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What is an appropriate length for a visit?


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Yes, obviously there's no objective answer and any visit is probably better than no visit.

 

 

Having said that, the program I've been admitted to doesn't have a visit day/week/weekend and I don't really know how long to plan for. It seems like the most convenient amount of time given my schedule is two days (the trip would be three days but I would only be in the city for about two full days). Does that seem like enough to get some sense of what the program is like or should I try to ignore my immediate priorities for longer?

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I think two days sounds reasonable for a campus visit, as long as they're weekdays. If it's a new city and you're also scoping out neighborhoods, you've got evenings and hopefully some time between your arrival and departure to wander around. All the visits I have planned are one or two days.

 

Related question: what exactly are you setting up in advance of your visit? I'm looking at MA programs, so I am more concerned with meeting a variety of people and getting an idea of who exactly I would like to work with and/or hope to be my advisor. I guess I just feel a little awkward cold-calling people and asking to meet with them as a complete unknown and without fully formed research proposals (I am also completely switching fields, so I feel out of my element in general). But I was thinking that I would email asking to observe a couple classes, then introduce myself in person and informally chat with professors before or after. I'll also be attending a departmental lecture at one school, which I'm looking forward to. 

 

Is there anything else you set up or prepare for when planning a visit?

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I also second the 'two day' idea, but leave yourself some good time to check out the area and for looking at housing (if you are). My campus visit was two days and it gave me a great idea of what the school was like and whether it was a good fit or not. But I definitely needed more time to look at housing options. I would recommend a two-day campus visit, but three days overall if you can swing it.

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two full days in the department + one day to explore the city. Add plenty of time to arrive/leave without being in a hurry, and you're left with 3-4 days overall. More than 3-4 nights gets excessive, especially if you are being hosted by a grad student.

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Related question: what exactly are you setting up in advance of your visit? I'm looking at MA programs, so I am more concerned with meeting a variety of people and getting an idea of who exactly I would like to work with and/or hope to be my advisor. I guess I just feel a little awkward cold-calling people and asking to meet with them as a complete unknown and without fully formed research proposals (I am also completely switching fields, so I feel out of my element in general). But I was thinking that I would email asking to observe a couple classes, then introduce myself in person and informally chat with professors before or after. I'll also be attending a departmental lecture at one school, which I'm looking forward to. 

 

This is for the most part what I'm doing. The DGS at the main school I'm visiting said he'd set up appointments with professor and graduate students if I wanted, so thankfully I don't have to randomly call/email them asking for it. I'm probably gonna try to go to a class or two being taught by POIs, hopefully have an appointment with them (or at least casually talk to them while hanging out), and I'm also thinking of sitting in in an undergrad class taught by a teaching fellow since I'll be expected to do the same in a few years.

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This is for the most part what I'm doing. The DGS at the main school I'm visiting said he'd set up appointments with professor and graduate students if I wanted, so thankfully I don't have to randomly call/email them asking for it. I'm probably gonna try to go to a class or two being taught by POIs, hopefully have an appointment with them (or at least casually talk to them while hanging out), and I'm also thinking of sitting in in an undergrad class taught by a teaching fellow since I'll be expected to do the same in a few years.

 

Thanks for the info and the reassurance. I guess that's just what it's about: getting a feel for the program and what it would be like to be a student there. I just feel like I'm crashing the department for a day!

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