Campus visits are important!

Now that everything is submitted, it is now time to wait for responses. It is important to keep in mind that rejection letters are inevitable. Don’t let them get you down. There are many options out there, and it is not the end of the world.

However, you should still be proactive in the meantime while you are waiting. Do you yet know your list of preferred schools and why you want to attend them? Have you visited them? Visiting an institution and getting the “feel” to what it is like to be there will help you make a decision and not regret it later. Each institution is different. The campus life, environment, and structure can be a huge impact on how you will enjoy spending years there. Do you like big cities? Small college towns? A scenic campus to walk through? Visit, visit, visit! Visit IU by emailing us at emissary@indiana.edu! I hope to meet you at IU! GO HOOSIERS!

Visiting the IU Campus

I always wanted to attend a college with grass, trees, and brick buildings as an undergraduate student. When researching graduate schools and after visiting a few VERY urban campuses, I realized that this was an important criterion for me. I like the grassy, pillows and blankets, trees, and frisbie catching experience that green space offers on college campuses. Yes, this may sound very traditional, but that was a quality about the IU campus that appealed to needs that I did not know that I had. As a graduate student, the traditional feel of IU has encouraged several things: relaxed environment to work in, less traffic and challenge of the fast life, as well as interacting with undergraduates while walking to class. This has enriched my experience as a graduate student.

You should visit the IU campus because it does offer many traditional aspects to college life. As previously mentioned, green space is very important to this institution. The campus highlights this by providing programming, fairs, and other activities to engage with other students. And, there is usually free food in Dunn Meadow when it is warm and sunny on a regular basis! :)

Visiting campus as a graduate student is ideal. You may be here for longer than four years. You might have a family that would be using campus facilities. It might impact how you fit into your department or even with other graduate students. Whatever are your specific needs, I strongly encourage you to visit to evaluate if this is the place for you.

I was sold on my first visit and have never regretted it since!

Graduate Recruitment Day…Good for Current Students too!

As a current student, I always look forward to graduate student recruitment day. My department gives me a chance to partake in some of the events. Not only do I get to hear about the awesome projects of a lot of up and coming, bright, future grad students, I get to also practice my five minute spill of my work (helps me sharpen my “big picture” skills). In addition to these wonderful benefits, I get FREE food (and as a grad student, this is a big plus!!!!)

For lunch we went to the Tudor room at the IMU (here’s a link, they have such good food!!! http://www.imu.indiana.edu/dining/tudorroom.shtml). This evening a potluck has been organized by the faculty in my specific program, and I will get to enjoy more free food, a glass of wine, and get to hang with people in my program and the prospective students.

If you are doing interviews right now, don’t worry, soon you will be on the other end, and you will be able to enjoy this process without the anxiety :)

When to Visit a Program!

Applying to graduate programs is stressful enough, but the decision to visit a program or not definitely takes the cake!  I applied to three graduate programs, two of which I visited and one I did not. The school I did not visit was across the country and since I was already flying to the two other programs, I decided not to visit. However, I took advantage of grad fairs near my hometown and spoke with a number of programs that were there, including the school in California.  I developed relationships at the fair and maintained them throughout the application process and that helped me decided whether or not to visit the program. Here are a few tips that may make the decision to visit schools easier:

  1. Figure out your budget! If you are visiting a number of institutions where you have to fly or get a hotel, you definitely want to figure out how much money you are willing to spend.
  2. How important is the institution to you? I knew that IU was my top choice graduate program, so for me, it was imperative that I meet the faculty and the current students to make sure the school was a good fit for me.
  3. Can you see yourself living at the institution? Since I had never been to Indiana or any of the other school locations, I needed to make sure Bloomington was a place I could live for the next couple of years. Coming from a metropolitan area, I knew living in Bloomington would be an adjustment, but I needed to figure out how much of an adjustment it would be for me.  Visiting the school was the only way I would know if I could live in Bloomington.

These tips helped me make the decision to visit an institution easier. I hope they help you!

 

Virtual Visits! – If you can’t go in person…

Under ideal circumstances, everyone would be able to visit all the graduate schools they are applying for and spend several days getting to know the school, the people, and the town. But if you can’t go, don’t despair! Here are a few ideas for getting to know the school better from afar.

  • Ask professors if they might be willing to schedule a Skype call. Skype may not be as ideal as meeting in person, but it’s still more personal than an email. It will allow you a chance to size up potential advisors (and vice versa). Of course, you should probably spend some time preparing for your virtual call, the same as you would for an in-person interview.
  • Ask for contact info for graduate students who might be willing to chat online or on the phone. The IU emissaries this year are using Adobe chat sessions to get in touch with prospective students and answer questions in an informal setting. Stay tuned!
  • Like Kuang suggested, spend some time browsing the school’s webpage, the town’s webpage, or the local newspaper online to get a feel for the campus and the surroundings. Check out events calendars (like this one)  to see what kind of activities are going on.
  • Check out virtual/video visits. IU Bloomington has some here.
  • Tune in to local radio. A lot of radio stations have webpages where you can listen live. Our school’s station, WIUX, is one way to get an impression of IU’s personality.

