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2020 Visit Days Questions Thread

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Many acceptances are already out, and visit days are coming up! I know I'm really nervous (but also excited!), and I don't want to sidetrack the main venting thread with this.

What questions are you asking? What are you looking for?

I definitely want to talk to current grad students about how they make it work on their stipends. I also need to ask some specific questions about time to graduate with the advisor I'm interested in. Overall, I really just want to get a feel for the department culture, because finding somewhere where I'll be happy is really important after undergrad turned out to be such a poor fit.

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Thank you for making this thread!! 

I will also be talking to grad students, esp those working with my potential supervisors to know who's their mentoring style, are they keen to collaborate, etc. Support for post-phd career, employment opportunities.

 I'm also planning to ask a lot of questions in this Twitter thread !

 

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Great thread! I think asking about the financial details is important, particularly when payments come in (e.g. August vs October) and health insurance. I'm also just excited to nerd out on research topics with people, learning what research other people are excited about, what sort of approaches are most common at the school (e.g. qualitative, Bourdieu), and what people think of my ideas.

I think it would also be nice to make connections with fellow prospective students, even if we end up at different schools. These are the people we'll be hanging out with at conferences, on the job market with, and perhaps working in the same department in the long-term.

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2 hours ago, PoliticalSociology said:

Great thread! I think asking about the financial details is important, particularly when payments come in (e.g. August vs October) and health insurance. I'm also just excited to nerd out on research topics with people, learning what research other people are excited about, what sort of approaches are most common at the school (e.g. qualitative, Bourdieu), and what people think of my ideas.

I think it would also be nice to make connections with fellow prospective students, even if we end up at different schools. These are the people we'll be hanging out with at conferences, on the job market with, and perhaps working in the same department in the long-term.

I agree with what everybody’s mentioned they’re all on my list! I especially think making connections with other prospective students is really important and something related to this that I am definitely asking grad students there is what the social life is like. As in are cohorts/cross-cohorts usually quite close/sociable outside of academic hours etc? For me I’ll be moving a continent away and five years is a long time to be lonely if it turns out nobody wants to talk after class! 

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2 hours ago, 0102030405 said:

For me I’ll be moving a continent away and five years is a long time to be lonely if it turns out nobody wants to talk after class! 

Yeah I wonder about this too! I've been living in the US for a time, but I'm not from here and certainly don't know anyone near the schools I'm thinking about. My guess is there will be some bonding between students coming from this kind of background, while other students with more established social networks will keep to themselves.

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13 minutes ago, PoliticalSociology said:

Yeah I wonder about this too! I've been living in the US for a time, but I'm not from here and certainly don't know anyone near the schools I'm thinking about. My guess is there will be some bonding between students coming from this kind of background, while other students with more established social networks will keep to themselves.

I hope so! I had a bad experience during my undergrad socially that got much better during my masters but I’m still worried it might happen again. 

I’m currently torn between two programs, one which doesn’t have a visit day so I can’t gauge how sociable it is, but my gut is that it isn’t as the number of PhD students seem really small and slightly older (late 20s/30s) aka people with lives. Unfortunately career wise I think this would be the best fit for me but the social side is really getting me down about it. 

 

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7 hours ago, 0102030405 said:

I hope so! I had a bad experience during my undergrad socially that got much better during my masters but I’m still worried it might happen again. 

I’m currently torn between two programs, one which doesn’t have a visit day so I can’t gauge how sociable it is, but my gut is that it isn’t as the number of PhD students seem really small and slightly older (late 20s/30s) aka people with lives. Unfortunately career wise I think this would be the best fit for me but the social side is really getting me down about it. 

 

Yeah the super small programs worry me for that reason. I went to a relatively small undergrad program and it was not for me.

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Regardless of whether you personally agree with OP or not, this thread on twitter helped me understand the kind of questions I want to/should ask regarding PhD funding, especially in relation to a full funding offer. I plan to ask current grad students some of the questions mentioned, as well as the director of graduate studies at the school I’m planning to attend. I hope this helps!
 

https://twitter.com/megankatenelson/status/1231935955701051393?s=21

 

19BD6DA7-96E6-4310-9B87-055C27D67F0F.jpeg

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Hey everyone, great thread!

I am also in the process of debating between programs, so I thought I might share my very informal list -- It's not all necessarily visit-day questions, but more generally information I think I'll consider in my choice or just generally want to know (some was already mentioned above):

Research & day-to-day:

  • Regarding potential supervisors:
    • Experience of other grad students with them
    • Mentoring style, etc.
  • Current research projects of faculty & other grad students
  • Atmosphere (Competitive vs cooperative, etc.) & Social life
  • Qual/quant/mixed-methods research support & statistical consultation or support
  • Is it possible/typical to work with more than one faculty
  • Interdisciplinarity & possibilities for research collaborations
  • Best areas to live

Money questions:

  • Duration of funding & modalities of summer funding
  • Are there fees to be paid aside from the tuition remission, and how much
  • What's the delay before first pay
  • Availability of funding for conferences and such

Other:

  • Graduation/completion rates and average nb of years to PhD
  • Numbers of student publications / student-faculty publications
  • Placement records (in terms of TT jobs compared to incoming cohort size, if that's what you're interested in)

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