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Nolagirl

Staying with Grad Students when you're local

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Hey, Grad Cafe!

 

I've seen some posts about this for people who live out of state/city, but I'm not sure what to do. I just got my first on campus interview invite, and it is at a local university. There is an opportunity to stay with a current grad student after the interview day and social gathering that evening. Since I'm a local, should I still do this? Or is it expected that I will decline since I live 30 minutes away? What would be the advantages/disadvantages of my choice?

I appreciate any advice or feedback y'all have!

 

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In general, I find it strange that universities expect you to stay overnight with someone who is virtually a stranger, but nonetheless...

I don't see how staying with the grad student would disadvantage you. It will show that you are serious about the school, and that you are genuinely interested in being part of the program. You will also have the opportunity to connect with a current student, and sometimes they weigh in on admissions decisions. This is the choice I would make, even though it would make me pretty uncomfortable and I find it a very odd thing. And, come to think of it, they probably weren't looking at your address when they issued the invite.

If you really REALLY don't want to stay with the graduate student, I think it's okay to communicate that. Just let them know that it's because you're local and don't want to inconvenience the student. However, either way you should do the social gathering.  

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Advantages: You get to have some one-on-one time with a current graduate student and a chance to ask questions in a less formal setting. You have the chance to get additional insight into what it's like to be a grad student there (where you might live, what amenities you can afford to have, etc.). It's also probably less than 30 minutes away from campus, shortening your commute in the morning.

Disadvantages: Sharing space, having to "on" for longer, an additional chance to make a fool of yourself.

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It might help to think of it like a preview of what traveling with your classmates to conferences will be like.  Often students split hotel rooms and may end up having meals or socializing together by default.  You don't have to do this of course, but you may be assumed antisocial or odd if you're adamant about not doing it.

Even though you are local and likely familiar with the area I'd recommend staying with a student.  As others have said it cuts down on your costs, saves you time, and you get more informal opportunities to learn about the program and see how you can live on your stipend.  With that said, don't be shy about expressing you're tired and need to call it a night.

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Thank you all so much for the insight! I will definitely take this into account. It seems like a meaningful extra experience that definitely won't hurt!

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As someone who is organizing an interview day, I say DECLINE!!! Finding willing hosts is such a pain, and if you're local just go home! Save those precious spots for those who need it. Definitely go to the social event, but skip the actual overnight.

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I think one of the reasons that you got offered an overnight stay is that they wanted to treat all prospective students equally and offer everyone a spot overnight if they want it. I don't know your full situation so I can't really say what's best for you. I think if staying overnight with a student will help you properly be engaged in the visit events then I would stay overnight. A 30 minute commute could mean a lot of different things (e.g. is it driving to the next town over, or a 30 minute walk or a 30 minute self-drive in the city or 30 minute via public transit etc). If the method of travel is not going to be something you do regularly and if it will distract you from the visit (or even make you late) then I think it's fine to stay with the graduate student. I think you should default to politely declining and letting the school know you only live 30 minutes away if you are able to comfortably manage your own transportation. I don't think there is right/wrong answer though.

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Thank you! This has all been helpful. I decided to decline. I actually received my B.S. from this school, so I told them that since I am local, I would manage my own transportation, and how much I appreciate the offer. I also reiterated my enthusiasm for the rest of the events so that they didn't think I was declining out of a lack of interest. The commute is something I've done a million times, so I'm not worried about it. I feel better knowing that you all had the same impression I did about the reasons this offer was made! I didn't want to say no if it would hurt my chances.

 

Thanks y'all!!

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