The more sources you go to, the better understanding you’ll have of your potential academic home-to-be!

Thoughts on Visiting a Graduate Program

Visiting the program you’ll be attending makes a great deal of sense for many reasons.  You’ll want to make sure that the department you’ll be working in–and the colleagues and professors you’ll be working with–are a good “fit” for you.  Additionally, it’s important to get a sense of the town or city you’ll be moving to–as you’ll be making it your home for the next several years.  Of course, for many students, a visit is just not possible–for many reasons, financial or otherwise.  In that case,  I think it’s especially critical to be in touch with members of the department–and to ask those essential questions before deciding to enroll.  As I have mentioned in some of my other posts, taking responsibility for your choices in graduate school is a key factor for timely progress towards your degree.  Regardless of whether or not you are able to visit your prospective program, make sure to ask lots of questions.  It’s in everyone’s best interest that you make the right call when choosing where to study.

Schedule A Campus Visit.

I highly recommend that you do visit your potential graduate school institution, it is a smart decision. Simple put, a visit can go a long way in your own personal ranking of a program.

When you schedule a visit: 1) be sure to take a tour around campus, 2) meet with faculty in your intended program, 3) come prepared to ask questions and seek out opportunities to meet with current graduate students, 4) keep in mind what the cost of living will likely be, and 5) do as much research ahead of time to give you a head start & also make time to have some fun on your trip.

 

 


 

 

 

 

To visit or not visit…that is the question

Hey friends it’s that time again. That’s right you guessed it. It is time for your FREE TIP OF THE DAY.

This week’s FTD is sponsored by our good friend Billy Shakespeare, who was so gracious as to provided us the wonderful existential quote from Hamlet that we’ve slightly modified and made way less morbid. So the time is coming (if not already here) for you to make a decision. You’ve applied and have been offered acceptance to several schools, and now you are making the decision as to whether to visit the school or not. How do you make the decision? Well I’m glad you asked.

The answer depends on several factors. The most important being financial, if you have the money (and time) I’d encourage you to visit as many schools as possible. There is nothing more helpful than to be on campus and to get the feel of the faculty, the city, and the students. But if you don’t have unlimited finances I encourage you to think strategically about where you can afford to go. Some institutions will offer “virtual visits,” take advantage of those visits and if you like what you see. Spend the cash and make the visit.

And this brings me to my FREE TIP OF THE DAY. Some universities have funds available to bring prospective students out for the weekend to visit. I’d encourage you to investigate both the program’s website as well as the university’s graduate school office. Don’t be afraid to call either. Most offices are looking to help you out. Take advantage of it.

 

Should I visit or not?

You got an invitation to visit one of those schools that you applied to. Before I go any further, I am assuming that you only applied to those schools that you are serious about attending! Well, if you can visit them all, then do so! You are about to make a decision that will directly impact your professional, as well as personal life for the next 5-7 years, thus, any effort you put into your decision is worth it. During your visit, make sure to talk to current graduate students to get the full picture, ask what equipment and resources are available to graduate students, check out potential housing options, as well as the community around campus. Finally, like Viridiana said “enjoy the visit”.

However, if you are like me and cannot take any time off to visit prospective schools. Then, I recommend that you email current grad students in order to get some feedback. Also, something that worked great for me was to track down someone (e.g. a friend of a friend) in my current institution that did their undergraduate studies at the institution I was invite to visit and get their input.

To Visit or not to Visit?

So, your grad school applications are in, and now it’s time to anxiously wait to see which schools will invite you to visit their campus. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether you should visit or not:
1) If it is the school of your dreams, of course, VISIT!
2) If it is not the school of your dreams, but it comes close, VISIT!
3) If you got invited to MANY schools, don’t feel pressured to go to all of them (especially if there are time/money constraints). Decide which ones you are REALLY interested in visiting (and it might end up being that you do visit all of them).
4) If you got invited to a FEW (2 or 3) schools, it might be worth it to visit all of them. Even if one of them is your dream school, you should give yourself at least another option to look at.
5) Did you get an early invitation and they want you to make a decision now?– Most likely you want to go ahead and say YES, especially if you are still waiting for others to contact you. Some schools/professors organize early visits so that they get to be the first to meet with you. If they contacted you before anyone else, they most likely really want you.

When you visit, make sure to pay attention to the feel of the department, the happiness of the graduate students, and the community that surrounds the university. Remember that you will be living and working in this place for at least 5 years.

And finally, and most importantly, enjoy the visit. It’s a new place you are visiting, new people you are meeting, and most likely you will be fed lots of free food. If there is one thing form the grad school application process that I would do again, it would be the campus visits :)