It's that time. A lot of the next crop of grad students are mulling over their offers to choose where to go. Here are a couple thoughts:
1. Never pay for graduate school - the jobs you're spending years training for are scarce and don't pay boatloads of money.
2. Start with the PGR, but keep in mind that philosophers don't have a lexical ordering of departments in their mind when they hear about where you're going to grad school (taken with a grain of salt the PGR definitely helps with a sense of general reputation which is important).
2.5. Keep in mind that over the 6-7 years you are working on your PhD, your department's PGR ranking will probably jump around.
3. Building on 2/2.5, try to focus on getting a good advisor (this matters more for your job prospects than you initially think).
4. Look at the number of faculty in the area you're most interested in working in. You should try to avoid going somewhere that getting off on the wrong foot with one person means trouble.
5. You're picking somewhere to live for 6-7 years. That's a significant chunk of your LIFE. Try to make it somewhere you'd like to be.
6. Try to figure out how graduate students get along. A PhD takes a long time. Ideally you'll land somewhere with people that you like.
7. If you're thinking about a MA, know that you'll get another one on the way to your PhD and that programs don't usually count all your masters classes towards your PhD (you should ask).
8. Have I mentioned it's hard to get a job in philosophy? It was bad before the recession too. Have you thought about a job that allows you to choose where you live?
Ok, enough thoughts off the top of my head. Anything else people should know?
-- Second Suitor
Update from STBJD: Asstro has this crucial and useful advice, which I don't think is all that contrary to what Second Suitor says, to add in the comments. Here is part of it, but read the whole thing:
Look closely at placement. Look closely at dissertations. Look closely at the graduates of that department over a five or six year span. Are they publishing? Are they languishing? What are they writing on? Are they rising stars? Are they just riding the coattails of their advisors? And so on.