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In a predicament: to visit or not to visit?


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I received my official acceptance from one school and unofficial acceptance to another.  The school I was accepted to cannot guarantee funding but it may be available come summer time.  For the school I've been unofficially accepted to, I have not received the guaranteed assurance of funding nor admissions, however my POI has said things look very positive and they are just waiting on word from the Provost for funds.

 

One of the schools I was officially accepted to is having an open house/visitor weekend and I was wondering whether or not I should attend.  It is somewhat costly and if I am officially accepted to the other school I will be going there.  However, if that one school doesn't come through, I feel that it would definitely be good to discuss my plans with the other school and get exposure to the program and the campus.

 

What would you all recommend doing?

 

 

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Would travel costs be different if you visit another time? I think that's what I'm doing at one school-- the trip for the one-day accepted students open house is WAY out of my budget, but I'm going to wait a week or two until I hear if I get any other acceptances, then schedule a trip for an off-peak time so I can at least get a tour and chat with a couple current students. The downside seems to be that I would miss the official presentation and won't get to meet my potential classmates.

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That actually does not sound like a bad idea.  It isn't so much the cost, it is that say I go to this schools visit then I do get accepted into my preferred school, I have basically spent $800 for a school I don't intend to go to, then I would want to take a trip to the school I actually wanted to go to which is going to be another $500 or so.

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I would recommend visiting.  PhD programs are REALLY long.  It's 5-10 years of your life.  If you can swing it financially $500 or $800 is a small price to pay for making an informed decision.  But, if you decide not to go there are other options.  I had a Skype visit with one of the schools I was looking at.  I spoke with the DGS and a couple of current grad students and I later emailed with a few more grad students.  I also asked to be put in touch with other accepted students who had attended the visiting weekend and that was really helpful.  They were able to give me their impressions, which was awesome considering they were currently in the same boat as me. 

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