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How to chose the best fictional grad school

When considering graduate schools, even fictional ones, it's important to assess a variety of characteristics to determine the best fit for your academic goals, career interests, and work-life balance. Here's a rundown of what you can expect within a range of prestigious fictional graduate programs [mild spoilers for those unfamiliar with source books or movies].


School: The ABA (American Ballet Academy), featured in the dance-and-eating-disorder-afterschool-special Center Stage (and its sequel and recent TV movie); grad school for ballet dancers.
Grad School Cred: Student dancers have a year to take classes and improve their skills, at which point they perform in a showcase audition, a 1-day job market that determines whether they'll be employed in a ballet company.
Admission: Audition-based. Highly competitive.
Free catering
Conditions: Punishing. Hard on toes. Having "bad feet," not adhering to a strict diet, or demonstrating "bad attitude" gives teachers the ability to remove you from the school or not cast you in the showcase, effectively ending your career as a dancer. Then again, it's the most elite training school for ballet in the country, so suck it up and swallow that gum, Eva.
Faculty: Former/current professional dancers and dance company directors. Instructors routinely seduce younger student dancers. Good mentorship opportunities. 
Student Life: Also punishing. Cutthroat competition between students for a few coveted spots. Blow off steam with a little salsa or non-credit aerobics course.
Placement: Pretty good. All of the named cast who perform in the showcase get hired as dancers. Maureen, the former star student (who is secretly bulimic) goes to college instead.
Grade: 3/5 broken-in slippers.

School: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, featured in the Harry Potter series of books and films; grad school for magic kids & teens.
Grad School Cred: Student witches and wizards have 6+ years to study a variety of magical subjects that aren't at all relevant to modern life, in an ancient university-like castle with long-held academic and athletic intra- and inter-school rivalries.
Admission: Based on magical ability (you've got it or you don't) for witches and wizards within the United Kingdom.
Supervisory criticism
Conditions: Hazardous. Both school grounds and the nearby woods abound with code violations for student safety. Short-term hires routinely endanger student well-being. Strenuous academic standards, leading students to experiment with performance-enhancing drugs and equipment to facilitate cheating. Lack of adequate, age-appropriate supervision, especially with regard to unauthorized field trips. Security insufficient to protect students from attacks by disgruntled former pupils. Potentially discriminatory, as students are sorted upon arrival into houses based on personality and aptitude traits, and are differentially treated for the remainder of their education. In final years, culminates in 2 sets of knowledge-summarizing exams, both theoretical and practical, which determine hireability for several bureaucratic career paths.
Faculty: Variable. Many are underqualified or suffer from serious medical conditions that hinder their ability to effectively instruct. Tendency towards extreme favouritism, particularly along house lines. Routinely dole out corporal punishment, including of the magical variety. Attrition problem: majority of positions are short-term hires due to death / arrest of successful candidates.
Student Life: Good. Dormitory setting yields social cohesion. Multiple extracurricular clubs and activities, including sports, social justice movements, and skill improvement. Opportunities for students to assist in faculty research projects for extra credit. Strong rivalries result in feuds and bullying. Discriminatory attitudes against those of non-magical heritage persist despite consciousness-raising efforts.
Placement: Excellent. Large magical bureaucracy keen to hire graduates in a variety of specialties. Entrepreneurship opportunities even for those who don't complete the program. Also, many students return to become professors.
Grade: 2/5 wands (12" hawthorn w/ unicorn hair center)

School: Citadel, in Oldtown, Westeros, in book series A Song of Ice and Fire and the Game of Thrones television series; grad school for would-be maesters.
Grad School Cred: Candidates must master a series of subjects of increasing difficulty and be periodically examined to progress in the program. Students forge a chain composed of a metal ring for each mastered subject (including history, warcraft, and poison), effectively a mixed-metal transcript that distinguishes them based on credentials (tantamount to a literal chain of post-nominal letters). 
Admission: Guaranteed, as maesters are public servants of the realm and will train males of any age.
Forms must be handed in on time.
Conditions: Strenuous. No women or children are permitted in the Citadel. There are 16 subjects to master, and there is no guarantee that novices will successfully progress in their studies. But noble birth is not required, and even illegitimate children can rise to prominent positions within the order. Also the receptionist is very prickly, making your degree's requisite paperwork much more onerous.
Faculty: The Order of Maesters, governed by the Conclave which is made up of one archmaester for each subject area. The Order of Maesters frowns on experimental learning, and has expelled students who pursue innovative areas of interest.
Student Life: Segregated. Only male students are trained to be maesters; they must relinquish family titles, live celibately, and wear their chain at all times. Also, there may be a face-swapping murderer in Oldtown. But there's a great student pub.
Placement: Exceptional. All successful graduates are assigned a position upon the completion of their training. All noble houses and military installations employ maesters as tutors and combination physicians/scientists/historians/consultants. Maesters also maintain vast communication networks for the dissemination of news and personal correspondence.
Grade: 4/5 ravens


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