What they don’t tell you about searching for a master’s degree program

Posted by Granite State College on Mar 26, 2015 2:10:00 PM

Think about purchasing a home

Grad_school_check_blog_graphic-696454-editedlt’s an enormous investment and when you’re in the market, you invest a lot of yourself in that search. You chat with friends and family who have recently gone through the experience. You can do a ton of research online. You can even download apps that will show you listings that fit your exact criteria. On top of that, you can get a real estate agent who you trust and will work hard to find your dream home.

Now think about enrolling for a master’s degree.

It’s not quite as expensive as purchasing a home (hopefully!), but it’s another important and very personal search. You can once again ask for the advice of your loved ones. You can search online, read lists of rankings and reports, and discuss it with a representative from the College or University.

But when there’s a selection of programs that will suit your needs, the search suddenly becomes infinitely more complicated.

The tricky part (and the part nobody really talks about) is that local colleges are really working hard to develop high quality, relevant, and affordable degree programs and they’re doing a great job. They’re making their programs more affordable, more convenient for working professionals, and easier to access.

It creates a good news/bad news scenario for potential students: having options is amazing but it can be a huge challenge when it’s not clear which one to pick.

Does this sound familiar? What can you do to move forward?

Think real estate: you’re the buyer and the potential graduate programs are the motivated sellers. Just like a real estate agent would steer you away from properties outside of your criteria, you can take this approach when finding your master’s degree program.

Of course it’s not easy to separate yourself from the search process. A real estate agent doesn’t have to live in the house they sell to a client—they don’t need to live with the result. You however will be deeply tied to the result of your master’s degree search, so how do you shift your approach?

We put together our tips for executing your search for a master’s program with the focus and determination of a real estate powerhouse.

Here are five steps to becoming your own college search agent.

1. Criteria – what are your “must haves”?

To think like a college search agent, you’ll need to be highly aware of which features are the most important to you. Is it affordability? How quickly do you want to start? Do you want to study online or on campus or both? How soon do you want to earn a degree? Do you want a broad program that’s applicable in any field or a niche area of study? Are you willing to take a GRE or GMAT?

2. Rank it.

Distractions happen. We have all gone to the grocery store and purchased items that weren’t on our original list. Maybe you had the intention of buying the generic version and ended up with the name brand instead. In most cases… no biggie. But you don’t want this to happen with your college search—you can potentially lose time, money, and experiences that you would’ve really valued.

The beauty of developing your criteria and ranking it is that you build up a natural defense against these distractions.

3. Stick to your guns and limit negotiations

Referring back to the real estate analogy for a moment… if having a yard is a must then a good real estate agent is not going to show the client a house on a postage stamp-sized lot.

Let’s say that your top priority is to finish a degree in less than two years. You’re also interested in programs that offer diverse electives, but that’s further down your list. If you happen upon a program with amazing elective courses that you’d love to study but the program takes four years to complete, you’ll need to stay true to your criteria. It’s a tough call, but it allows you to stay focused on your goals.

Only consider the most relevant “listings” so you don’t end up giving your attention to master’s degree programs that won’t ultimately make you happy. Critically examine your criteria alongside the features of the potential master’s degree programs and aim to narrow it down to two or three.

4. Narrow it down and inquire

When your list of potential schools is wittled down, it’s a great time to reach out.

With your refined criteria and your ability to stick to these perimeters, you’ll be able to forge a really productive conversation with representatives from your master’s degree program.

Be sure to have your criteria handy. If you’re speaking with someone on the phone, have it nearby. If you’re meeting face-to-face, bring it in a padfolio. We already addressed how it’s easy to get distracted. It’s also easy to forget to ask a question that’s important to your decision.

5. Make your choice!

At this point, you should have one or two programs that fit your needs. Use your criteria (or at this point, your gut instinct) to make your final choice and submit your applications.

And of course, congratulate yourself. You found your master’s degree program and you didn’t even have to pay a finder’s fee (college searching is so much better than house hunting!).


