Career Exploration

Welcome to Career Services

Our mission is to empower students and alumni to plan, develop, and manage their careers for a lifetime by providing trusted, knowledgeable guidance and support.

Let us help you find what you need

Our experience team has put together a set of resources for you, no matter what stage in your career journey you are in. View all of our resources below, or call us to schedule an appointment at (304) 637-1316.

Students sitting at a table

D&E Alumni

Preparing for the Successful Job Interview

The job interview is a mutual exchange of information. Think of the interview not as an interrogation but as a two-way conversation during which you and the employer determine whether you meet each other’s needs.

As the applicant, your main objectives are to:

  • communicate information about your skills and qualifications clearly and accurately.
  • connect this information to the requirements of the job for which you are interviewing.
  • seek additional information about the position and employer to determine if the position is an appropriate fit.

The interviewer’s main objectives are to:

  • assess how closely your qualifications match the requirements of the position and organization.
  • present the organization in a positive manner and supply accurate information about it to you.
  • There are a number of steps that you need to complete to maximize the success of this conversation.
Interview Steps
Step One: Prepare

Prepare all necessary documents needed for the interview- resume, cover letter, etc.

You will always want to bring along extra copies of your resume, transcript, and references. Consider purchasing a leather portfolio to hold your documents and a pen and paper to record notes. For assistance in editing your resume or cover letter, come by D&E Career Services and meet with Chris Jones or upload your document online for a 48-hour resume review.

Plan your attire.
First impressions are powerful – make sure to look your best. Suggestions for professional dress for an interview include:

  • Suits/dresses: Conservative, in dark, neutral colors (navy, black, gray, or tan), skirt length just above knee, no mini skirts
  • Shirts/blouses: Simple, in soft colors and not revealing, Stay away from loud or bright fabric patterns
  • Socks: Calf-length, complementing the suit
  • Stockings: Skin tone or neutral color to match suit
  • Shoes: Polished, should match suit; low to medium heel
  • Ties: Silk, coordinated with suit
  • Handbag: Medium to small size
  • Jewelry: Limited accessories; small earrings

Anticipate the interview’s format.
Ask questions beforehand such as: “With whom will I be meeting?” “How long should I plan to be at your office?” Knowing the format will help you prepare for the interview experience.

Step Two: Research the Organization and the Position

Learn as much about the organization and position you are applying for before the interview. Visit the organization’s website. Look up the company’s mission statement and goals to see how you may fit with the company’s goals and culture. Analyze the job description and try to match your experiences, interests, and abilities to the requirements for the position. Use the resources on this website and investigate links related to your particular occupational field.

Step Three: Know Yourself

Prepare to discuss your strengths, weaknesses, education, work experiences, personal goals, and values. Read the job description thoroughly, anticipating questions that focus on your qualifications, the organization, and how the two fit together.

Questions you may be asked include:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your goals?
  • Why do you want to work for this organization?
  • Why should we hire you?
Step Four: Ask Questions

The questions you ask will reveal much about your level of interest in the organization and your level of preparation for the interview. Make a list and ask questions that demonstrate a genuine interest in and knowledge of the organization and position.

Although each situation will warrant specific inquiries, some suggested questions include:

  • What characteristics do you look for in a successful employee?
  • What are a few of the issues I will be expected to solve?
  • What is the traditional career path for this position, and in what ways do you evaluate employees?
  • If I may ask, what is your timetable for filling this current position?
Step Five: Follow Up

Write a brief letter of thanks for the interview. In the letter you need to reiterate your interest in the position and briefly state why you are the best candidate. If you do not hear from anyone in a week, then call to express your continued interest in the position.

