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Recruitment Weekends: What's the deal? And, more importantly, what does one wear?!


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Okey-doke: So I'm an utter newb at this whole Grad School cult(ure) thing. I've been invited to two Open House/Recruitment Weekend/Admitted Students Day-type thingies (from schools that have both made offers to me), and am seeking advice on what to expect, what sort of questions I should ask while there, and (shallow being that I am) what the frak should I wear?!?! I'm typically a chucks, jeans, and a baggy tank kinda gal.....but something tells me that this garb might not be appropriate for this purpose. I know they can't revoke my admit decision because I look like a schlub, but I figure (OK, let's be honest....I didn't "figure" anything....my more socially-functional friends have told me. In no uncertain terms) that I should try to look "professional" when I go on these trips.

So.....what does "professional" mean, in this context? Do I need heels? A jacket/blazer thingy? Or should I just say "screw it" and show up looking like I actually look, in ripped jeans and a ball cap, so that I feel comfortable and not like I'm playing in Big Sis's closet? It's not like they're not potentially going to see me in my *ahem* natural habit every day for the next 6+ years......

tl;dr: HELP! Tell me what to expect during "Recruitment Weekend". :)

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I haven't been on one of these (yet -- my first is this weekend), so take my advice with a grain of salt.

It seems like the best bet is to dress up nice, but don't wander way out of your comfort zone. I am usually a VERY casual dresser (jeans, T-shirt and sneakers FTW) but I'll stick with some black leather-looking shoes, some actual pants and a button down. In your case, some non-ripped pants or some kind of skirt-like contraption with a sweater or cardigan (that's a thing, right?) will probably serve you well.

While it seems silly to worry about this kind of stuff, a lot of people interpret how you look to represent how serious you are about the program (ie: if she couldn't even bother to put on pants, why should I give her a shot?). Of course, there are plenty of professors who couldn't give a rat's ass what you look like -- but it seems like it's better to be safe than sorry.

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I had the same freak out for my interview 2 weeks ago. I ended up wearing (I'm female): a distressed velvet blazer, white short sleeved shirt, a grey vest and grey slacks. I wore chunky brown loafers.

I did wear a little make up for the interviews.. I hadn't slept in 2 days so I had some serious eye baggage that I just didn't feel comfortable showing.

Also, just a note: I have wrist tattoos - one that goes half way up my forearm - and so my blazer minimized them with the long sleeves. But I also didn't hide them because I took my blazer off during lunch. No one seemed to really care and 2 of the professors asked me about them, what they meant and that kind of thing.

I don't think they really care THAT much how we look (I got accepted), so long as we're clean, don't smell, look partially decent and basically just show that we have half a brain to understand that looking professional is indicative of BEING professional.

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I've been wondering about this a lot myself. My visit isn't for a few more weeks, and I've been accepted already, but I'm also a super low-key dresser. I'm a guy, so obviously YMMV, but I'm planning to wear just some nice pants, a button-down shirt, and some comfortable shoes. I'll look nice but not too nice... I don't ever wear ties, so doing something like that seems sort of disingenuous to me. I don't want them to think of me as that kind of guy because I'm really not, you know, that kind of guy. My point of view is that they want me for what I can do, how I think, and my potential as a scholar, not for my ability to look like an investment banker.I'm hoping I'm right! :D

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If you're unsure about what to wear, e-mail/call your potential advisor or someone affiliated with the program and ask. Some programs/fields expect you to be dressed up, and some don't mind casual (as long as clothes are clean, not torn up, etc.), but no one's trying to trick you.

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If you're unsure about what to wear, e-mail/call your potential advisor or someone affiliated with the program and ask.

Seconded. I've found department admins/graduate admissions coordinators to be a great resource for these questions.

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I'm going to an open house in a week and I'm just planning on wearing a tan, knee-length skirt and a dark blue button down shirt. I'm also a huge tomboy (casual friday is the best day of the week!) but since this will be the first time that I'll be meeting people, I definitely want to look a tiny bit more professional.

I've been debating about heels vs. no heels, but I'm leaning towards no heels because there's probably going to be a lot of walking/standing.

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I don't see why it matters if you've already been admitted. Of course, don't look like a slob, but I can't see them revoking an already-offered admission for anything short of blatantly lying about your qualifications. Luckily enough, my first visit is in Edmonton, so my coat and several layers of sweaters will conceal anything nice I wear anyway.

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When I went on these, I wore dark jeans (obviously without holes), a lightweight sweater, and a tank top underneath during the day in places where there was spring-like weather. For winter weather, I opted for a heavier sweater and long sleeve shirt, plus scarf, hat, and gloves that coordinated with my winter coat. For dinner and drinks with the grad students, I wore a fun t-shirt with the jeans. I went with comfortable Clark's shoes since I wasn't sure how much walking there would be during the day. I would say that you should wear what you're comfortable with. What I wore on visits wasn't a huge variation from my everyday wear, which is what I'd recommend anyone go with. You don't want your clothes to make you uncomfortable.

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What usually happens at these recruitment weekends/visitation days/open houses? I have been invited to two so far and have no idea what to expect. One of the programs says there will be a "formal overview" of the program followed by a "poster session" and "individual meeting sessions." Then lunch and dinner are provided with opportunities to interact with graduate students and faculty in a less formal setting. What exactly does this mean?

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I wore jeans and a nice sweater shirt, with boots. Everyone else was decked out for a job interview; I wouldn't have been comfortable in that. No one cared.

Realistically I think it all depends on the program you are applying to to be honest and perhaps your perceived level of competition.

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