With the added structure you get from thinking like an agent, you can feel confident that you’re moving in the right direction as you narrow down your options.

Download Winning your Grad School Search Checklist and move closer to finding the right master’s degree program.

Click her to download a free checklist for your grad school search


Topics: Graduate Studies

Interested in becoming a teacher? Learn how one graduate is making a difference in Coos county

Posted by Granite State College on Mar 19, 2015 7:30:00 PM


Have you ever asked a teacher why they chose a career in education? In their explanation, they’re sure to exude passion for their work. Even if you know that teaching isn’t for you, hearing a teacher’s answer will often have you feeling inspired.

Teach.org did a great job at bottling this energy when they put together a blog of their top "7 Reasons Why Becoming a Teacher is Awesome:"

  1. Be a leader kids can look up to
  2. Give kids the skills they need to compete in a challenging global market
  3. Create new and innovative lesson plans
  4. Become an expert in your subject
  5. Be the most important person to many families
  6. Fulfill your true calling
  7. Shape our future

There’s a strong common thread here. Becoming a teacher is all about making a difference.

Granite State College has the opportunity to be a small part of a teacher’s journey. It’s something that means a lot to the institution.

The facts and figures show that our education students are working in almost every single school district in the state. A recent report announced that teachers from our programs have an 85% hire rate in New Hampshire.

This is incredible reach that makes GSC proud, but there’s just something different and powerful when you see this impact in action.

This is how we felt when alumna Sue Cloutier was in the news for being Named Recipient of the Sylvia Evans Award. Cloutier received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Granite State College.

"I have been working with young children since before mine were even born and I continue to do it because I know that child care providers do the most important job in the world," Cloutier said.

"We have both the responsibility and the ability to influence children's entire lives. We are helping to raise the future leaders of our community. Every day in the field of early childhood education there is a new adventure. That is what captured my interest early on and what has kept me in the field for over 30 years," she said.

Cloutier emerged as the 2015 honoree for building a true legacy in her community. In her career as a teacher, she has served a leadership role and at the Gorham Community Learning Center and the Early Childhood Education Center at White Mountains Community Center.

Becoming a teacher is all about making a difference, just as Sue Cloutier has demonstrated. Congrats, Sue! We hope your story inspires others who dream of becoming a teacher!

For our current and future teachers, what reasons inspire you to pursue this career?

Thank you to the Berlin Daily Sun's Barbara Tetreault for covering Sue Cloutier’s accomplishments!


Topics: Teacher Certification, Alumni, In the News

2014 Commencement Highlights

Posted by Granite State College on Mar 9, 2015 12:17:20 PM

Countdown to Commencement!

In less than 100 days, we will celebrate Commencement for the Class of 2015.

Let's revisit all of the wonderful moment's from last year's graduation!


Setting up the Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook, which will once again serve as the venue for Commencement.



It's always a family affair!



The graduates lining up for the processional.


Picture perfect!


The recipient of the Honorary Doctorate Degree, Jeremy Hitchcock, CEO of Dyn.


Someone is proud of their #granitegrad!


A touching tribute.


The Class of 2014 graduate students posing for a group shot.



Stay tuned for more updates on the 2015 Commencement Ceremony and be sure to save the date!

Sunday, June 7, 2015  |  Noon
Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion at Meadowbrook  | Gilford, NH


Topics: Commencement 2015

Is a master’s degree worth it?

Posted by Granite State College on Mar 6, 2015 8:30:00 AM

For the past few years, there have been countless headlines about student loan debt, especially in New Hampshire where the state has topped lists ranking the highest levels of student debt in the country. It’s an important issue that potential students need to consider and an important issue that College’s need to respond to (read more about our approach in our white paper, $10,000 bachelor's degree).

If undergraduate loan debt is a factor, how can you consider a master’s degree? Should you even try?

If you read our recent white paper on the $10,000 bachelor’s degree, you’ve learned that Granite State College really works to make an undergraduate degree possible, especially for those who have a financial need. Potential graduate students can expect the same commitment to affordability.

