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What are the most salient questions/most important info to get from visits and fairs?


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Title says it all--when visiting potential public policy/international affairs programs, or else at a graduate school fair with a large number of different programs represented, what information is most important to get? Obviously, most statistics, requirements, course info, etc can be found on program websites. So what sort of questions are the most productive, in order to get the best sense of whether you should take the next step and apply to a school?

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I would say two of the most important questions are:

1. What sort of financial aid/funding do you offer?

2. Where do your graduates end up working?

Even though some schools will have some information on financial aid on their websites, I found that representatives at grad school fairs were typically very (and sometimes brutally) honest about how things work out in reality.

On the second question, if you have a specific sector (public/private/non-profit), region or issue area (environment/trade/development) you are interested in, make sure plenty of the schools' grads actually do that. That will mean not only relevant coursework, but probably a career services office with some idea of the job finding process and an established alumni network in that area. For example, a lot of Denver students work in the non-profit sector, UCSD is great for the Pacific Rim, and SAIS does well with placements in the World Bank.

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