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“Finding the Right Fit – Location and Learning” – Part 1

August 10, 2018
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By Beth McKenna

When exploring options for graduate studies, there are many things to consider. All schools are different, varying in what they offer students, different faculty, approach to learning, alumni, industry and community connections and support in finding a job after graduation. While reviews, rankings and articles by third parties can provide some insights, it is important to consider many things in finding the school that fits you.

School Size:

Universities come in all shapes and sizes. When determining a graduate program that is right for you, consider your needs and the size of the institution. It is often the case that larger programs can mean more support staff, larger networks (more students), more opportunities, and greater recognition of your university training. This can also mean that smaller programs often (but not always) include more individualized attention and more access to resources.

At the graduate level, students focus on an area of specialization and dedicate themselves to researching and learning this for one to two years, depending on the program. Larger schools may offer more opportunities for flexibility in curriculum, more opportunities to learn outside of your program, or opportunities to collaborate with a larger base of students. Smaller schools present a more intimate learning environment, but other challenges that come with smaller settings as well – which include fewer programs to collaborate with, fewer peers, fewer faculty and smaller networks of peers among graduation.

The impact of a school’s size also depends on the student’s own needs and approach to learning and pursuing their education. Consider your own needs, wants and learning style when considering your graduate studies, and find the school that best fits you.

Other Programs/Cross-Curricular Learning

Every university, faculty and program has a different approach to cross-curricular learning and opportunities to diversify your studies. Concordia offers opportunities to get involved on campus as a student leader, to volunteer in the community, to collaborate with other departments (ie: collaborating with ENCS students in District 3) to attend networking events, to enhance professional skills through our GradProSkills professional development courses and to integrate into the diversified Montreal community as a volunteer, employee or collaborator.

It is important when considering graduate studies and relocating to another city, the return-on-investment (ROI) of relocating to a new city. When moving for graduate studies, consider life after the graduate degree – will you stay in the city after graduation? Will you have the networks and connections as well as support and resources to launch into finding and pursuing your professional career goals? In the John Molson MBA program, we boast a rate of 93% of our graduates finding work in Canada, with most of them staying in Montreal post-graduation.

Teaching Faculty:

When considering a school for graduate studies, consider whom you want to study with, the teaching faculty and what they have researched, specialized in and how they focused their own studies. Read into their publications of interest. Also, ask a recruiter or program director about the program’s direction in learning style.

Consider some of the following questions when considering a school - What is the program’s approach to learning? Is it seminars/lectures, or is it more case-based and student-driven? Ask questions including whether students expected to attend class and listen/ask questions, or are students interacting more with professors, giving presentations, group work and debates?

At JMSB, you can always check out explore.concordia.ca for information on our teaching faculty, their areas of specialization, and to get familiar with who our faculty are while considering your schools for graduate studies.

Tuition:

MBA degrees are among some of the more expensive degrees commonly sought by prospective students. They create competition in the job market, are in-demand by employers and help graduates climb the career ladder and advance themselves professionally through networks, new skills and credentials. Many MBA programs offered at public universities are privatized programs, meaning the university will charge more for these programs than public programs, and will design the MBA to how they see fit to meet the needs of their clientele while competing with other universities.

These programs can be extremely costly for Canadians and international students alike. Concordia’s MBA program is publicly funded, meaning that the local provincial and federal governments subsidize tuition for local Quebec residents and out-of-province Canadian students. It is important to take into account all costs of an MBA or graduate degree at all schools that are in consideration, as well as living costs in that city, quality of life and long-term ROI when choosing a graduate program and university. Don’t forget to ask about opportunities to work on campus (Teaching Assistant, Research Assistant, or work-study!), availability of part-time opportunities nearby/off-campus to help fund your studies as well!

Considering graduate studies can be a long process with its own challenges. Students need to take into account their own change of lifestyle and prepare for an adjustment, no matter which school you choose. It is important to assess a university as in-depth as possible, talk to university recruiters, ask to connect with current students, connect with alumni and to research the school as much as possible before making a decision!

Connect with Beth McKenna, Graduate Student Recruitment Officer (JMSB) at gradadvisor.jmsb@concordia.ca to discuss reaching your potential at JMSB.

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