Even so, any potential graduate student needs to deeply examine if a master’s can benefit their career goals—it can be an incredibly advantage for some, while others may want to pursue other means to get ahead.

Where should you start? We’ve put together a few suggestions in our latest guide:  Is a master's degree worth it? In this download, you can learn about various ways to help measure the impact and value of a master’s degree for you. It also comes with a checklist to further help you determine if the investment in a graduate degree is a good fit for you.




Topics: Affordability, Graduate Studies

Meet Elizabeth | Milford, NH

Posted by Granite State College on Feb 25, 2015 11:45:00 AM


Enhancing your leadership qualities can permeate all the other aspects of your life. Elizabeth from Milford, NH, is the perfect example.

Along her journey, Elizabeth developed effective leadership practices that not only advanced her own goals, she applied what she learned to build and support leadership within her community. In the end, this gave her a rich experience that offered academic, personal, and professional fulfillment.

Academic Fulfillment

Elizabeth was interested in a graduate program long before she found the Master of Science in Leadership at Granite State College. She had even tried a master’s program at another institution, but it didn’t match up well with her lifestyle as a working professional. Finding GSC’s Leadership program was a game changer.

I wanted to make sure that a master’s program wasn’t going to negatively affect my family life. I’m someone who wants to do it all and Granite State has given this to me. I’m able to be successful in my full-time job. I’m able to have a personal life, quality time with my family, and I’m able to be a successful student. The online format allows me to log in when I want and wherever I am, so I’m still able to go on vacation – I just take my computer with me.

Personal Fulfillment

Outside of work and school, Elizabeth is passionate about the local food economy. She is a regular at her local farmer’s market and she was concerned when she noticed that it wasn’t as vibrant as year’s past.

I wanted to provide support, so I asked how I could help. I found out that they were in a period of transitional leadership. The founders of the farmer’s market had been running things for the past 36 years. They also run a fulltime farm and were finding that the operations of both, along with everything else in their personal life, were getting to be too much. They were identifying a new manager but in the interim, they needed support.

Using concepts that she was exploring in the Master of Science in Leadership, Elizabeth worked with the founders to solidify a marketing plan, introduce social media, and get things back on track.

My goal was to help bridge that gap during the transition in leadership.Now the farmer’s market is moving forward and thriving with their new management.

Professional Fulfillment

Elizabeth began her career in Human Resources through a temporary position. She learned quickly, grew as a professional, and proved to be an asset in the workplace. Her supervisors saw her potential, and Elizabeth earned a role as a full-time, permanent employee. There is a lot of synergy between Elizabeth’s professional career in Human Resources and the M.S. in Leadership.

The Leadership curriculum linked to my work in human resources so seamlessly. Everything just fed into each other. Through my professional experience, I had a lot to offer to the discussion and could share real-life, career-relevant examples that were relevant to the topics in our classes.

Because Leadership spoke to so many areas of her life, Elizabeth thrived as a student in the Master of Science in Leadership program. In June 2014, she participated in Commencement. Elizabeth will continue to foster leadership in everything she does and looks forward to living her life with this purpose.


Download our course schedule. Learn how you can start or return to college.

Topics: Register for classes, Leadership, Finding your passion, Graduate Studies

Reaching her fullest potential

Posted by Granite State College on Feb 13, 2015 1:57:21 PM

Susan reached a point where she looked at her life critically.
How satisfied am I? What am I doing to contribute to my growth as a person, my community, and my family?

This self-reflection was fueled by Susan’s career aspirations. A marketing professional turned stay at home mom, once her kids were grown and comfortable, Susan was eager to find a new sense of purpose.

I didn’t want to go back into work for a paycheck. I wanted to go back to work to make a difference.

She was attracted most to teaching. She knew she needed to go back to college to reach this goal. Susan acknowledged that making this leap, no matter how carefully planned, would have an impact on her family. She needed compromise and support from her family.


