranked)

Based on the USNews America's Best Graduate Schools 2005 Information Systems speciality ranking,
  • 6 in the Top 10
  • 1 outside the Top 20 (a Group I school)
I further divided these schools into 3 tiers,
  • Tier A: 1 Group I, 2 Group II
  • Tier B: 1 each from Group II, III and IV
  • Tier C: 1 Group I
[Please see my updated list.]

How did I come up with the different tiers? There are a few criteria that I looked at, starting with the most important:

1) Research interest. I looked at the faculty's research interest, and identified those that are doing research that I'm really keen in.

2) The school's reputation - both in general and specific to Information Systems. I also considered the school's placement record.

3) Environment - as I am going with my wife and daughter, I hope the place is condusive for a healthy family life, raising up children, etc.

4) Cost and Quality of Living. I took into account the stipends and financial aid offered by the schools here.

Such tier-system would be helpful should I need to decide between offers in months to come (of course, this is what I'm hoping for...). There is a limitation though: while useful to compare between tiers, this system may not help much when comparing within a tier. Anyway, that will be a good problem to have. And I must/should not be too presumptuous for now.

At this point, it might have been better if I had expanded the list to about 10 schools. But criteria #1 (Research Interest) seriously limited my choices. I'm not sure if this is the right thing for me to do, but I guess I should just move on.

1 comment:

Daniel Jiraya said...

Good way to organize the application process. Can you elaborate more on "research interests"? This expression is often mentioned on schools' application web sites. What did you find so restrictive about the faculty's research interest that prevented you from expanding your pool of eligible schools beyond seven? If you knew, for whatever reason, that a top 10 school was inclined to accept you, would you give up applying on the basis of incompatible research interests? What does that even mean to you? Thanks, and good luck!