Suggestions for a Better Interview

  • Arrive early
  • Be neatly groomed
  • Dress professional
  • Make eye contact
  • Give a firm handshake
  • Demonstrate good posture
  • Speak with confidence
  • Maintain interviewer’s pace, style of speech
  • Be polite
  • Answer questions directly
  • End interview with gratitude and enthusiasm about the job

Do not:

  • Arrive late without warning
  • Look shabby or disheveled
  • Wear obnoxious attire
  • Under- or over-dress
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Have a weak or overpowering handshake
  • Slouch or show bad posture
  • Speak too loudly or too softly
  • Appear hyperactive or passive
  • Make answers too lengthy or brief
  • End interview without gratitude
Types of Interview Questions

The most common type of interviewing question is “behavioral”. Behavioral questions attempt to determine how you might operate on the job. How you responded to past situations is of great interest to the interviewer in assessing your potential as an employee.

Examples of behavioral questions include:

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to juggle multiple tasks.
  • Tell me about a situation in which you solved a problem as a member of a group. What was your role?
  • Tell me about a problem you once had on the job. How did you go about resolving the problem?

Traditional Questions
Traditional questions include questions that clarify points on your resume, evaluate your accomplishments and goals, and assess your expectations of the organization. “Themes” also work into these questions, as well as many opportunities for you to showcase
your strengths. Some traditional questions and themes include:

Question: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Theme: How well you know yourself, as well as how honest and open you are
Question: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Theme: Ambition
Question: Why should I hire you?
Theme: Understanding of organization’s needs, as well as confidence of your qualifications

Difficult Questions
Difficult questions are those that you are hoping they won’t ask. For instance, if your resume does not show continuous employment, you can expect to be asked to explain any gaps. In order to answer these questions, you will need to come to terms with the issue at hand, see the positive side of it, and demonstrate that you are eager to move on with your career.

Attend a Fair

Alumni are always welcome at our job fairs, regardless of when you graduated. To help you research and target specific employers, company and job information is always maintained in the office before and after job fairs.

Job Shadowing

The Job Shadow Program provides students the opportunity to explore career paths and options, experience a professional work environment, connect with professionals in their career field of interest, and observe skills and job tasks related to their career field.

Student Job Shadowing Information

The Job Shadow Program is open to all Davis & Elkins (D&E) College students enrolled in a degree or certificate program at the time of registration.

As a result of participating in this program, students will be able to:

  • Make or confirm career decisions
  • Gather more information about a career path
  • Increase their network
  • Understand how a professional work environment operates


The Job Shadow Program runs every semester on a rolling basis. As students apply for job shadow opportunities, their interest is passed along to our partner employers to then set up dates and times. Typically, a job shadow is anywhere from a day to a weeklong experience.

How it Works

Students can register for the Job Shadow Program by completing the Job Shadow Program – Student Interest Form.

Once students have completed the online interest form, they are emailed a professionalism in the workplace video. Students will review the video and email D&E Career Services. Students will submit resumes to enroll. Employer hosts will then review the resumes and select the student(s) who they feel is the best match.

If a student is offered an initial job shadow match, they have 48 hours to review and research the employer host company and can choose to accept or decline the experience.

Once the match is made and the everyone agrees the students will be provided the employer host contact information and must initiate contact to arrange their job shadow schedule.

When job shadow week concludes, students are eligible to receive a Certificate of Completion by completing a few additional reflection activities.

Please note:

  • Completing the online interest form does not guarantee participation in the Job Shadow Program.
  • There is no guarantee that a student will be matched with an employer upon completion of the activities in Canvas.


The Career Services Staff works diligently to provide an array of job shadow experiences. However, the experiences available are only those submitted by employer hosts. While we invite all of our employer contacts and target all majors/industries to participate in the program, some employers may not have the resources to provide a job shadowing experience. Therefore, the list of experiences may be limited and vary by semester.

Employer/Host Job Shadowing Information

Short term (Duration: 1 day to 5 days)

Spring Program: May

Opportunity for employers to brand their organization and identify top talent for internship or professional positions

The Job Shadow Program is open to all students attending Davis & Elkins (freshmen with little or no work experience that are eager to explore various career fields, to non-traditional students with previous experience and a wealth of skills)

No fees to participate (for employer hosts or students)

Employer hosts:

  • Design a job shadow experience that would give students a good overview of the profession and/or industry. This may be accomplished by having students:
  • perform actual tasks
  • attend staff meetings
  • shadow staff members
  • interview key departmental staff
  • observe client/stakeholder interactions
  • experience employee demonstration of industry-specific software or tools
  • visit work-sites
  • Structure job shadowing experience based on their company, industry and profession
  • Experience should be more than an extended “pitch”
  • Hosts are strongly encouraged to create an agenda that includes who the student(s) will be shadowing (can be more than one person), what they will be exposed to, Q & A time, etc.
  • May host multiple job shadow students in various career focus areas


Register for the Job Shadow Program by completing this form

What’s Your Next Step?

