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Orgo for days

Good questions to ask on visit weekends

5 posts in this topic

Hey all, it seems that it would be a good idea to compile a list of of good questions to ask profs/grad students on visit weekends. If anyone has any insightful questions, I invite you to share in this thread! I will edit this post sporadically to include your suggested questions. I've started by including the questions I've thought up after working as an undergrad researcher in a competitive, sometimes brutal R1 lab, and I know there are a lot more things to ask--so help us all out by sharing your own questions!

To ask profs:

About lab life/students:

-What does an average day in the life of your grad students look like?

-How do projects get initiated?

-How many hours a week do your students tend to work? Who sets the expectations for work hours?

-Do your students hang out outside of lab?

-How many days do your grad students tend to take off from work on an annual basis?

 

About the prof:

-How do you correct your students when they make mistakes?

-How do you encourage your students when their chemistry is going poorly? How do you keep your students motivated?

-What motivates you about the chemistry of your lab?

 

About the training/chemistry:

-How do research projects get initiated?

-How long does it take for the average student to get their PhD? What generally is required for a PhD from a research standpoint?

-What kinds of problems do you think the lab will be working on in five years?

-How does your lab prepare students for successful careers in industry or academia?

-Does the lab have established collaborations with any groups?

 

To ask grad students:

To get the hindsight opinion on joining the school/lab:

-What do you like most about your PI? Least?

-What do you like most about your school? Least?

-If you could make the choice again, would you attend the same uni/join the same lab?

 

To get a sense for lab environment:

-Do you feel like you're friends with the other graduate students in the program and/or lab?

-Do you and the other grad students hang out outside of lab?

-Do you feel like your lab members rely on you and vice versa?

-What do you and the other grad students do for fun?

 

Edited by Orgo for days

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To ask graduate students:

-Is the stipend received enough for the cost of living in that area?

-Any apartment complexes/neighborhoods to avoid? Is there an area of town where more graduate students typically live? 

Grad students and/or profs:

-Typically how long are you expected to TA? 

 

Thanks for your list @Orgo for days some of the questions you have I didn't think of! So this was helpful! Good luck and have fun on your visiting weekends! 

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Thanks, @crystalettuce! Im gonna create a new list in this post, since I realized I can't edit my first post:

To ask grad students: 

-Is the stipend received enough for the cost of living in that area? And if not, where do you have to live to account for this?

-Are there any apartment complexes/neighborhoods to avoid? Is there an area of town where more graduate students typically live? 

To ask profs/grad students:

-Typically how long are you expected to TA? 

Edited by Orgo for days

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Beyond just questions to ask, do you guys (or anyone else for that matter), have any advice to offer for visit weekends? I will be going on my first visit soon and am getting a bit nervous, and all I could find in the "interviews and visits" forum seemed targeted towards interviews in which the environment is much more formal.

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7 hours ago, ConcertedMechanism said:

Beyond just questions to ask, do you guys (or anyone else for that matter), have any advice to offer for visit weekends? I will be going on my first visit soon and am getting a bit nervous, and all I could find in the "interviews and visits" forum seemed targeted towards interviews in which the environment is much more formal.

I've been on two visits now, and I think the biggest thing is enthusiasm and knowledge about the prof's research! If you're ever in doubt about getting a spot in the prof's lab, you can impress him/her by having a knowledge about what papers they've already published and by being generally high energy about what they do.

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