Does location matter when choosing a graduate school?

Student sitting on a Portland rooftop

Choosing a school for your graduate degree is a daunting task for everyone who is pursuing their education. Even with months of research, tours and conversations, there will always be a degree of uncertainty. Every college has a unique set of opportunities based on the combination of program, size, history, location, alumni network and a host of other factors, and you have to define your own priorities for what matters most. For many, the location is a lower priority compared to the quality and rigor of the academic program and the student experience and campus culture. However, there is a case to be made about how important location is as a factor when choosing where you’ll go to school. 

The network

A university isn’t just its campus.In graduate school, you have the opportunity to be immersed in a new community, surrounded by people who come from different backgrounds and cultures. Consider the industries and regional firms that you will be exposed to, and think about how local internships, CO-OPs and volunteer work can strengthen your skills and bolster your resume. 

The quality of life

It’s important to understand the area surrounding that campus and how you’ll feel living in that environment as you balance school and social life. Factors such as access to transportation, manageable cost of living and nearby amenities all make a significant impact on your quality of life. It’s also important to feel comfortable with the cultural and social environment of your community. 

The professional opportunities

The strength of a favorable location really becomes apparent for career advancement and professional opportunities after, and even during, your time at the university. Investmenting in your education and professional network pays off when you put yourself in the best position to unlock opportunities and excel in your field. Understanding the opportunities in your college location can help put you in the best position to make the most of your time in school. Companies, non-profit organizations and government agencies are always looking for new talent,and students who capitalize on their proximity to these opportunities will leave school with the most competitive work experience. 

“Is Portland right for me?” 

The answer for many, and quite possibly the answer for you, is yes. Portland is an extremely unique location with very few comparable cities. The combination of a thriving economic center with impressive job opportunities paired with a beautiful ecological environment makes it a perfect place for many students. A 2019 Brookings study on the Portland economy found that over the past decade, the metro area production of goods and services expanded at one of the highest rates across the country: “the high concentration of tradable industries—collections of firms that sell goods and services outside the metro area—helped boost productivity by 22 percent and increase average wages by 12 percent.” 

Portland is famously home to some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the country with endless mountains, hiking trails, gardens and waterfalls to explore. Many areas boast beautiful scenic opportunities or thriving economies, but the combination of the two is what drives thousands of people to Portland every year. Portland State University is proud of the community we call home, anyone who wants a closer look at the PSU campus can schedule a self-guided tour as the university prepares for the return to campus Fall 2021. 

When deciding what university is the right fit for you, remember you will spend years living, working and learning in that area. The location should be a strength of the college and add more opportunities.

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