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Hi everyone! I have a general query about what to make of a visit experience.

I recently visited a school, and I really like the program itself. However, I felt very out of place trying to interact with the other prospective students. I was quite excited to meet them, but I got some weird vibes when trying to strike up conversations. One-on-one, people were pretty friendly. The groups, on the other hand, were quite uncomfortable to interact with. 

Should I draw any sort of conclusions from the interactions that I had with other prospies? I don't know who would end up in the eventual cohort, and I doubt that my status as a candidate is being judged based off of my ability to chit chat. But I do worry that the sense I got from these interactions could be another indicator of fit (twofold: whether I think I'll fit in, and whether the program thinks I'll fit in).

Any advice or anecdotes? Should I not be concerned about this?

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I also had a lot of awkward interactions. I think that's just me though. I suck at casual conversations. I often don't know what to say. I also don't say much at bars/restaurants when they're too loud and I can't hear what people are saying. I also stutter, which makes me reluctant to speak sometimes. Nonetheless, though I can't speak for everyone, I was very excited about the idea of working/hanging out with the other prospective students!

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Philosophers are just awkward in general.  I'm obviously including myself in that generalisation, and realise that I too am quite awkward.  I've had some pretty awkward interactions, and frankly, I get tired of only talking about what kind of philosophy I'm interested in.  I won't think too far into it though, I know I take a while to warm up to people, and I'm inflicted with resting bitch face so people take a while to warm up to me.

I think we do have to disentangle uncomfortable from straight awkwardness, though.  If the department feels uncomfortable and it's not something you think time will solve, then trust your gut.

PS.  @Naruto, if it's any consolation, I thought you were better at casual conversation than I was when we met at Western :P

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On 3/20/2017 at 9:09 PM, Rastereyes said:

Hi everyone! I have a general query about what to make of a visit experience.

I recently visited a school, and I really like the program itself. However, I felt very out of place trying to interact with the other prospective students. I was quite excited to meet them, but I got some weird vibes when trying to strike up conversations. One-on-one, people were pretty friendly. The groups, on the other hand, were quite uncomfortable to interact with. 

Should I draw any sort of conclusions from the interactions that I had with other prospies? I don't know who would end up in the eventual cohort, and I doubt that my status as a candidate is being judged based off of my ability to chit chat. But I do worry that the sense I got from these interactions could be another indicator of fit (twofold: whether I think I'll fit in, and whether the program thinks I'll fit in).

Any advice or anecdotes? Should I not be concerned about this?

Only one person from my visit actually ended up in my cohort (and I'm not at a low-ranked program where a ton of people should be expected to decline), so I really wouldn't make a decision based on this. If anything it's the interactions you had with current students that you should base your decision on. Remember that programs are always in a state of flux from year to year.

It's also worth noting that prospectives visits are awkward for everyone involved. People act differently outside of them, though usually not markedly different. I just wouldn't put much stock into this unless you got a really bad gut feeling from everyone (not just your fellow prospectives).

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  • 2 weeks later...

What I don't understand is why philosophy students don't keep up on hygiene. At the two schools I've been to and at my program, prospective students (and some grad students)* have clearly not showered in that day or in perhaps days. Their negligence indicates something I would consider inappropriate and unprofessional; as an administrator, I would consider this an orange flag regarding the worthiness of investment (will they not work well with coworkers? will they be malodorous in front of students? will they not make a good impression on the market, and thus not place well?)

* not talking about current grad students at my program. But more than one prospective student thus far.

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14 minutes ago, Duns Eith said:

What I don't understand is why philosophy students don't keep up on hygiene. At the two schools I've been to and at my program, prospective students (and some grad students)* have clearly not showered in that day or in perhaps days. Their negligence indicates something I would consider inappropriate and unprofessional; as an administrator, I would consider this an orange flag regarding the worthiness of investment (will they not work well with coworkers? will they be malodorous in front of students? will they not make a good impression on the market, and thus not place well?)

* not talking about current grad students at my program. But more than one prospective student thus far.

I think one thing to consider is that prospectives often stay with grad students, and some people aren't as comfortable showering in someone else's house, maybe using their towel, etc. Prospectives have also been traveling, which isn't always conducive to the most pleasant odors. I don't think missing a shower for one day is that horrible for most people, but hopefully the smellier students you met know their limits and clean accordingly in the future! 

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41 minutes ago, Duns Eith said:

What I don't understand is why philosophy students don't keep up on hygiene. At the two schools I've been to and at my program, prospective students (and some grad students)* have clearly not showered in that day or in perhaps days. Their negligence indicates something I would consider inappropriate and unprofessional; as an administrator, I would consider this an orange flag regarding the worthiness of investment (will they not work well with coworkers? will they be malodorous in front of students? will they not make a good impression on the market, and thus not place well?)

* not talking about current grad students at my program. But more than one prospective student thus far.

On a related note. An inordinate number of philosophers I've come into contact with are *very* loud eaters. That is, they eat with their mouths open with every chew. It's very annoying, and it's hard to believe that many people can be so socially unaware. But, it persists. 

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38 minutes ago, Ibycus said:

I think one thing to consider is that prospectives often stay with grad students, and some people aren't as comfortable showering in someone else's house, maybe using their towel, etc. Prospectives have also been traveling, which isn't always conducive to the most pleasant odors. I don't think missing a shower for one day is that horrible for most people, but hopefully the smellier students you met know their limits and clean accordingly in the future! 

Perhaps a reasonable margin, but that would mitigate worries only if I had not known they stayed at a hotel...

Even so, current grad students are without the excuse and, percentage-wise, the more frequent offender.

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1 hour ago, Nichi said:

I personally don't care that much about the personal habits of others. I don't like beige much, but if you want to paint your walls beige, enjoy yourself.

