psycholinguist Posted March 1, 2009 Share Posted March 1, 2009 NOTE: My reasons for coming across as so cryptic in this post have much less to do with anonymity as with striving to be generic. Back at the beginning of the month, I nearly called off my trip to visit Third Choice when I was accepted by Second Choice, but I knew it was wiser to go through with my original plans. Am I ever glad I did. Now, I'm quite aware that the purpose of a visiting-weekend is, essentially, to sell the campus to admitted students, but what happened was that I went in not expecting the interests of the program and its faculty to correspond all that well to my own, and...well, virtually all of my reservations (acquired gradually through the website and communication with several professors) turned out to be almost completely baseless. Furthermore, the program more generally and the campus overall both turned out to have a lot of features that appealed to me but that I hadn't really known about in advance. (I'm going to start from the beginning, though, even getting into the having-Third-Choice-sold-to-me parts. More suspenseful that way.) I know the city that Third Choice is in quite well, but I had never felt so welcomed to it before. Third Choice paid for a very pleasant hotel-room; within an hour of my (very early) arrival, Potential Advisor #1 was on the phone with me making plans for dinner with him, one of his grad-students, one other visiting student, and one other professor. He called back to confirm just before dinner, and actually came to pick me up at the hotel. The five of us met up at a lovely restaurant and had a really enjoyable chat. And that was just the beginning. My hotel-roommate arrived later in the evening; we hit it off so well that we were awake until 1 AM talking! I went to bed hardly able to believe that we had only just met. In the morning, there was a breakfast for invited students, at which I talked with a lot of people, all of them really enthusiastic and interesting. A great question-and-answer session with current grad-students at Third Choice really started to get me excited about all of the research-opportunities there (and the promise of guaranteed funding was nice to learn about as well). There turned out to be a much stronger general graduate community at Third Choice than I had anticipated. What I would probably label the highlight of my visit, however, was something semi-accidental that wasn't even on the schedule. Several of us were divided between a couple of professors' cars in order to go out to see their labs; I was arbitrarily assigned to Potential Advisor #1, and over the course of the drive out to the labs, he and I got to talking about his research. It turned out that I hadn't been able to get the whole picture about his interests from his web-site; he described study after study in detail and each one pretty much blew me away. Utterly fascinating...so much so, in fact, that I kind of ran out of synonyms for 'awesome' when I needed to respond to them. (Not only that, but PA #1 turned out to be friends with Former Cognitive-Science Professor, the guy who was pretty much single-handedly responsible for getting me interested in cognition and perception.) When we got to the lab-compound, we were both so caught up in discussing the subtleties of his research that he didn't think to point out which buildings were which and I didn't think to ask! * laughs * Tours of the labs in question, as well as meetings with grad-students and Potential Advisor #2 followed. The roles that PA #1 and PA #2 would play in my (hypothetical) grad-school career at Third Choice just fell into place; when I apologised to the latter and said that although I was very interested in his work, I thought I would be better off doing a side project under him than working in his lab full-time, he laughed and said he agreed with me and had been waiting to suggest exactly the same thing! I also really liked the layout and structure of the labs. What I hadn't realised going in is that the lab-compound isn't that old, and features plenty of space and more than a lot of windows. Much more pleasant than the psych-department at Undergraduate University. There also turned out to be housing-options I hadn't expected but that I seriously like the sound of. Then there was a casual dinner-thing that two grad-students hosted just because they wanted to chat with a few of us some more. Anyway, I left Third Choice this morning not wanting to leave, having made a new friend in my hotel-roommate and lots of new contacts around the department. This is after spending a lot of last week wandering around Undergraduate University wondering how on earth I would ever want to move on to a new place! (So either Third Choice was immensely enticing, or I'm just fickle. Or both. * grins *) I haven't heard anything yet from First Choice, but now, to my surprise, I'm finding that I really don't care. I almost hope that something about Second Choice turns me off so that I can just commit to Third already! Anyway, I guess the pseudo-moral of this overlong anecdote is: if you can visit, DO IT. Even if you think it's not a priority. Obviously I know this isn't going to happen to everyone - in fact, since there's only so much you can learn from the Internet, it's quite possible that the diametric opposite of this situation could occur (i.e. finding out that one's First Choice is not really all that exciting). But the point is that it's so hard to know without actually getting to experience being on the campus(es) in question. What until Wednesday morning was undoubtedly my distant Third Choice has turned out to be a FAR better fit for me than I ever would have guessed. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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