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How to get the most out of admit visits??


funfetti
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Admitted student (virtual) visits are right around the corner! What is your advice for making the most out of the admit visits? In particular, what questions have you asked or will you ask to get helpful insights into the program?

I know it's so important to ascertain the vibe of the department, the happiness of current grad students, the mentorship style of POIs, the availability of additional resources and funding for research, etc. Yet, I'm not sure how to best probe about those topics in a way that will encourage both grad students and faculty to share honest and useful information. 

All tips are very much appreciated! 

Edited by _nutella_
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  • funfetti changed the title to How to get the most out of admit visits??
This is what a current grad student told me when I asked the same thing. 
 
"1. Make sure you get to have a 1-on-1 meeting with the faculty member(s) that you'd most like to work with. Maybe this will be part of the scheduled programming (it was when I was a prospective), but if it's not, I recommend e-mailing the faculty directly to schedule a zoom chat. I think even just casual conversation can help you get an idea of whether you would get along with them or not, but it also might be good to ask questions like: "What are you working on these days?"  "Are you open to collaborating with grad students on these projects?" "How often do you interact with your advisees, and what does that look like?"
 
2. It's good to have candid conversations with current grad students (like you're doing now). It's particularly useful to speak with the students who are currently working with your potential advisor, because they can give you more info on what it's actually like to be advised by that person. Try to also speak to a combination of more junior and more advanced grad students – remember that first-years will have only been in the program for a semester and a half as of visiting weekend, so their experience is more limited (though still relevant).
 
3. Where possible, try to connect with your fellow prospectives as well. You might not get a chance to do this during visiting weekend, but even exchanging e-mails with other admitted students can be quite useful. First, if you get along well with them, it's a good sign that your cohort will be friendly with one another. Second, they can give you information about other schools' offers, other visiting day experiences, and additional data points that can help you compare to other programs. Plus, you'll end up seeing them at conferences and things in the future even if you don't end up at the same program."
 
Hope that helps! 
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Hello, thank you for posting this question here. I think it is quite an important one as we do these visits virtually in the coming weeks/months. I would add the following to the previous answer:

1. As much as this may seem minor, if you have any questions regarding the coursework and curriculum of the first few years, you should feel free to ask them. 

2. 2nd to 4th year students in general are excellent people for you to ask questions about the programme.

3. Getting a feel for the "vibe" of the grad student and department community is indeed quite important. You'll likely be there for 5 or 6 years, so this probably matters more than one would imagine at first.

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4 hours ago, _nutella_ said:

I know it's so important to ascertain the vibe of the department, the happiness of current grad students, the mentorship style of POIs, the availability of additional resources and funding for research, etc.

 

I have no idea how we'll really get this information virtually via Zoom...

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15 minutes ago, timeseries said:

I have no idea how we'll really get this information virtually via Zoom...

In my experience grad students are usually pretty straightforward on department culture/questions of this sort, but it may require setting up separate calls outside of official visit day Zooms (which I can envision being sort of stilted etc)

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I've been doing the following to assess the schools I've been admitted to so far to do my part in knowing the program and preparing for the admit visits:

- I've been contacting professors who I'm interested in having as an adviser and just talking with them generally. Some of them I reached out to unprompted and other professors have been contacting me first. I figure this is good to get some one on one time with the professors to get a feel for them all.

- I've also been reaching out to grad students and asking them their options about the school and program generally. This has mostly been 4-5th years who are on their way out. The current grad students have been super helpful in answering my questions, and they've been pretty blunt which is what I wanted. I also ask them why they decided to attend their program, and that has been telling of the current mood of the grad students.

- I've also been asking to get the grad handbooks just to understand the structure of the programs. Since my schools are pretty close together in ranking and everything it's important to know the differences.

The professor who I'm RA for has been helpful and is giving me some good questions to ask these programs. Those questions include:

1. How is the methods sequence structured? Are there opportunities for funding to attend workshops (e.g. ICPSR)?
2. What types of academic jobs are students getting (meaning R1, teaching jobs, etc.)?
3. What is the research paper requirement in the first two years, and how do the comprehensive exams work?
4. Are there opportunities to collaborate with the faculty on research?
5. Are there opportunities for summer funding?

Edited by NeedaMormon
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 2/7/2021 at 2:48 PM, sjetp said:

Hello, thank you for posting this question here. I think it is quite an important one as we do these visits virtually in the coming weeks/months. I would add the following to the previous answer:

1. As much as this may seem minor, if you have any questions regarding the coursework and curriculum of the first few years, you should feel free to ask them. 

2. 2nd to 4th year students in general are excellent people for you to ask questions about the programme.

3. Getting a feel for the "vibe" of the grad student and department community is indeed quite important. You'll likely be there for 5 or 6 years, so this probably matters more than one would imagine at first.

Great advice here.  I'm not sure I have much more to add, except that I'd echo point #3.  This is especially important, and hard to do, unfortunately, on Zoom.  I'm not sure I really have a good answer.  Although its a pain, try really hard to talk to at least 2-3 current students.    

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