If you want to take advice from bloggers, they're generally happy to give it. I've written a bit about my own motivation in selecting programs. I think the best advice comes from people who know you, your interests, and aspirations well. That means family and friends, especially if your friends work in similar fields. It's also invaluable to talk to both experienced mentor figures who have some perspective and recent graduates of the programs you're interested in (programs do change over time). Over the past year I've come across a number of resources written by bloggers that I think are worth highlighting: Dave Algoso, a recent graduate of the MPA program at NYU's Wagner School, wrote a grad student’s guide to the international development blogosphere which answers these questions:
1. Why should I read blogs? I do plenty of reading for class/work already… 2. Blogs can be overwhelming. How do I manage the information flow? 3. Okay, I’m sold. What should I be reading?
From Chris Blattman (everyone's favorite development blogger at Yale):
- 10 things I tell undergraduates
- Grad students: Don't lose hope
- How to discuss a paper
- How to email your professors and employers (timeless - good advice for everyone)
- How to get a PhD and save the world ("use graduate school to tech up" is something I've heard again and again and have tried to take to heart. widely applicable)
- How to write an essay
- MA or PhD? (mostly focused on Harvard's MPA/ID)
- Moving from RA to co-author (this one especially highlights how drastically different the authorship norms are in economics vs. medicine)
- Quantitative field research
- Recommendation letters
- Research in war zones
- Research in war zones II
Dani Rodrik responds to Blattman on graduate programs in development.
From Greg Mankiw's blog:
- Advice for Aspiring Economists
- Where do economists come from?
- Choosing a Graduate Program
- Advice for Grad Students
- Why Aspiring Economists Need Math
- Love Econ, Bad at Math
- JD vs PhD: My Story (notably if you're not a economics student you might be unfortunately unfamiliar with the "irrelevance of sunk costs" and thus make a difference choice than Dr. Mankiw re: finishing law school)
- PhD or not?
- Education Beyond the Classroom
Let me know if you think of something I'm missing. There does seem to be more advice out there about economics programs than those in public health. Personally I'd love to see a similar set of posts from Karen Grepin, Alanna Shaikh, and Elizabeth Pisani, amongst others.
Update: Dave Algoso suggested these posts by Amanda Taub of Wronging Rights, which I missed since I never seriously considered law school: