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You can find a better version of my blog at http://www.adammarkus.com/blog/.

Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

March 19, 2008

School Selection: Location Matters!

This is the second in series of posts on school selection for both those in the process of selecting where to apply to and those deciding where to attend. The first post is here. The third post is here.

LOCATION really does matter. Be sure that you will be able to thrive in whatever kind of place you will be studying in. Some people really do need less distracting (rural) environments, others need warm locations, and students with school age children really do need to think about this issue as well. I certainly would not say location is necessarily the most important factor, but if you are thinking of being somewhere for a year or more, it should certainly be taken into consideration. For those who don't want to relocate, location obviously is a primary factor, but what follows are for those who are planning on doing so.

Some questions to think about:

1. Will the location help or hinder my studies? For some people, going to school in a small town would be a great way to stay focused, but for other people it would be torture. For some the distractions of a big city would be fatal to their studies, while for others it would only facilitate them. If your studies are highly dependent on or will be greatly enhanced by access to location specific specific resources, think carefully about this issue.

2. Is the school located in a safe place? Everyone has different conceptions of what a safe place is. For US schools, see College and University Campus Crime Statistics. Also take a look at the crime rates in the city that your school will be located in. Given the recent horrible tragedies to hit US schools, I know that some applicants will be looking closely at this issue, especially because of pressure from parents. For a Wharton student's perspective on crime in Philadelphia, see here.

3. What is the availability, cost, and quality of housing?
Related to location, really think about what kind of place you need/want to live in. There is such huge variation on this and it is unlikely to be fully revealed by the estimated cost of housing that schools will provide you with. I strongly suggest asking students once you are admitted. In addition to the school's housing office, craigslist is one great resource for finding housing.

4. The transportation infrastructure: (public transportation and availability of parking). Invariably campus parking is a pain, but that said, if you are going to be doing a commute to get to school, you should at least look into this. For those who don't know how or don't want to drive (For the record, I fit into both categories), you should really consider this issue.

5. If the school is not located in a major city, how easy is it to get access to a major airport? Easy airport access is quite important if you will need to travel for job interviews, academic conferences, or just to get away from your little college town.

6. Does the school's location support my personal or family's needs? For some individuals, such as Orthodox Jews and observant Muslims, having easy access to appropriate places of worship as well as acceptable food are critical. For others, it will be access to good schools for their kids. Whatever your personal or family needs are, you should consider them when applying to a school. It is best to do your homework on this issue first and take nothing for granted, especially if you are applying to school located in a small town.

Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to. If you are planning to apply for an MBA, LL.M., Ph.D., or a Masters and would like to learn more about my consulting services, please visit http://adammarkus.com/. I offer a free initial consultation.

-Adam Markus
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