D&E Students

Resume Assistance

Resumes, and the cover letters that often accompany them, serve as the “gate keepers” to getting an interview. Represent your best professional self by ensuring that your resume and cover letter effectively summarize your education, experience, and accomplishments in a way that demonstrates your best achievements and skills.

How to Get Started

Crafting a resume, cover letter, or curriculum vitae (CV) from scratch can feel a little daunting. You may be wondering what information is appropriate to include or how to organize the content of your document. Never fear, friends! We have tips, tricks, and downloadable templates to get you started on your way to creating a job-winning document! When you are finished, don’t forget to submit it to our office to get reviewed, or make an appointment with a career counselor or career advisor to discuss edits, additions, and phasing for your industry!

Resume Reviews
Receive online feedback for your resume, cover letter, or other professional documents, or make an appointment.

48-Hour Online Resume & Cover Letter Critique

48-Hour Online Resume & Cover Letter Critique

A career counselor or adviser will be happy to provide online feedback for your resume, cover letter or other professional documents.

Then, for suggestions on how to improve your documents (in Microsoft Word format), simply fill out the form below and click submit!

You will receive a response within 48 business hours of submission (Monday – Friday).

For a more detailed discussion and review of your documents, please come see us for an in-person appointment. Call (304) 637-1316 to schedule an appointment today.

For Professors or Instructors: If your class is required to submit a resume, we encourage you to request a class presentation from our office, to provide best practices.

Davis & Elkins Resume Template

Davis & Elkins Teacher Resume Template

If your schedule cannot accommodate a guest speaker, please contact Chris Jones at (304) 637-1220 or, and he will help coordinate a timeline for your students’ submissions. Thank you.

You can schedule an appointment to go over these documents or talk about other career-related issues any time during our hours of operation.

How to Create a Job-Winning Resume

The resume is your most important job search tool. Your resume should effectively summarize your education, experiences, and accomplishments in a way that demonstrates your qualifications for the position you are seeking. Your resume may have a variety of sections, but should at least include the following sections: Objective or Summary of Qualifications, Education, Honors, Work Experience and Activities.

In developing a resume, you are encouraged to:

  • Pay careful attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and writing style
  • Organize information in a logical fashion
  • Keep descriptions clear and to the point
  • Limit to one page if possible
  • Use a simple, easy-to-read font

Use good, high quality, 100% bond paper that is white or off-white. Do not print on both sides of a page. Include your references on a separate page. Remember, your resume is your introduction to who you are and what skills you can offer an employer!

Download Resume Template (RTF, 29 KB)

Download Teaching Resume Template (RTF, 25 KB)

Building an Effective Resume

A resume is a professional reflection of you as a potential employee. The goal is to showcase confidence in your ability to fulfill the qualifications of the position for which you’re applying. Follow these eight steps to create a more effective resume:

Step 1: Getting Started

How do you get started? You should begin your resume with a heading that includes your name, address, phone number, and email address. You may want to include a permanent address and alternate contact information. Be sure to include a zip code and telephone area codes.

What is your objective? Prepare a brief, clear statement stating the type work you are seeking, the field in which you are interested, and the skills and strengths you bring to an organization. The Objective section is optional and may be omitted in some situations. Ask for guidance if you are unsure.

Step 2: Gather Information

What have you learned? The Education section highlights the knowledge you have acquired, and can include training, certifications, or licensure. List all degrees earned (or date to be earned), majors, concentrations, and institutions. List the degree title before the institution name. You may also want to include your GPA (especially if cumulative or major GPA is 3.0 or higher), relevant coursework, academic honors, and study abroad experience. The Honors section highlights Dean’s List, honor societies, and academic awards you have received.

