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Best time to visit graduate schools and professors?


coolio

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Hi everyone,

I am applying to Ph.D. program for Fall 2017 start and I am planning to make a few visits to universities and profs between now until then. My hope really is that I could make a few connections with profs in the lab that I want to work in. The application process will open in September 2016 and will close around December 2016. In your opinion, is it considered more opportune to visit schools before or after submitting the application?  Are there certain times of the year (months or semesters) that are more conducive?  I have seen the open house of some programs are scheduled in the November time frame.  If I already submit my application in September, I am not sure if November is considered too late.  

If you can share your experience on when is considered a good time to visit schools and talk to profs, that would be appreciated.  Thanks.

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I applied last cycle and I visited or made contact with professors before I submitted my application. The school I'll be attending I visited the summer before applying because I was in the area visiting family. I visited a school close to my undergrad institution in October. The other 2 I applied to weren't practical to visit so I e-mailed professors also in October. I submitted my applications in November and all applications had Dec. 15th deadlines.

I wouldn't drop a whole bunch of money on visiting schools if they aren't already near you or you aren't visiting the area already for another reason. 

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Spending money on visits before you've been accepted isn't a good use of your financial resources unless you're independently wealthy or have a trust fund. Similarly, I would skip the open house. To make a connection, you could send emails and arrange a Skype or phone conversation to further discuss your interests (assuming the POI is interested in that). Once you've been admitted, there's usually funding to assist with a visit where you could meet the POI in person, tour the lab, etc.

Also, why are you applying in September if the applications don't close until December? There's no benefit to applying early when it comes to PhD program admissions. Applications are reviewed at the same time and that review won't begin until after the application deadline. Moreover, in September, labs may not know about the status of pending grants, which can change whether or not they're even accepting new students. 

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1 hour ago, rising_star said:

Also, why are you applying in September if the applications don't close until December? There's no benefit to applying early when it comes to PhD program admissions. Applications are reviewed at the same time and that review won't begin until after the application deadline. Moreover, in September, labs may not know about the status of pending grants, which can change whether or not they're even accepting new students. 

To that I'll add my two cents. It's probably in your best interest to wait until December to submit your applications -solely because you might end up tweaking your interest during the semester, especially if you are taking more classes to increase your exposure. In addition to that, you might also want to submit coursework you completed in the most recent semester. Also, I utilized my professors office hours during fall semester to get advice/editing help with my personal statement/SOP, and to secure great LORs from them. 

My school didn't even have a "prospective students weekend" until like March/April so, it might be best to wait for something like that? 

Edited by charlemagne88
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To get the most out of my travel dollar i attended a conference that was attended by quite a few of the people I am interested in working with (around March)  and was able to schedule some time with a few of them to talk. While I don't know, I have to think it will help my application. Two weeks ago I met with a Prof (250 mi), but am finding that getting them in the summer is a bit touch and go due to travel schedules. The other one I am to meet will be in Sep.

I think that meeting them before the app goes in is a good idea, as it will give me a sense of the quality of fit, how we get along, and their interest in me. If if doesn't feel good I can move my SOP/POI in a different direction or look at a different school.

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