Graduate school visits, before applying

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Hey guys. I'll be applying to graduate schools for the term of Fall 2013. I'm really interested in actually visiting some of the schools I'm applying to and meeting some of the faculty, before I actually send in my application. Do graduate programs generally allow this? Are visitations before admittance welcome? And would it make any difference to your application?
 

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  • #2
Nabeshin
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This isn't the normal order of doing things, so I don't know how much time they would put into seeing you since you haven't even been accepted. You could always email whichever professor/s you're interested in to ask to find out for sure though.

Normally, you apply, are accepted, and then go visit with part or all of the travel expenses reimbursed by the school. So unless you have a really good reason for wanting to go before this, it seems much better to wait until you know you've been accepted.
 
  • #3
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Okay thanks. I was thinking of establishing contact with particular faculty beforehand to see if they were willing to talk to me, and then I would make a visit.
 
  • #4
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I did visit one school before I applied. I had been corresponding with the graduate director for the math department (I didn't have a traditional background and so I had been wondering if/how I could transition). The director mentioned that I was welcome to come take a look at the school if I was interested, so my mom and I drove down. They didn't pay any of our expenses, but they took us out to breakfast, introduced us to some of the students and professors, and showed us around the school. It was really nice.
 
  • #5
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The school might not have a campus visit program for people who haven't applied yet, but you can always make contact with the program coordinator or equivalent, or the professor for a class you're interested in. It might make a difference to your admission, if you are on an unconventional path and some of the usual boxes might not be checked but you can at least sound like you know what you're talking about (I was an elementary ed undergrad, then recently finished a MA in math ed, now about to start a pure math MS program; I met with the grad coordinator this past spring to talk about prereqs, and by the end of the conversation he told me to hurry up and apply and he'd hang onto a TA position for me). Conversely, if you're looking at exceptionally selective schools, probably everyone makes early contact and if you don't you're putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Don't get stuck on the idea of touring the campus. It's a college, it has buildings and trees and parking places and grassy things and maybe a statue or two. The architectural style is really the least important thing.
 
  • #6
Choppy
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Hey guys. I'll be applying to graduate schools for the term of Fall 2013. I'm really interested in actually visiting some of the schools I'm applying to and meeting some of the faculty, before I actually send in my application. Do graduate programs generally allow this? Are visitations before admittance welcome? And would it make any difference to your application?
Absolutely. This is both allowed and encouraged at the schools I've attended and instruct at. If you have the opportunity, you should make the effort to check out every school you're applying to.

Email the graduate advisor well in advance and let him or her know that you're interested in coming. Often they can arrange time for you to meet with current graduate students and professors who will be looking for students. Not all of them will be available on the day you show up, but some of them likely will be.

It can make a difference in your application status for several reasons. It demonstrates a genuine interest in the program. It helps you to identify the unique aspects of the school so you have something coherent to talk about in your personal statement. It helps you to decide if the school is the right fit for you. It also puts a face to the application. I know the admission committee at my school places a fair amount of weight on whether or not a supervisor is willing to take on a particular student and one of best ways to convice a professor that he or she wants you is to spend some time talking.
 

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