It was a shift and we had to all be on the same team. I had to accept that it was OK if to cut back in certain areas. It’s not

about what mom isn’t able to do now that she’s a student. It’s about creating a legacy so my children can see my example.

With her support system strong and secure, Susan began to study at a private college in New Hampshire but for Susan, the program didn’t quite fit. Susan sought a school that was fluid and one that would embrace her as an individual.

Then Susan found the teacher certification programs at Granite State College. Not only did it provide her with the education she needed to make a career transition, but Susan valued that at GSC, the teacher certification programs would enable her to holistically improve herself, her classmates, community, and family.

Susan is passionate about her new opportunities and passionate about sharing her story with others who are trying to find their way.

Any dream you have is worth fighting for. You can’t let anything get in the way of pursuing your potential and for me, I found that education is the key.

The legacy that Susan wanted to build to inspire her family took effect sooner rather than later: Susan’s husband Nathan is now pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Granite State!

Download our course schedule. Learn how you can start or return to college.


Topics: Career Transitions, Teacher Certification, Register for classes, Adult Student

#TBT Why Our Students Love Granite State College

Posted by Granite State College on Feb 12, 2015 6:07:00 AM




In 2012, Granite State College celebrated its 40th anniversary on campus and online by asking students to take a moment to share what GSC means to them—to reflect on the people, courses, and experiences that provided inspiration to achieve their goals and build a bright future. It was a compelling (and fun!) way for students to participate.

The results were incredible, inspirational, and straight from the heart.  In their own words, read what our students love about GSC:


  • I was 36 years old with really no idea what I wanted to do next in life. I had been in the U.S. Navy for over 9 years, I owned my own successful business, and had sold it prior to relocating to my wife’s hometown in NH. I began working in manufacturing and my manager encouraged me to go to college and get my degree.

    My reaction:  “I will be 40 years old before I could finish my degree!” His response: “you can turn 40 with or without a degree, the choice is yours and no one is promised tomorrow.”

    I began my college adventure at Granite State College and graduated with a B.S. in Business Management and a 3.98 GPA. A couple months later, I applied for a competitive Naval Officer program and was selected as one of the eleven candidates for Officer Candidate School. I graduated from OCS at the age of 41—just barely making the maximum age limit. I have been in this position for over three years now and it’s one of the best jobs you could hope for.

    I have been fortunate enough to do some really neat things in life, like being stationed onboard a nuclear ballistic missile submarine, being a Navy Diver and locking out of submarines, building a successful company, and now the honor to be a Naval Officer. I would not be where I am today without Granite State College.

    I have returned to GSC once again, this time to complete my M.S. in Project Management. I am not sure where the master’s degree will take me, but what I do know is that I am ready for the adventure that it brings next. Thank you to the staff and to Granite State College for opening so many doors for my family. Life isn’t perfect, but life is good!  ~Scottie A.
  • I was devastated when I got laid off from my job a few years ago. Jobs were very hard to find, but I was able to obtain one as a para-educator with the condition that I would get state certified. GSC offered all of the classes that were required. My academic coach then encouraged me to go on to finish the associate degree that I had started 30 years ago. This would now be my third attempt at doing so. My coach was a tremendous help and provided encouragement for me. My instructors were also very wonderful; I cannot say enough good things about them. I’m happy to say that I graduated in June 2012. I was very much honored to be named a Class Marshal, as well as being inducted as a member into Alpha Sigma Lambda. Thank you GSC for making it possible for me to accomplish a lifelong dream!  ~ Theresa R.
  • Granite State College has the best program for teacher certification! I was talking to my colleagues just today and they said how wonderful it is to be able to participate in a field-based program. Many of them obtained their certification without ever having set foot in a classroom (except student teaching), and they wish they could have participated in a program such as this. Thank you GSC! ~Kathleen S.
  • I knew that to pursue further job growth in my career, I would need to get a bachelor’s degree, but with two jobs, five kids, and an economic recession, I did not think it would be possible. Granite State College offered an online bachelor’s degree program in a field I love and which perfectly suits my background and future goals - Applied Studies with a concentration in Education and Training. Each term, I love the content of my courses and I get the opportunity to meet some of the most inspiring people I’ve ever known. These people have encouraged me, laughed at/with me, and supported me while I unexpectedly added hospice care for my mom to my plate. Because of the online format, I never had to suspend studies while I cared for her. In fact, the school work I got done in her quiet home was a mutual benefit—I could focus on my coursework and my mother didn’t feel a burden to me or my family. During this time, the discussion postings of my classmates gave me focus and perspective - so many of them had or were going through similar experiences! I am so proud of myself, but I am also extremely proud of these strangers whom I have never met, but have made my life so much richer. ~Lisa W.

