If you are trying to choose a Masters degree program, one thing you need to consider is how selective the school is you want to apply to. In theory this should matter. Each professor should have a high standard and students who don’t meet that standard should fail out. However in practice it’s not so simple. Many classes require group learning experiences where you will do projects with your peers. If you’re working with a lot of talented smart peers this can be a very beneficial process. However if you’re working with a lot of peers who have no business pursuing a Masters degree it can be very difficult and even torture.
On one hand there is some value in learning how to work with difficult incompetent people. It’s a real-world skill that you are going to need regardless of what field you go into. However you don’t want that learning experience to detract from your experience of actually learning the course content. If you go to a school that is fairly selective in sales out students early on this will be less of a problem.
There are several different ways for a school to be selective. Many schools are highly selective in who they allow to enter the program in the first place. Many masters degree programs have extensive applications that require you to submit all kinds of information, take tests, etc. before you can be admitted. On one hand this can be good. They can weed out a lot of people who shouldn’t be trying to pursue a Masters degree. This type of approach is very good in weeding out people who don’t have enough mastery of the English language to making graduate school.
On the other hand this type of approach requires a great deal of work in is sometimes difficult to judge. People who are in charge of admissions at most colleges have a very poor track record of being yelled to predict which students are going to succeed and which ones are not. In fact their ability to choose often is no better than chance. The admission barriers simply require a student to put in a certain amount of work just to apply to the program. This helps weed out some people who would not be successful but the data obtained from the admissions process isn’t something that admissions professionals can use to predict how well a given student will do in the program.
Another approach is to allow pretty much anyone to start the program by taking some classes. Students can start out by taking two or three classes from a prescribed list. The schools arrange the list and require certain classes to be taken before you can apply forward mission that includes some easy and some hard classes. This gives the students a good taste of what it will be like once they apply for the program and it also gives the school a good idea of whether or not they’re going to be successful in actually doing the coursework. This is the type of approach that is favored by Harvard extension school and it does a great job of keeping their educational programs open to anyone who can successfully complete them without requiring students to jump through a bunch of hoops simply to see if they’re willing to work hard enough at the admissions process to predict that they may do well in school.
Another thing worth considering when trying to choose a college to pursue a Masters degree is how the school benefit. This is particularly important when you’re looking at for-profit schools. A for-profit school have a lot of incentive to keep students in the program so they can can can you to get their money. If they fail students out they stop making money from those students. On the other hand some for-profit schools take all your money up front. You can complete the work you don’t even end up in the higher-level classes.
When evaluating masters degree programs you may want to take a close look at how many people fail out. If the number is too high it may indicate that the program is not very good at teaching students. On the other hand it may indicate that they accept a great number of students that should not be pursuing a Masters degree in the first place. If the number is too low it could indicate that they have fabulous teachers. However more than likely indicates that the coursework is not sufficient to differentiate between those who should be pursuing a Masters degree and those who are not going to be able to obtain a sufficient level of skills to truly perform at the Masters level. You don’t want to graduate from the school that is known for passing everyone. You don’t want to try to graduate from a program that’s known for failing everyone either. However, I could blend between students who make it in students that don’t is going to be the healthiest situation you can hope for. You should be able to get these statistics from the admissions department.
Choosing a selective school to pursue your Masters degree helps ensure that you’re getting a degree that will be valuable over the course of your career. It also helps ensure that you’re going to be old and maximize your time spent learning and minimize the time dealing with incompetent fellow students.