You gave me two negative reps for this? I voice what I thought was a genuine professional concern and makes visits awkward, and you take my posts as inappropriate/offensive to the forum community?

I am talking exclusively about cases where their hair is greasy and disheveled, and you can smell them across the room.

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8 hours ago, Duns Eith said:

You gave me two negative reps for this? I voice what I thought was a genuine professional concern and makes visits awkward, and you take my posts as inappropriate/offensive to the forum community?

I am talking exclusively about cases where their hair is greasy and disheveled, and you can smell them across the room.

I guess I'll try to take a moderate position here: I don't think I owe schoolmates a duty to keep my care greaseless or combed; it's my hair, I'll do what I want with it. But reeking is another matter entirely. We do owe each other basically neutral (or good!) body odors, and I'd hate to will that my (hypothetical!) stinkiness be made a universal law...

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8 hours ago, Duns Eith said:

You gave me two negative reps for this? I voice what I thought was a genuine professional concern and makes visits awkward, and you take my posts as inappropriate/offensive to the forum community?

I am talking exclusively about cases where their hair is greasy and disheveled, and you can smell them across the room.

Right. It's not that it's merely a critique of someone's personal habits; it's about behaviors that are discourteous and unprofessional, even if only mildly so. 

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1 hour ago, Ibycus said:

I guess I'll try to take a moderate position here: I don't think I owe schoolmates a duty to keep my care greaseless or combed; it's my hair, I'll do what I want with it. But reeking is another matter entirely. We do owe each other basically neutral (or good!) body odors, and I'd hate to will that my (hypothetical!) stinkiness be made a universal law...

It's interesting the kind of asymmetry this posits between sight and smell. You're basically saying that I owe it to other people not be unpleasant to smell in public places, but I don't owe it to other not be unpleasant to see in public places. The kinds of considerations that I can think of that one might use to justify this asymmetry include: that bad smells are less ignorable than bad sights (one can simply look away), that one can fix a perceived bad body odor but can't fix a perceived unpleasant look, and that there is more agreement about what smells bad than about what looks bad. But there are certainly cases in which these considerations don't justify an asymmetry, and it's interesting to think about which way we would go in these cases (whether an obligation obtains or not). For example, in a small public place it might not be much easier it ignore an unpleasant sight than an unpleasant smell. Certain visual features are fixable and fairly universally thought of as unpleasant, such as having dried blood crusted on one's face. I think in that sort of case (the dried blood one), we might think the same sort of thing as we would about someone with bad BO, namely that they have an obligation to fix it before coming into public places. It should be noted that this all depends on the context of the public place and the people that might be expected to be in it.

What about the greasy hair case? It is fixable, but I wonder how universally agreed upon it is in terms of its unpleasantness.

Sorry about the tangent!

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51 minutes ago, RumHaven said:

It's interesting the kind of asymmetry this posits between sight and smell. You're basically saying that I owe it to other people not be unpleasant to smell in public places, but I don't owe it to other not be unpleasant to see in public places. The kinds of considerations that I can think of that one might use to justify this asymmetry include: that bad smells are less ignorable than bad sights (one can simply look away), that one can fix a perceived bad body odor but can't fix a perceived unpleasant look, and that there is more agreement about what smells bad than about what looks bad. But there are certainly cases in which these considerations don't justify an asymmetry, and it's interesting to think about which way we would go in these cases (whether an obligation obtains or not). For example, in a small public place it might not be much easier it ignore an unpleasant sight than an unpleasant smell. Certain visual features are fixable and fairly universally thought of as unpleasant, such as having dried blood crusted on one's face. I think in that sort of case (the dried blood one), we might think the same sort of thing as we would about someone with bad BO, namely that they have an obligation to fix it before coming into public places. It should be noted that this all depends on the context of the public place and the people that might be expected to be in it.

What about the greasy hair case? It is fixable, but I wonder how universally agreed upon it is in terms of its unpleasantness.

Sorry about the tangent!

Yeah, so I think a key part of my basic argument is that people don't necessarily look bad (or even worse than usual) with greasy or disheveled hair. I even think some people's hair (mine included! :p) looks better uncombed. 

The blood example is a little tricky because it might raise health concerns for someone (even if it is scabbed over, what if it reopens, the person has bloody hands, etc.?). If I glued dead maggots to my face, I think pretty much everyone would recoil at the sight of me, and I think that sort of thing would be inappropriate in a classroom (or, uh, anywhere public). But I don't think having greasy+disheveled hair is inappropriate in a classroom. Unprofessional? Sure, depending on your profession. But we're not appearing in a courtroom or testifying before Congress here....

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Really?

Take a damn shower. People have to smell you -- they have to sit next to you for 2-3 hours in a (probably hot & stuffy) seminar room. Shower for the sake of others, but for goodness sake give enough of a damn about yourself to take care of yourself. Do whatever you want with your hair, but I really can't imagine it feels very good to walk around stank AF.

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On 4/6/2017 at 10:37 AM, Dialectica said:

it's about behaviors that are discourteous and unprofessional,

I can see the discourteous angle if someone really is universally and substantially unpleasant to be near because of a removable scent. The word "unprofessional" doesn't appear to mean anything here other than "not in accordance with the aesthetic preferences of the dominant subculture." 

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1 hour ago, Nichi said:

I can see the discourteous angle if someone really is universally and substantially unpleasant to be near because of a removable scent. The word "unprofessional" doesn't appear to mean anything here other than "not in accordance with the aesthetic preferences of the dominant subculture." 

 

Based on my experience, the dominant subculture of academic philosophy may very well be one where people do not regularly use deodorant, tbh. 

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