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Invited to a visit, but not sure on meeting other professors?


chinolicious23

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I've been invited to visit the campus and meet the professor I've been in contact with since the beginning of my application process. My research interests align really well with the professor I've been emailing, but he said that when I visit, he wants me to meet with 5 other professors and the department director.

 

Should I learn all the research points for every professor, even when they don't align with my interests at all? Should I pretend to be interested in the other professors' works, or say that my research interests don't match with theirs? Do I just stick to general questions about the school in general or how their lab operates?

 

Just not sure how specific my questions should get for the professors whose work I am not familiar with.

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If it is an interview visit, then I would suggest learning the broad research interest of the other professors, and more specifically the head of the department's work. If they're going to have anything to do with whether you'll be admitted or not, it's important to leave a good impression. By talking to them about their research you also get the chance to present yourself as broad-minded and as possesing scholarly curiousity, which I think most adcomms members would like to see.

 

If it's not an interview but rather just a "get to know you" visit, then you obviously don't need to put as much work into this. Though, showing a bit of interest in what they do is probably still a good idea- you never know if and when you'd might need their help with something...It's also just good academic manners if there is such a thing :)

Edited by Chubberubber
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I've been invited to visit the campus and meet the professor I've been in contact with since the beginning of my application process. My research interests align really well with the professor I've been emailing, but he said that when I visit, he wants me to meet with 5 other professors and the department director.

 

Should I learn all the research points for every professor, even when they don't align with my interests at all? Should I pretend to be interested in the other professors' works, or say that my research interests don't match with theirs? Do I just stick to general questions about the school in general or how their lab operates?

 

Just not sure how specific my questions should get for the professors whose work I am not familiar with.

Absolutely. Don't be nervous, just be you; as the previous person noted, this is a "get to know you" thing. But you should absolutely do your research. Think of it like a job interview: you always go in prepared (over-prepared) and ready for any and all cases. Don't psyche yourself out! but always be ready to answer, naturally (if possible). You won't to appear confident and capable.

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Definitely do your research! Be prepared to talk about their research and how it might intersect with yours. Remember that you'll have to have a committee, not just an advisor, so you'll need 2-4 additional faculty members involved. Plus, you'll probably have to take classes (if this is in the USA) with someone other than your advisor. So, it pays to make a good impression with those people.

 

FWIW, it's customary, especially if flying an admitted student in for a visit, for that person to meet with multiple faculty members in 1-on-1 meetings. This helps you get to know the faculty and lets them get to know you. I would think it odd if you were there for a couple of days and only met with your advisor.

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Keep in mind that you are not attending a school for just one professor.  You are applying to a program in a department made up of a collection of faculty members.  In the end, you will most likely only be doing research with one professor, but you will come to know several if not all of the professors in your department fairly well. 

 

A student may be a perfect fit for his/her advisor, but if that student does not fit well with the program (i.e., doesn't get along with others, doesn't show any interest in collegiality, seems to only be one-faceted/interested or competent in only one element of a field of study), then problems could arise later in the course of study, particularly when you choose your committee, as someone referenced above.  

 

Also, it's important to keep in mind that many people strive to collaborate within their department.  If I were interviewing a student, I would be interested in seeing whether he/she has any networking skills and/or may be interested in or capable of initiating, developing or contributing in some way to collaborative project designs.   

 

All told, I'd say you should not feign interest in anything, because you'll only be hurting yourself.  If you leave someone the impression that you are interested in their work, you may find a rude awakening later when he/she realizes (which they will) the truth.  Worst case scenario is that the interviewer can see through the fictitious interest.  As someone said before, be yourself, but also find what, within a person's work, is interesting to you. You don't have to know their research history or even the major findings of his/her lab, but in genuinely showing interest in some component of that person's life's work, you'll make a good impression for all while also opening your own mind for future considerations, if/when necessary.

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