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FEB

Meeting with professors during campus visit

14 posts in this topic

Hi guys, I have a simple question about campus visit. What do you do in a meeting with a professor during a visit?

(Basically I've been admitted to a program, and a department staff is asking me which profs I want to meet with during the visit. I'm kind of intimidated by the prospect. What questions should I ask? Will I be wasting their time? Will they find out that I'm more ignorant about their areas than my SOP suggests?)

Do you have any advice?

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19 minutes ago, FEB said:

Hi guys, I have a simple question about campus visit. What do you do in a meeting with a professor during a visit?

(Basically I've been admitted to a program, and a department staff is asking me which profs I want to meet with during the visit. I'm kind of intimidated by the prospect. What questions should I ask? Will I be wasting their time? Will they find out that I'm more ignorant about their areas than my SOP suggests?)

Do you have any advice?

Their goal in these meetings is to court you and convince you to come to their department. This is true even if you have no other options and even if they know you have no other options. They are by no means interviewing you. If anything, you're interviewing them. It might be a bit of an overstatement to say you can do *no* wrong, but it's not that much of an overstatement. Nobody is going into these meetings with the mindset of making sure they didn't make a mistake on you, or trying to test your knowledge base. That said, philosophers in general can be pretty socially awkward, so don't be too surprised or discouraged if you don't get much more than "so, what do you want to talk about?" from some of them.

Maybe the most useful question I asked professors was: so, what sorts of projects are your graduate students working on? This is a good question because it can give you a picture of the sorts of projects you could work on with that professor, and allows you to have a conversation with them about those sorts of projects without having to pretend like you already know what your dissertation project is going to be. I like asking this more than asking what that professor is working on, since some professors advise some dissertations on topics they've never published on, so it can give you a more full sense of their areas of interest than asking about their own work would. It's also useful because some professors only advise projects that perfectly line up with their interests, and that's good to know. 

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This an interesting topic (and your suggestion is awesome, Big Ariana!). I might suggest a specific issue that could come up in such meetings: placements / job prospects. I find it extremely helpful to get a sense of the placement record, not just of the department itself, but of people working on a specific subfield. Of course, a more reliable source of information might be other grad students, but it's still interesting to hear professors' own assessment of their placement successes/failures. My experience is that they can be quite candid.

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I have a different question about campus visit. How many professors do people usually meet during their campus visit? Or how many names should we provide to the department prior to the visit? Thanks!

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4 minutes ago, whatamidoinghere said:

I have a different question about campus visit. How many professors do people usually meet during their campus visit? Or how many names should we provide to the department prior to the visit? Thanks!

I have no clue. I provided like five to the first department I visited, and two of them were unavailable so that still didn't wind up being enough -_-... But yeah, I would still probably say about five is reasonable?

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4 minutes ago, goldenstardust11 said:

I have no clue. I provided like five to the first department I visited, and two of them were unavailable so that still didn't wind up being enough -_-... But yeah, I would still probably say about five is reasonable?

cool, that's helpful! Thanks so much!

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I provided two sets of names of professors I'd like to meet--a smaller group who I imagine I'd be interested in working with a lot (quantity, not degree)--and then a second set who I think is interesting and who cover more broad interests, but with a note that if I asked for too many or some of the second group are super busy, I made the division on purpose. But then my ideal would be meeting everyone.

Also, asking who in the department is interested in the same things you're interested in can give you some surprising results. Some faculty (especially younger ones) have broader interests than their publications let on.

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17 minutes ago, MickeyRay said:

To piggy back off of this question, have you guys had any issue for the budget of campus visits. If the department is expecting me to carry any of the cost is this a bad sign? 

 

I have received a funded offer from the department (tuition + assistantship), but I haven't actually seen the numbers yet. They're only offering me like $150 for a recruitment visit budget. 

$150 seems low. That would not even cover a flight (presuming you'll need to fly), much less accommodations while you're there. I think it would be reasonable to ask (nicely) for more.

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7 minutes ago, MickeyRay said:

She said she already requested more, but I think $200 is the max :/ Flights are 350ish and I could stay with a grad student.... I really want to see the department before I commit anywhere...

If you can, I'd still visit. I'm visiting a couple of departments who can't help fund the travel. Luckily I'm very close to both of them, so the cost isn't too high. So if their assistance is enough to make it affordable for you to go, I'd still say it's worth it and not necessarily too hard a strike against the dept. 

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Colorado offered me $500 for travel expenses (of which I will use like $200), and I get to keep whatever of the $500 I don't use. So it's like a vacation to Boulder that pays better than my normal job :D 

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52 minutes ago, MickeyRay said:

If the department is expecting me to carry any of the cost is this a bad sign? 

I think there are two ways of reading this question. On one interpretation the answer is "no" and on the other the answer is "maybe".

If you mean, "does the fact that the department is expecting you to carry part of the cost means that they're not that interested in you?", then I think you have no reason to worry. There are often institutional limits on the amount of money that can be spent on prospective students and the department may very well have no say in the matter. So in this sense, I don't think it's a reason for concern.

Another reading of the question, however, is: "does the fact that the department is making you carry part of the cost indicate something about the financial state of the department/university?" The answer to this question, I think, is "maybe". If the department/university is stingy on funding for prospective student visits, then I would certainly want to ask for specifics on availability of 6th year funding and beyond, travel funding for conference, dissertation completion fellowships, retirements and new hires, etc. It's a good idea to ask about this anyways but I think it's especially pertinent in a situation like this. Perhaps the money comes from different pools and thus has no bearing on the sort of financial opportunities available/affecting grad students. My suspicion, however, is that these things are all closely connected.

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What about meeting with professors for a program that you've been waitlisted at? Does this change the tone of the meetings at all? I feel like it's a bit odd for me to go to a program I've not been accepted to and ask all about what it would be like as an accepted student. I feel much more pressure to impress philosophically.

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Everything I've read says trying to impress your way into a program has the opposite effect.

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13 minutes ago, RumHaven said:

What about meeting with professors for a program that you've been waitlisted at? Does this change the tone of the meetings at all? I feel like it's a bit odd for me to go to a program I've not been accepted to and ask all about what it would be like as an accepted student. I feel much more pressure to impress philosophically.

I've had two of my professors recommend that I ask questions as though I were an admitted student. Specifically, one of them mentioned that I should think about the things I'd want to know in order to choose between program X and my other options - especially if I got a last minute offer on April 15th. Given the unpredictability of waitlists this could very well happen, so it's good to be prepared for that in advance! :) (And, if you need to decline, it's a courtesy to others on the same list). 

I definitely feel this pressure too though. 

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