What have you done? The Work Experience section highlights your (paid or unpaid) work-related accomplishments. Employers want to know what you have done and what experience you have that is worthy of consideration. Experience includes full-time jobs, academic research projects, internships or co-op positions, part-time jobs, or volunteer work. When describing each experience, give the position, title of organization, city, state, and dates employed. Use action verbs to begin each statement describing your accomplishments and duties in the job. Quantify people, products, and profits if possible.

Step 3: Identify Your Skills

Skills and competencies can be included in your Summary of Qualifications. These should be supported by the Education and Work Experience sections. There are three different types of skills you can include in your Summary of Qualifications.

Technical/Professional Skills: Skills performed in a job, task, or class, acquired by reading, training, or education. For example: “Proficient in Unix, Oracle, Oas LAN.”

Functional Skills: Skills related to people, information, or things transferable from one field or occupation to another. Be able to identify several strengths in the categories of data (organizing, problem-solving, creating), people (communicating, supervising, teaching), and things (maintaining, operating, coordinating).

Personal/Adaptive Skills: Skills that represent your style of working coordinated with your personal traits. For example: “Patient, creative, persistent, and energetic employee.”

Step 4: Match Your Experience and Skills with an Employer’s Needs

The content of your resume will change with applications to different jobs. You should mention skills that you possess that are required for the particular job to which you are applying. Additionally, change the wording of experiences and skills to match the type of position for which you are looking.

Step 5: Organize Your Resume Effectively

Organize your resume in a way that reflects your qualifications and skills for the job you are applying for. Name and objective should always be first; however, you should organize what is the most important to your targeted employer from the top of the page down. Keep in mind that additional categories can be created to represent your various strengths. Some additional sections include: Leadership Activities, Relevant Skills and Experience, Special Interests, and Accomplishments. If one area outweighs another as an asset, it should come before other sections.

References should always be presented on a separate page and not included with the resume. Prepare the reference page with the name, title, name of organization where the reference works, address, telephone number and email address of each reference. Make sure that your references are aware that you have included them on your list. On your resume, you can indicate References Available Upon Request.

Step 6: Creating Your Draft

Length: Your resume should be easy to read; if it is too lengthy or jumbled, your potential employer may disregard it. Most undergraduates should keep their resume to one page, but a two-page resume is an option for job seekers with more experience. If you are leaving out vital information because you want to keep your resume to one page, add a second page. Be sure to include your name on the second page.

Format: Balance the layout by making all four margins equal. Your resume should be visually pleasing at first glance. White space helps important information stand out to the reader.

Production: Use good quality 100% bond paper in a conservative in color such as white, gray, or beige. No unusual fonts.

Verbs: Describe your skills, abilities and accomplishments using action verbs. Use present tense for current duties and past tense for prior tasks. Do not include first person pronouns like “I” or “my.”

A few useful action verbs can be used to describe an abundance of job skills:

Management Skills

administered assigned attained delegated developed established executed improved increased oversaw produced supervised

Communication Skills

addressed composed directed explained formulated mediated negotiated promoted reconciled resolved translated wrote

Research Skills

analyzed clarified conducted diagnosed examined identified investigated organized researched reviewed solved surveyed

Technical Skills

adapted applied calculated designed devised fabricated maintained operated repaired solved upgraded utilized

Teaching Skills

advised coordinated enabled encouraged evaluated explained facilitated guided informed instructed stimulated tutored

Financial Skills

administered allocated appraised balanced computed estimated managed marketed planned projected reconciled reduced

Creative Skills

created composed founded initiated integrated introduced originated performed revitalized shaped

Helping Skills

advocated aided assisted demonstrate educated expedited familiarized motivated referred represented resolved supported

Administrative/Clerical or Detail Skills

approved arranged compiled distributed executed generated implemented prepared processed retrieved tabulated validated


Step 7: Ask for Feedback on Your Resume

Always get a second opinion on your resume. You know your intentions, but your wording might not be clear. In addition, a second opinion can help you correct mistakes and errors in format. Second opinions can come from an online critique through Career Services or from a personal appointment with a Career Advisor or Career Counselor. A friend, advisor, employer, or professor can also offer comments on your resume.

