Your graduate school prep checklist includes lots of important things: your application and everything that comes with that territory, funding options, making sure your CV/resume is perfect, tying up loose ends with family back home. All of these are crucial, but one thing that you should be sure to do is visit some campuses! It’s so easy to completely disregard this piece of the GSP (graduate school prep) simply because you’re schedule is packed as you’re finishing up the current programs you’re in, attending and presenting at conferences, and of course, traveling cost money. Despite these things happening all at once, it is in your best interest to visit the campuses of potential programs because a visit could definitely impact your decision to attend or go elsewhere.
Visiting your potential graduate home is a important question to ask yourself at this time. I personally think that visiting your campus is extremely important. By going and seeing the campus with your own eyes, you can get a firsthand look at what the campus looks and feels like. It also gives you the opportunity to investigate potential housing, transportation options, and accessibility issues (specifically if you have a physical disability). Another benefit to visiting a campus is to see your department of interest in action. You can gain a lens into student life in the program, student connections to faculty, and departmental politics (just a small peak though…mainly how office space is distributed).
Campus visits can be very beneficial; however, they can be quite expensive. If funds are tight and you are not able to travel, here are some options that you have.
1. Take an on-line tour at the university’s website.
2. Ask your department if you can Skype with current students or faculty members.
3. See if your department of interest has a list of students who are looking for potential roommate (if you are looking for housing)
4. Connect with the professional and graduate student association(s) on your campus. At IU, the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) has been very helpful during my time here.
I hope that these suggestions help! Have a great day!