If you're a current student, comment on why YOU love Granite State College!

If you are a family member or friend of a Granite State College sudent, leave some love and encouragement for them in the comment section.

Happy Valentine's Day!

-Granite State College



Topics: Career Transitions, Teacher Certification, Adult Student

Our Commitment to Affordability

Posted by Granite State College on Feb 9, 2015 9:22:00 AM


More than 40 years ago Granite State College was founded, embracing a powerful mission. No matter where you live, no matter your age, no matter your income bracket, if you’re motivated to pursue a college education, you should have access to it.

Granite State College offers the most affordable bachelor’s degree in New England: in-state students pay $285 per credit, out-of-state students pay $315 , and fees are kept low at less than $100 per term.
With a focus on affordability and a focus on accessibility, Granite State College offers additional qualities that make a bachelor’s degree even more affordable.


Download Our White Paper  Granite State's $10,000 Bachelor's Degree






What do you do when the job you love slips away?

Posted by Granite State College on Jan 16, 2015 2:45:00 PM

Blog_Image_LaurenProfessionally, Lauren was in a great place. She had a fulfilling job and she was committed to the organization. When a major contract was lost at work, so was Lauren’s job. With little preparation, Lauren had to design a new career trajectory.

When you’re in a situation where you’re not sure what to do next, you ask yourself what’s most important to you and that’s where I started.

Lauren’s professional background is comprised of experience in three primary areas: health care, military, and education with a focus on training and development.

After some deep reflection, she identified the latter as her specialty. This is where Lauren wanted to seek out new opportunities and she decided that returning to college for a master’s degree would help her get started in this new direction.

I got my undergraduate degree at Granite State and when I was looking for graduate programs, I sort of ran into their M.S. in Project Management but I was one of those students who discovered the M.S. in Leadership, which was a much better fit for me.

Lauren made school her top priority. She invested herself fully and incorporated it into her daily routine and she soon regained the fulfillment that she had found in her previous job.

I built my life around my graduate program: working part-time, making room for my master’s degree. I soon found that the evening, when I returned home to study, was my favorite part of the day. Everything we learn in the graduate programs is relevant to who you are, what you do for a living, and how you’ve chosen to build your career.

As a student, Lauren was often reassured about her decision. She gained supporters who provided encouragement and helped her provide more definition to her career pathway.

My mother returned to college as an adult student herself and she is the most supportive—I sometimes think she wishes that I had done this sooner. I also have a faculty member who provides support as a mentor. I’ve had some really hard times that I’ve had to get through and she’s always been there for me. She treats our relationship as a colleague trying to help me be the best person I can be, telling me to “get back in the game because you can do this!”

Lauren’s career hit a wall several years ago; today, she has found happiness and purpose.

Do you need to define what’s next in your career? Download our Getting Started Guide, which includes step-by-step suggestions for how you can find direction in your career.

Download Getting Started Guide


Your next step

Connecting college to your goals

Granite State College offers affordable associate, bachelor's, and master's degrees at 11 locations in New Hampshire and online 24/7. We were founded to meet the needs of busy working adults, and any student who is looking for a certain level of flexibility to meet their goals.

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