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Should I visit the school I'm attending?


JMehl84

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Hi,

So here's my situation:

-For the 2008-09 academic year, I was accepted to Stanford, Michigan, and Maryland for EE MS/PhD studies. I visited Michigan. Decided based on reputation and the advising of some professors that Stanford was the best bet for me.

-I accepted my admission to Stanford and then ended up deferring for a year (to continue working)

-I'm now definitely going out there in this Fall to start the program

I really want to go visit the campus now just to see it, but it's a fairly large expense (probably ~800 or so for a few days). At the moment I'm thinking it's not worth it. I'm wondering if there's solid justification for a visit.. anyone have any thoughts as to why I ought to visit?

Thus far I have:

-Meet professors

-Meet staff

-See housing

-Attend a class

(I'm really looking for reasons to go check it out... :-) )

Thanks,

J

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Visiting will probably get you excited about starting grad school and the people at the program excited about having you there. So if you feel like you need to get excited, go! The weather in Palo Alto is BEAUTIFUL this time of year...

Otherwise, I'm not entirely sure what the point would be, since you've committed to going there.

Is the $800 for travel money alone? Have you thought of asking the program to connect you with a current student who might be able to host you for a couple nights?

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I agree with socialpsych, I would normally urge you to visit to inform your decision of which school to attend, but since you've already committed and met everyone, I don't think its necessary, unless you don't have a place to move into yet so your trip could revolve around that.

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I tend to agree with the comments above that you don't really need to visit if you've already decided to commit, but if you're looking for reasons to go,

Thus far I have:

-Meet professors

-Meet staff

-See housing

-Attend a class

I'd add:

- Meet current grads, get their impression of classes, the program and life in general. Ask them in person how they like everything, and if they can afford living off of their stipend. Sometimes you get very honest replies in person that you might not get in an email.

- Talk to current advisees of your potential adviser, see how they like the style, etc.

- Meet adviser in person, make sure that you connect on a personal level, not only on a professional one (can't stress enough how important it is to feel like you will be able to work with this person!).

- Explore the town, see how you'd like living there. Get a sense of what's where so that it'll be easier later on when it comes time to find housing and move.

- Form a general opinion based on the intangible "feeling" you get of how the department operates and whether you felt like you would belong there.

Some of these might be less relevant if you've already accepted, but it'd still be nice to know more about them.

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Hi,

So here's my situation:

-For the 2008-09 academic year, I was accepted to Stanford, Michigan, and Maryland for EE MS/PhD studies. I visited Michigan. Decided based on reputation and the advising of some professors that Stanford was the best bet for me.

-I accepted my admission to Stanford and then ended up deferring for a year (to continue working)

-I'm now definitely going out there in this Fall to start the program

I really want to go visit the campus now just to see it, but it's a fairly large expense (probably ~800 or so for a few days). At the moment I'm thinking it's not worth it. I'm wondering if there's solid justification for a visit.. anyone have any thoughts as to why I ought to visit?

Thus far I have:

-Meet professors

-Meet staff

-See housing

-Attend a class

(I'm really looking for reasons to go check it out... :-) )

Thanks,

J

Well you've already committed to going there, so if I were in your position, I don't think I could justify the expense. That $800 could pay for a month of rent when you're at school (or something, I don't know what the cost of living is there...probably high, but whatever, you get my point).

The professors/staff/classes aren't going to change whether you visit them or not, but you'll save lots of cash. If you really want to check out housing and think that's a legit reason based on what the housing situation is like in that area (if renting blind is really unreasonable or if it's difficult to find a place or whatever), then I guess you could use that as a logical reason to go.

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umm - what if someone hasn't been assigned an advisor yet, and needs to meet with the real people behind the famous names - would that be a good reason to attend ?

So this is one thing that I have not addressed at all... I don't have an advisor. I was planning on dealing with that after I get out there..

The professors/staff/classes aren't going to change whether you visit them or not, but you'll save lots of cash. If you really want to check out housing and think that's a legit reason based on what the housing situation is like in that area (if renting blind is really unreasonable or if it's difficult to find a place or whatever), then I guess you could use that as a logical reason to go.

I'm just going to live in grad housing the first year, and there's really only 1 choice for engineering students, which is the large grad apartment area. So there's not much to decide there either..

Thanks for all the input... I'm guessing I'll just wait it out at this point and see the campus when I get out there in the fall. Boo.

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umm - what if someone hasn't been assigned an advisor yet, and needs to meet with the real people behind the famous names - would that be a good reason to attend ?

To attend a visiting day? I'd say yes. You need to know that you can work with at least one of your potential advisers. That's crucial to a successful and timely completion of your PhD. However, again, if you already accepted, that reasoning diminishes.

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I'm wondering whether the department might be able to fund your visit, especially if you haven't already visited. If they're funding visits for all the prospective students, there might be some money for you too, all the more so if there's a formal visiting day. If there's a formal day, I think you could probably ask without any weirdness: say something about how much you'd love to go meet the profs and the rest of the cohort, etc., but you can't afford it, and you wonder if they're flying people out, and if so whether they might be able to reimburse you just so that you have a chance to meet everyone. If you use a light touch, you could probably make inquiries without being obnoxious.

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I would talk to the department - ask if they have any type of funding that would help you out. As cheesy as it sounds, maybe there is a student who wouldn't mind you crashing on their couch? Do you know anyone in the area?

I think going would be a great idea. But its not worth $800.

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No point, since you already accepted admission. And I doubt they would fund you when they don't have to (unless there is money leftover). It seems like a waste of money. But I can understand your enthusiasm. Maybe you should plan to arrive early at the end of summer instead.

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Definitely visit! There are some totally dicey areas of Palo Alto!! Congrats!!

Haha, only East Palo Alto. I don't think there are any dicey areas of Palo Alto proper. But you can ask over in the City Guide thread if you're curious!

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