Earlier this week, prospective students visited IU as part of the “Getting You Into IU” recruitment program. It was a pleasure meeting these students and learning about their interests, their backgrounds, where they’re from, and even sharing with them some things about my experience as a doctoral student. These students took initiative and applied for a program that ultimately gave them a glimpse into graduate life at IU. They had individualized schedules, met with faculty in their departments of interest, and were able to see what Bloomington has to offer…all in less than 48 hours!
Even if it’s not an institutionalized program such as GU2IU, I encourage you to visit your campus of interest and connect with current students. Sometimes, those conversations and visits are all you need to affirm (or disprove) your idea that a particular institution is or is not for you. It’s so important to hear from those individuals who are where you ultimately want to be and it’s equally important to see the lay of the land.
When speaking with current students, ASK QUESTIONS! Students are going to be honest and transparent with you so just about everything is up for grabs; nothing is off limits. What’s the workload like? How do I find an assistantship? Where can I get my hair done? How is the nightlife? What’s the dating scene like? Where should I live? All of these (and so many more) are good questions that current students can enlighten you on.
During GU2IU, I exchanged contact information with prospective students and have even talked with some since they left a few days ago. Keep the connections going. Stay in contact, stay engaged. When this happens, you’re one step ahead in the process of building your community. So, when you arrive at your institution (IU, of course!), those students you met will be welcoming you with open arms.