5. Focus on your chosen course of study.
Once you have eliminated all but one or two likely programs, you should begin first-hand research. This process may seem like hard work but, because of the amount of time, energy, and money you will eventually be allocating to your final choice, now is the time to be certain of your selection.
Approach the course coordinator. Explain your hopes and background, and discuss the appropriateness of the course for someone in your position.
Seek evidence. Ask the coordinator for evidence from student evaluations and course reviews, as well as labour market research on graduate employability, salaries, and career success. In an age of high competitive-ness, most reputable institutions have such data readily available.
Approach previous students. The coordinator should be able to provide you with the names of graduates – and drop-outs. Ask graduates how the course affected their skills, outlook, and careers. Inquire about course basics – the quality of lectures, tutorials, assignments, staff assistance, and so on. Would they hire a graduate from the course? Have they heard of similar or better programs offered elsewhere?
Check gender issues. Women might be interested in the extent to which gender issues are addressed in the program, the number of female students and staff, and the degree to which the course is female-friendly.
Consider the on-line possibilities. Increasingly, for those with heavy family, work, and other commitments, tertiary institutions are offering online study opportunities for busy students. Investigate this possibility in your areas of interest.