One of my program’s favorite things to say is “it depends” when it comes to situations in counseling and mental health. The same can be applied to nearly every situation in life, especially the decision on where to go to graduate school.

Personally, I applied to four schools; three in New Jersey, plus Penn. The three New Jersey schools were “ranked” differently, however their demographics were mainly the same. Small schools, small towns, small(er) community outreach. When I approached the application process, I tried to stay as close to home as possible to live with my parents in South Jersey (something that I ended up not even doing) and considering the financials.

The thing is; you’ve decided to go to graduate school. There are so many factors that can make things “easier” or more “practical”, but instead shouldn’t we be thinking about what will challenge me further? What will take me out of my comfort zone?

Penn was that for me. All of the schools had something to offer, don’t get me wrong anyone would be lucky to attend any of the institutions I looked at. However, when I sat down and considered my career goals, my personal aspirations, and the things that truly made me happy, Penn fit into that. It felt like the true next step in my life, the next adventure, both academically and personally.

Thus far Penn has proved that assumption I made in the Spring of last year. I have been exposed to the professionalism and academically challenging atmosphere that I was looking for. My ideas are challenged, my career aspiration sprouts new branches with each passing day, and I am completely immersed into a community that I always imagined myself becoming a part of.

The bottom line is, determining which graduate school is for you is all about you. You are the one putting in the time, the effort, the expenses, the heart and soul. The decision is yours. I can’t imagine having chosen anywhere else but Penn for graduate school, however just because I love it doesn’t mean that everyone else will, or has to.

I encourage anyone considering graduate school to start your research as soon as you can. Immerse yourself into the facts and figures of different programs, sit down and really ask yourself what do you want to be when you grow up? This question is still totally relevant if you consider yourself a grown up too, because we’re always growing. There is always the opportunity to do something different.

And if you choose to apply to Penn,I’d be happy to show you around.