Prepare for Visit Day?

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 6:16 pm

Does anyone have anything to share their experience about what goes on visit days?
I know you meet the department and your potential classmates, grad students, post doc etc.

I imagine that I should be prepared to talk to potential advisors with questions about research and stuff.

Should I bring copies of resumes and CVs? How formal is it?

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Jan 28, 2015 6:28 pm

In my experience it's quite informal, and was really a way for the department to sell itself to you. You should come with questions that will help you decide if you want to matriculate there, and if you have research groups in mind, contact them ahead of time so you know someone (preferably the PI + a grad student) will be around to talk about the work and culture of the group. I wouldn't be handing out CV's or anything.

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby TakeruK » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:19 am

Agree with the above! Also it's usually quite busy. You're normally scheduled for meetings and/or tours back to back to back to back....At almost every school, I had something on my schedule from 8am to 10pm or so. The official programming usually ends at dinner, but there is often social events that happen afterwards and some might go late.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 2:17 pm

Thank you so much for the responses bfollinprm and TakeruK! I hate the travelling part, it just stresses me out. That stress has me freaking about the rest.

I'll go study some materials related to work by my potential PIs and stuff. I am looking forward to the tours and meeting people!

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:17 pm

I didn't want to start a new thread, but I have one more question.

How much did you take into account the location of your school? In terms of safety, crime, etc? I wouldn't be able to afford a car, so I am going to take that into account.

I realize this is rather more personal. For me it matters a lot, but until I make the visit and get to know the departments I won't know how much it matters. Though, it mattered to the point that I didn't bother applying to certain schools that were in really really bad areas...

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:53 pm

PathIntegrals92 wrote:I didn't want to start a new thread, but I have one more question.

How much did you take into account the location of your school? In terms of safety, crime, etc? I wouldn't be able to afford a car, so I am going to take that into account.

I realize this is rather more personal. For me it matters a lot, but until I make the visit and get to know the departments I won't know how much it matters. Though, it mattered to the point that I didn't bother applying to certain schools that were in really really bad areas...


I would say that I actually based by decision with equal weighting on academic and personal reasons.

Academic reasons: Access to telescopes, good interpersonal match with potential advisors (with an s!), got along well with current students, liked the coursework, liked the format of the exam(s), low TA requirements (but option for more teaching if desired).

Personal reasons: Close to family, not covered in snow, not boiling hot, affordable cost of living (i.e. stipend level), opportunities for my spouse to find work, diversity of the population, availability of ethnic foods that I like, quality of sushi, not living in a small college town, close enough to fun things we can take weekend trips to.

There was no ideal school that had every single one of these things of course, but I ended up picking one that matched the most options. I weighed both personal and academic reasons 50/50 because I am doing science to be happy in my career, so there's being unhappy outside of work would cancel out all the happiness I would get out of doing science. Not to mention that I think one is much more productive when one is happy and not worrying about other things!

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 8:20 pm

TakeruK wrote:I would say that I actually based by decision with equal weighting on academic and personal reasons.

Academic reasons: Access to telescopes, good interpersonal match with potential advisors (with an s!), got along well with current students, liked the coursework, liked the format of the exam(s), low TA requirements (but option for more teaching if desired).

Personal reasons: Close to family, not covered in snow, not boiling hot, affordable cost of living (i.e. stipend level), opportunities for my spouse to find work, diversity of the population, availability of ethnic foods that I like, quality of sushi, not living in a small college town, close enough to fun things we can take weekend trips to.

There was no ideal school that had every single one of these things of course, but I ended up picking one that matched the most options. I weighed both personal and academic reasons 50/50 because I am doing science to be happy in my career, so there's being unhappy outside of work would cancel out all the happiness I would get out of doing science. Not to mention that I think one is much more productive when one is happy and not worrying about other things!


Thanks for the reply! I agree that having a happy personal life leads to a much more productive professional life! I'm still single, but my family always keep telling me they want me to be close by. At the moment, I don't see how that's possible. I am also unsure if that's what I want even though I love my family.

Diversity of population+ethnic food is important to me too!

I do hope that most graduate schools take into consideration the cost of living while giving out stipends. I realize that probably give the minimum amount to survive, no?

jbb
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Dec 08, 2014 2:57 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby jbb » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:02 pm

TakeruK wrote:I do hope that most graduate schools take into consideration the cost of living while giving out stipends. I realize that probably give the minimum amount to survive, no?


Well, I can't say for sure that they do or don't on the whole but Indiana has made a point of including the cost of living comparison in their letter. It's low there, as it's in the middle of nowhere. So they are definitely aware of it at least. I have no idea about other schools.

User avatar
YodaT
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby YodaT » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:31 pm

jbb wrote:
TakeruK wrote:I do hope that most graduate schools take into consideration the cost of living while giving out stipends. I realize that probably give the minimum amount to survive, no?


Well, I can't say for sure that they do or don't on the whole but Indiana has made a point of including the cost of living comparison in their letter. It's low there, as it's in the middle of nowhere. So they are definitely aware of it at least. I have no idea about other schools.



most schools seem to take into account the cost of living. i know for students here in new york and the stipend offer i got from chicago were both a bit more than other places.

about visit day, would you recommend visiting on a day different than scheduled? personally it'd be nice if i visited one week later mainly because that'd be the beginning of my spring break, no exams to worry about, and a chance to spend spring break with friends attending the uni i'll be visiting.

