For better or worse, most people now think a four-year degree isn’t enough to get them where they want to go professionally. That’s why three-fourths of college freshman already plan to pursue a master’s degree. If you’re one of them or you’re thinking about going back to school, you’ve got a big choice ahead of you. Choosing the right graduate school is a very big deal—a decision that will have dramatic importance on your career. Here are a few things you can do to help you pick which grad school is right for you.

###Give yourself time

If possible, you should apply months or even a year before the deadline to allow yourself plenty of time to do your research, talk to the faculty and make sure that you’re both a good fit for each other.

###Study your career

Different grad schools provide very different educations, and if you know what you want your finish line to look like, you’ll know how to run the race.

###Talk to the faculty

Once you’ve narrowed down the pool a little, don’t be afraid to send a few emails to your potential instructors. Any resulting conversations will tell you more about the school than any campus visit ever could.

###Visit the campus

Wherever you end up, you’ll be there almost every day for the next couple years, and deciding to go there sight unseen is like buying a house before scheduling a walk-through.