Step 8: Final Review

How does it look? Here is a checklist to help you evaluate:


  • Content is directly related to the position you are applying for
  • Name is at the top of the page and highlighted by large font
  • Descriptions are action verbs with a consistent verb tense; current job is in present tense while past jobs are in past tense
  • Work experience shows results of task performed
  • Measurement: Do your best to quantify your work experience
  • with results from your tasks
  • Repetition of words or phrases is kept to a minimum
  • Capitalization, punctuation, and date formats are consistent
  • There are no typos or spelling errors and grammar is correct
  • There is a rationale for each piece of information included


  • The best assets – whether education, experience, or skills – are listed first
  • The document is easily reviewed; categories are clear and text is indented when needed
  • The dates of employment are easy to find and are in a consistent format
  • Listings in different sections run from most recent to least recent


  • Bold text and capitalization are used minimally and consistently
  • Margins and line spacing keep the page from looking too jumbled or crowded
  • Spacing and font size are consistent
  • Font is easy to read and no smaller than 11 point size

Experience Your Career

You can explore exciting opportunities to find careers that align with your interests. We’ll help you connect with resources and guide you through creating strategies for finding jobs, internships, as well as volunteer and shadowing opportunities.

Experience Opportunities
Informational Interviewing

An informational interview is a conversation with someone who can give you advice about an organization, field of work, or a particular job that interests you. Your interviewee may be someone you already know like a supervisor, family friend or co-worker, or it may be with a stranger. Informational interviews can help you:

  • Determine if a career field is right for you
  • Discover new possibilities in your field
  • Gain insight into the realities of employment
  • Expand your professional network

Not ready to put yourself out there? Check out the following from the safety of your own computer:

Candid Career
Occupational Outlook Handbook
O*Net Online

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing is a critical but often overlooked element of career development that provides you with the unique opportunity to learn about the careers that interest you firsthand from professionals who do them every day. Shadowing opportunities, which may exist at half-day, full-day and longer lengths, are a great way to build your network and gain an insider’s perspective of the jobs that interest you most.

Career Services is here to help you access job shadowing opportunities across the state and beyond.


Volunteering, much like job shadowing or pursuing an internship, is a great way to gain experience, build your resume and create a professional network–all while giving back to your community, school or cause of your choice. You can volunteer at faith-based, nonprofit or government agencies–or even right here on campus.

Do Something!
Volunteer Match


An internship can be the first real-world experience you’ve had with your possible career path. Typically a semester or longer, an internship provides you with critical professional experience–before you graduate! An internship can:

  • Provide insight into the skills, responsibilities and opportunities associated with your major or desired field
  • Confirm or negate your major choice
  • Introduce you to networking contacts within your field
  • Help you secure a full-time position upon graduating

Search Internship In Senator Jobs

Get Job Search Help

Searching for a job can be challenging, confusing, and time consuming. Gathering tools and information on how to conduct a successful job search is key in obtaining employment.

Best Ways to Find a Job
What To Do In a Job Search

Ask for job leads from family members, friends, people in the community, and your career center.
Do extensive homework on yourself. Explore your personal values, interests, favorite and best skills, and where you would like to utilize those skills.

Use a directory or online resource to identify the employers/companies that you are interested in within a desired location. Then, call up the employers listed in that field, to ask if they are hiring for the type of position you are seeking.

Try to visit the employers/companies that interest you, whether they are known to have a vacancy or not.

Insider Tip: Consider obtaining an internship, doing volunteer work, participating in job shadowing or conducting an informational interview with those companies/employers that interest you. These are all activities that can potentially lead to future employment.

