Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

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pichinko
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Joined: Sat May 25, 2013 1:42 pm

Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby pichinko » Thu Jan 30, 2014 8:44 pm

Has anyone ever heard of someone bringing a significant other to a visit weekend? (Not to attend physics department events, but to visit a new town where they may be moving.) Obviously, the guest's airfare wouldn't be reimbursed, but how to deal with the hotel? Would my significant other have to find somewhere else to stay while I room with a stranger?

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

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby TakeruK » Thu Jan 30, 2014 9:39 pm

Hi,

My wife visited Cornell Astronomy & Space Sciences with me in 2012. They were originally going to have me stay with another graduate student and I asked them if my wife could visit with me (as she would have an equal vote as me as to where we move to) and said that we would prefer to make our own accommodation arrangements instead of overcrowding a grad student's place.

It worked out for us that we lived within driving distance and my wife had employee benefits that gave us greatly discounted hotel rates. So, I said that since driving would save the school a lot of money compared to the students that were flying in, I asked if we could get reimbursed for the hotel instead. I asked what the maximum amount Cornell was willing to reimburse and that we would see if we could afford to stay at a hotel within that budget.

They were very accommodating and understanding to our request. They gave us a maximum of $500, which was more than enough to cover the mileage and 3 nights at a hotel with my wife's employee discount. They covered food expenses for me, including meals during the drive, but not for my wife, of course. The school also invited my wife to join in as many events with me and the other graduate students as she would like. So, she was invited to the social events and even the meals that the department provided. They even made sure she had something to do while I was in my one-on-one meetings with various professors--they gave her a campus map and set up a small desk for her to work, check email, etc.

I'm not saying that all schools will be this receptive to a guest, but I think it is a reasonable thing to ask about. For the hotel issue, I think the best thing is to explain your preference, and ask how much they are willing to pay for, and be open to having to pay some of the extra costs yourself. I think it's completely fair to request to stay in a hotel instead of with a student, as long as you don't end up costing them (too much) more than the other visiting students.

I'd be interested in hearing how it works out for you, please update us if you are wiling to :)

r4ve
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:18 pm

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby r4ve » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:27 am

Sorry, this is somewhat irrelevant, but related enough that i didnt want to start a new post. i havent responded to the schools about open houses yet, but do they usually accommodate for ALL costs, or just a part? does it depend on the school?

bfollinprm
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Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:48 am

Normally all costs (flight, housing, food), up to a cap. If you're flying across the country, you might hit the cap, so you can try to do the other-coast schools all in one go, and coordinate with the administrators to share flight costs.

r4ve
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Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:18 pm

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby r4ve » Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:36 pm

Thanks for the info. Also, what generally happens at these open houses? are the schedules rigid or do you have time for yourself to explore the area, neighborhood, etc?

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

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby TakeruK » Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:05 pm

r4ve wrote:Thanks for the info. Also, what generally happens at these open houses? are the schedules rigid or do you have time for yourself to explore the area, neighborhood, etc?


It really depends. I would expect to be scheduled for events from breakfast to dinner. Some places will rigidly schedule you meet with certain professors and/or students in like 30 minute chunks throughout the day. You might sit in on some talks/seminars, as well as attend a few classes. There may be tours of the labs as well and people might show you around campus. You might get an hour here or there to do whatever you want, but don't plan on being able to take off for a whole afternoon. I think it's important to attend the scheduled programming because that's what you're there for and that's why they are paying for you to come.

Usually some events will come with some choices, and there may be optional social events in the evening or weekend (if it's a Friday-Saturday visit). I think visiting the city/campus and exploring on your own is important too, however, I would try to keep a flexible schedule so that you can fit this around the planned events or if the graduate students invite you (and other visitors) out for drinks or something. That is, don't make any rigid plans during your visit days even for the evenings. I would recommend scheduling your arriving/departing flight so that you can get at least one half-day just by yourself to explore the city if you'd like though (i.e. if the visit is Monday and Tuesday, pick a departing flight on Wednesday evening/late afternoon so you have the first half of Wednesday to do what you want).

r4ve
Posts: 16
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:18 pm

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby r4ve » Fri Jan 31, 2014 5:24 pm

Thanks! That's great to know. I was under the impression that even the arriving/departing flights were rigidly set, but I guess that's not the case.

Low
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Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:56 pm

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby Low » Mon Feb 03, 2014 5:57 pm

Definitely ask. I'm faced with the same situation, and when I asked I was told that they did not have funding to cover any significant other costs. We'll be driving to the location, so transport isn't a problem, but the hotels are booked two to a room (not exactly my preferred way of lodging anyway!). In the end, I'm reserving a room for us on my own, but if they happen to have an odd number of students visiting they offered to give us the room with no other occupant.

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

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby TakeruK » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:12 pm

r4ve wrote:Thanks! That's great to know. I was under the impression that even the arriving/departing flights were rigidly set, but I guess that's not the case.


Some schools will book flights for you (instead of you booking them and getting reimbursed). If that's the case, then they are "set", but like the general theme of this thread says, you should definitely ask if you want to be able to set your own schedule.

In general, I have found that the department is willing to work with you to figure out the best schedule. They don't really have much to gain by forcing you to stick with rigid travel plans. However, if you don't say anything, they might just go ahead and book you on the path that is easiest for them. So I would recommend bringing up any requests or special arrangements when they first mention a visit, so that you and them (and other schools if you are doing multiple visits) can work out the best itinerary!

pichinko
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat May 25, 2013 1:42 pm

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby pichinko » Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:40 pm

Low wrote:Definitely ask. I'm faced with the same situation, and when I asked I was told that they did not have funding to cover any significant other costs. We'll be driving to the location, so transport isn't a problem, but the hotels are booked two to a room (not exactly my preferred way of lodging anyway!). In the end, I'm reserving a room for us on my own, but if they happen to have an odd number of students visiting they offered to give us the room with no other occupant.


Too bad- they aren't covering any of your hotel or driving costs? I decided to use TakeruK's approch (by the way, thanks TakeruK!) and ask if they had a set amount that they could give me for a hotel for both of us. Still waiting to hear back.

TakeruK
Posts: 817
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby TakeruK » Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:16 am

Glad it was helpful, hope it works out.

Low--if the odd person thing doesn't work out, I would at least ask for them to cover a portion of your hotel costs, something like the equivalent of how much they would have spent on you if you were sharing a room with someone after all.

By the way, at another school I visited (this one was without my spouse, for scheduling reasons), they were going to put us in 2 to a room but since I had a friend in the exact same program I was applying to, I asked to stay with my friend (and thus reduce their hotel expenses) in exchange for an extra coverage in airfare (their original limit was too low for a flight from Canada!). They agreed to an extra $100, which was just the amount I needed!

sorairo
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2014 1:45 am

Re: Does anyone ever bring a guest to a visit day/weekend?

Postby sorairo » Sat Feb 15, 2014 2:17 am

I'm visiting Columbia in a couple of weeks and travelling with a friend, so I told the school we'd find our own accommodations. They ended up booking a hotel room for both of us instead of paying for my flights (two nights in Manhattan vs. ~$250, plus I'm Canadian so reimbursement is complicated anyway). I think they make a big effort to be flexible with these things. Good luck with your situation!




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