APPLYING TO GRAD SCHOOL, POST #1: You decided to apply to grad school; now what?

Knowing how/where to start was the hardest thing for me. The process varies for each person; for me, I started by making a list.

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Figure out what you want in your grad program, so you know how to begin deciding where to apply. You don’t need to have a plan for the rest of your life/career, but deciding which programs to apply to is VERY daunting, so it helps to break it up.
Where do you want to study? Geography matters more than you might think it does. Grad school is going to be stressful, so the least you can do is be in a location you enjoy. Coast vs. inland, big city vs. small city vs. rural, and cost-of-living, etc. are all things to consider.
Now you can start looking at programs in those areas. You might already have a set of qualities you know you want in your grad program, but if you don’t, you can just start clicking through and reading the websites of a few programs and see how they make you feel.
For me,...
I found that I wanted a program that seemed supportive but also allowed a lot of independent work and interdisciplinary collaboration, and since I'm not married to the idea of academia, I wanted a program that provided exposure to and preparation for non-academic careers as well.
As you learn more about the differences that can exist between programs in your field, you’ll learn what makes you excited/indifferent/repulsed. It’s a rough start, but it gets easier as you go, I promise!

Keep in mind: the list you're making now isn't final; it's just a start!
You can follow @Mel_Swang.
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