Top Places Employers Find New Hires
Company Internship Program
Employee Referrals

Company Co-op Program: Paid work sessions that involve projects or assignments that are closely related to a student’s area of study
Career/Job Fairs
Faculty Contacts

Online Job Postings: Found on the Senators Job Board
Student Clubs/Organizations: Visit the Student Involvement website to find the right organization

What Not to Do in a Job Search
  • Make a mistake on your resume. Employers typically get hundreds of resumes for each position they list and perfection counts.
  • Limit your job search by only applying to positions that meet your exact criteria.
  • Send out resumes at random. Resumes should be tailored to each position you apply for.
  • Only search for jobs online. Be sure to be proactive by using both online and offline job searching techniques.
  • Contradict yourself. If you are interviewing with several people make sure you keep your story straight. Telling one interviewer one thing and another something else is a good way not to get the job.
  • Insult or speak poorly of a former employer.
  • Show that you are desperate for ANY job. You want employers to believe that you want the job because it’s a good opportunity and you can be an asset to the company.
  • Give up! Even when the job market is tough you must keep motivated by having a positive and determined attitude.
The Job Search Checklist
  • Get Started Early
  • Looking for a job can potentially take many months and lots of time!
  • Not sure what you want to do or how to get there? Set up an appointment with a career counselor/advisor.
  • Stay committed to the job search.

Get Organized

  • Determine a timeline for your job search.
  • Make daily, weekly, and monthly plans/goals, committing a set amount of time per day to devote to the job search.
  • Keep a running to-do list and prioritize it!
  • Set up a filing system for contacts, articles, and ideas.
  • Follow-up and keep records by documenting all interviews, thank-you notes sent, referrals made and follow-ups.
  • Narrow down your search and only apply to those positions in which you are really qualified and interested in.

Get a Target

  • Target employers and companies that match your skill sets and related field of interest. Then do extensive research on their company.
  • Identify preferences in work type, industry, environment, geographical location, compensation, etc.
  • Research careers and employment trends. Helpful resources include the Planning Job Choices Magazine by National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and the American Business Journal, both available in Career Services.
  • Stay current. Read trade publications, comment on industry blogs and stay on top of any emerging technologies or policies that may affect your career path.

Get Professional

  • Set up an appropriate email address (i.e. john.smith@ and NOT
  • Make sure that your voicemail is appropriate and professional.
  • Examine your profiles on social media sites. Ask yourself: Is the content appropriate… are the pictures appropriate?
  • Develop an “Elevator Speech.” This should be a two-minute statement that can be told to an interviewer or potential employer. The “Elevator Speech” should include your background, your accomplishments, why you want to work at XYZ company and your future goals.
  • Join professional social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, to build a network and create contacts.

Get Going

  • Network! Talk to friends, family, and people in the community.
  • Make an appointment with a professor in your field of interest.
  • Apply for internships or do volunteer work especially in those companies/departments, for which you are interested in working.
  • Consider temporary work. There are temp agencies that can help you get short-term work, in places that need your skills.
  • Check job sites daily and set up alerts. These include Senator Job Board, LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.

Explore Grad School

Sometimes, even before a student has fully charted a career path, he or she will consider attending graduate or professional school.

As you continue to focus on where your career path can take you, it may become less a matter of what qualifications you need to enter into a particular occupational field and more what qualifications will permit you to advance with that field. You certainly owe it to yourself to research the pros and cons of training at a master’s, doctoral, or other graduate academic level.

The first step in researching graduate study is to decide whether, in fact, graduate school is for you. If it is, then how can you choose the best program for you? There are many factors to consider, and you should consider them all – perhaps in discussion with a Career Counselor.

However daunting the prospect of graduate or professional training may be it can often open more doors in a chosen career path.

Graduate programs seek specialized knowledge and offer study concentrated in one area.

A master’s degree can be an entry to new, better job opportunities in business, industry, government, education, and more.

A doctorate degree can open doors to college teaching, research, and corporate positions involving research and analytical skills.

Should I Go to Graduate School?

When deciding whether to go to graduate school, do a personal inventory of your career goals, your motives for attending graduate school, and your level of readiness to pursue more education. Listed below are some types of questions to consider:

Identify Career Goals

  • What are my values and how do they relate to my career choice?
  • What are my professional interests?
  • What skills can I bring to the workplace?
  • Have I interviewed professionals in my field to gain valuable career information?
  • What are the necessary steps to achieve my career goals?
  • What type of graduate or professional degree will best prepare me to enter my career of interest?

