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Visiting Graduate Schools

  1. Jul 16, 2009 #1
    I will be applying to graduate schools in math this fall; is it a good idea to visit them during the application process?

    I have heard people give different answers to this question, and I would like some more opinions. I have in mind only the schools in the area, and I don't plan on going too far out of my way to visit. On the one hand, visiting, talking to faculty, and sitting in on classes would be interesting and would give me a better idea of which of the programs I would rather attend. On the other hand, some might argue that the time to do this is after I have been admitted. Visiting schools might also help with admissions: if I talk to and make a favorable impression on faculty and they end up on the admissions committee, it may set my application apart to some small extent. But I have also heard that some professors don't like students to visit before they have been admitted, and may even try to balance out having met with the student by judging the student's application more strictly. So, I am not sure what to do. What do you think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2009 #2


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    I know students who visited campuses before they entered university, and I think it a good idea to do so for graduate school. If one has already decided which grad school one is attending, then perhaps it is not a hot idea.

    If one is undecided about grad school, I'd recommend looking up the faculty and research on the relevant departments webpage - and then visit the campus of interest.

    Also, I would advise reading journal articles published by professors in the relevant areas of one's academic interest.
  4. Jul 16, 2009 #3
    If math is like physics/chemistry, then they'll pay for you to visit after you're admitted -- indeed, they'll wine and dine you, in a lovely reversal of the admissions process whereby they try to conving you of their worthiness. Visiting before applying only saves you the application fee, which may not be worth your time and travel dollars.

    I'd say that sitting in on classes won't tell you much, though (but I've always preached the same about the undergrad level, and no one listens to me). Grad school is about research, and coursework is secondary; your focus should be on meeting professors and current students.
  5. Jul 16, 2009 #4


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    I think it's a good idea to go and check them out. You're likely going to spend the next few years at that institution, so it's important to explore what it has to offer. It's been my experience that most faculty enjoy meeting with prospective students (provided they have time - so it's in your best interest to plan ahead). You can also talk to current students, figure out where the good/bad places to live are, what people do in their down time, whether or not you like the city, and otherwise evaluate whether or not the school will be a good fit for you.

    You can only get so much information from a web page.
  6. Jul 16, 2009 #5
    If they offer to pay for it I say go for it but don't feel pressured to go just because they sprung for a plane ticket. It's in their budget to do this.

    It can be a lot of fun and cool to have someone fly you out to visit.
  7. Jul 16, 2009 #6


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    I have not heard of a single school offering to pay for a prospective applicant to visit.

    Whats the point of visiting a school you havent been admitted to , if you are not admitted it is a waste of time. As others have suggested decide on schools to apply based on research and youre rough impression, wait to be admitted then dive into the details.
  8. Jul 16, 2009 #7
    Well you've just met one. 3 of the schools I wanted to attend invited me out for free wine and dine and one of them even bought me a plane ticket (which was from southern ontario canada to east coast canada so it probably wasn't cheap) and gave me a hotel voucher type thingy and daily allowance for the weekend.
  9. Jul 16, 2009 #8
    And I didn't end up going there...

    What would be the point in wining and dining you if you'd already accepted the offer?
  10. Jul 16, 2009 #9
    Some schools do pay for your travel expenses to come and visit them to meet the profs. I think they call it an interview, but it's really like you interviewing them, because it happens after you've been accepted. You should try to visit the schools you've been accepted to if they're in the running for where you're wanting to go. I would wait until you've been accepted.
  11. Jul 16, 2009 #10


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    I said no prospective applicant not prospective student. I even bolded prospective and applicant.

    Prospective applicant - A possible applicant to a program ie someone who has not yet applied

    Prospective student - A applicant who has been accepted by the program or is on the verge of being accepted that is being encouraged to join program.

    If you are a prospective student you are wine/dined like a pretty 19 year old girl.
  12. Jul 17, 2009 #11
    I think it's a good idea to visit any school before you attend. If you can't stand the place or the people, better to find out in advance if possible.

    Many years ago, I was flown out and given a tour of the grad school I ultimately attended. But more importantly, the prospective student visits were an opportunity for the department to give some of the current grad students free food... so even if you aren't sure, think of the poor, starving students and go visit anyway.
  13. Jul 17, 2009 #12


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    needs to be re-emphasized since so much prospective student advice is being given.
  14. Jul 17, 2009 #13
    Oh ya. Good point j93. Ya, I'd definetly wait to know that you're accepted before you visit and at that point they'll pay for it.
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