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby TakeruK » Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:12 pm

Schools do take cost of living into account when making stipend offers but sometimes they are just limited by the resources they have. That is, due to cost of living, stipend values can vary drastically from one school to another.

For example, I am in a high cost of living area and a stipend of $30,000 is enough to live comfortably and have a little bit extra for luxuries like owning a car, travel, etc. Another school offered only $18,000 in a moderately high cost of living city. Yet another school had an offer of $27,000 in a very low cost of living area--enough for grad students to buy homes! And another place offered $36,000 in another low cost of living area! So, the highest cost of living area is not always going to offer you the most money.

When I said stipends were part of my decision making process, it was not "most money", but my criteria for stipend was just that it needs to be high enough to not have to worry about money for day-to-day decision (i.e. I don't want to have to worry about buying a coffee or paying rent, or buying groceries and paying rent; nor do I want to have to share a house with a ton of other people to be able to afford rent). Once you reach this minimum, I don't think having a few extra thousand per year is worth sacrificing the other important aspects of your decision. The only school where I actually considered the extra money might be worth it was the $36k/year in low cost of living area offer (it would be like earning an extra $10k or so where I live now) but there were other factors that outweighed the money in the end.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:55 pm

Thanks for the very thorough response again TakeruK!

Wow the schools that gave you a lot of money for low cost living areas must really want you!

I get this feeling that I better start saving up for a car in the near future.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:38 am

Reviving this thread again because i didn't want to start a new one.

When you guys go to visit day and you have one+one meeting with PIs, did you only meet with PIs you indicated in your SOP?

I sort of want to email PIs I didn't mention in my SOP to ask if they would be there........

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:20 am

PathIntegrals92 wrote:Reviving this thread again because i didn't want to start a new one.

When you guys go to visit day and you have one+one meeting with PIs, did you only meet with PIs you indicated in your SOP?

I sort of want to email PIs I didn't mention in my SOP to ask if they would be there........


There will be someone (usually a staff member) that will coordinate your visit day schedule. They often email you ahead of time and ask who you would like to meet with. They also ask the profs the same question. Then, they schedule you to meet with the profs on your list, the profs that requested you, and then fill the remaining spots with whoever is available. So, you should expect to be in a meeting with a prof, postdoc, or graduate student for every minute from 9am to 5pm, basically (with some breaks for food).

In my program, there are only ~7 profs so every visitor meets with almost every prof that is available!

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:47 pm

TakeruK wrote:There will be someone (usually a staff member) that will coordinate your visit day schedule. They often email you ahead of time and ask who you would like to meet with. They also ask the profs the same question. Then, they schedule you to meet with the profs on your list, the profs that requested you, and then fill the remaining spots with whoever is available. So, you should expect to be in a meeting with a prof, postdoc, or graduate student for every minute from 9am to 5pm, basically (with some breaks for food).

In my program, there are only ~7 profs so every visitor meets with almost every prof that is available!


Thanks for the reply again! I got an email about which professors I wanted to meet just this past Friday! I'm looking forward to the visit!

PhysicsIsCool
Posts: 31
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:01 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby PhysicsIsCool » Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:45 pm

So does anyone know about what happens if you visit during a different weekend than the open house dates for a school? Like I'm assuming there won't only be one person with a conflict, so will they try to schedule multiple people to go on the alternate dates? So at least the prospective students will have some company? Being alone for the weekend would make me nervous :/

User avatar
YodaT
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby YodaT » Mon Feb 16, 2015 3:58 pm

PhysicsIsCool wrote:So does anyone know about what happens if you visit during a different weekend than the open house dates for a school? Like I'm assuming there won't only be one person with a conflict, so will they try to schedule multiple people to go on the alternate dates? So at least the prospective students will have some company? Being alone for the weekend would make me nervous :/


Well, you'll have grad students to hangout with... far better than prospectives imo.

Also, my personal strategy to prepare for visit is to read up on some of their research (website, recent papers, maybe review class notes on the topic).

TakeruK
Posts: 812
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Prepare for Visit Day?

Postby TakeruK » Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:43 am

PhysicsIsCool wrote:So does anyone know about what happens if you visit during a different weekend than the open house dates for a school? Like I'm assuming there won't only be one person with a conflict, so will they try to schedule multiple people to go on the alternate dates? So at least the prospective students will have some company? Being alone for the weekend would make me nervous :/


For one school, I visited on the following Mon-Tues instead of the "real" visit dates (the previous Thurs-Fri) so that I could combine two school visits in the same week. In this case, 2 other students had a conflict too so it was a mini visit days with 3 of us. They scheduled a lot of the same social events and the grad students were happy to have additional days of free food.

For Canadian schools, I did all of my visits on my own dates, not part of the official visit days. Many schools did not even have official visit days and just scheduled individual visits.

I think the only real difference (based on my experience with both types of visits) is that you get to meet more of your other potential colleagues during the "real" visit days. This is really valuable since your fellow prospectives are the ones you would likely spend the most time with in grad school and I kept in touch with lots of my fellow prospectives (and we later compared notes after the visits etc.). However, while this is really valuable, I would value other things like visiting another school or preventing extra cross-country flights and reducing your time away from home as more valuable! (i.e. try to visit on the "real" days but it's worth missing out on if you have other good reasons to reschedule)




Return to “School Selection”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests