astroprof wrote:aby - ignore the replies from the trolls. It is very reasonable to e-mail
specific professors in the departments with whom you may have overlapping
research interests to request an opportunity to speak with them. Explain
that you are in town on business, are interested in their graduate program
for fall 2013, and that you would like to meet people in the program if possible.
You may get pushed off to a graduate student host, but that is actually exactly
who you want to speak with to get a feel for the department. Don't expect
to get reimbursed for the trip, don't expect to get many hours of time with a
professor, but do expect to get a good feel for the department and campus.
Such visits can be invaluable in creating your short list of schools, and you
are to be commended for realizing that you have this opportunity (even with
Erm sure, when basically you gave a very long-winded and watered down version of mine. The reality is it's just a huge inconvenience for the person at such a short notice.