Assess Purpose

  • Is a graduate degree essential to getting into my desired career field?
  • What are my reasons for wanting to attend graduate school?
  • By deciding to attend graduate school, am I simply trying to avoid the job search?
  • Is graduate work the next logical step to becoming a professional in my field?

Assess Readiness

  • Do I have a clear sense of the career I want to pursue?
  • Do I have a solid understanding of what graduate or professional school entails?
  • Am I ready to immerse myself in the study of this particular academic discipline?
  • Am I willing to do the work required to succeed in a graduate program?
  • Should I gain more experience in the field before pursuing a graduate or professional degree?
  • Do I currently have the financial resources or financial assistance to complete a graduate or professional program?
  • Is it possible that a future employer might agree to pay for my graduate education?
Choosing a Graduate or Professional School

There are several things to consider when you are trying to decide on a graduate school or program, including: type, size, and location of the institution, cost of attendance, quality of faculty, specializations offered, facilities, and environment of the institution.

Type and Size of Institution
Small institutions can offer more personal attention and provide a strong sense of community. Large institutions tend to have more extensive facilities and libraries. Keep in mind that large enrollment does not necessarily mean an impersonal atmosphere.

Private institutions usually do not distinguish between resident and nonresident students for tuition. In order to provide adequate resources and opportunities for research, private institutions may offer fewer areas of specialization.

Public institutions are generally less expensive than private institutions. In addition, they will sometimes waive nonresident tuition and fees under certain circumstances.

Location of Institution
Decide whether you prefer an institution in an urban or rural area. Urban areas can offer more cultural resources and research/employment opportunities. However, if you are accustomed to a more rural environment, you may find the city distracting, expensive, and tense.

  • Take into account the weather as well as in the political and social climate of the area.
  • Investigate cultural and recreational activities.
  • Consider the impact the location might have on your relationship with family and friends.

Keep in mind, difficulty of admission is not necessarily an indication of the quality of program quality.

Look at the types of facilities on campus to get an indication of the priorities of the institution (i.e. number and type of library holdings vs. size of athletic stadium).

Program Details

  • Identify what specializations are offered.
  • Find out how much time is required to complete the program.
  • Research whether the focus of the program is on theory and research or practical application of knowledge.
  • Be sure the program is accredited.
  • Find out whether the program is new or well established.
  • Look into the program’s student composition.
  • Investigate whether the program offers real world experiences such as practicums and internships.
  • Identify the resources available (i.e. technology, equipment, libraries).
  • Determine opportunities for research.
  • Find out about the possibility in participating in foreign exchange programs.
  • Find out how much attention is given to multicultural and international issues.


  • Look into the faculty-student ratio.
  • Investigate the characteristics of the faculty including:
  • Research interests
  • Education/expertise
  • Recognition
  • Publications
  • Diversity
  • Involvement in graduate school community
  • Know the teaching/research balance of faculty members who interest you.


  • Explore the campus. Does the institution have attractive, pleasant, and comfortable facilities and surroundings?
  • Identify student services offered (i.e. disability, career, counseling, health, and legal services).
  • Research the school’s academic reputation, opportunities for involvement, and networking opportunities.
  • Find out availability and condition of campus housing.

Cost of Attendance

  • Identify resident/non-resident tuition and fees.
  • Identify types of financial aid.
  • Find out the availability of teaching and research assistantships.
  • Find out housing costs.


  • Check graduate catalogs online or request them from admissions for different college and universities.
  • Visit the campus.
  • Talk to students currently in the program and find out what graduates of the program are doing now.

Helpful Websites

  • Graduate Guide: Allows you to search for graduate schools by keyword, major, and state and also lists details on college fairs and conferences
  • Petersons: On-line planner to research colleges, universities, and their graduate programs
  • Graduate Schools: Excellent links and a searchable database of graduate school information by school, subject, etc.