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Does an on-campus visit mean I have to decide earlier?

OllypopOllypop 14 replies1 threads Junior Member
edited January 18 in Graduate School
Hello,
My older daughter is graduating this coming May (2020) and applied to about 7 graduate schools for next Fall. She is applying to PhD programs in Ecology/Environmental science in case that matters. Anyhow, it has been almost 30 years since I went through this process (yikes) and I have a couple questions for those who have more recent knowledge. One of the 7 schools has already reached out to her and invited her (end of January) to a departmental visitation (meet faculty, students, etc). This is a little earlier than we were expecting and I wonder if they offer her a spot does she still have till May to decide? She likes this school and it is in the top 3 of the ones she applied, but she would want to wait (if possible) for the other responses which may not happen until March (guessing). Also, before she applied she reached out to several faculty at each school to ask if they were taking new students/had funding. Does this mean one of those faculty would have her go to their lab or she would rotate and then decide? Has anyone gone through this recently? How does this work?
Thanks!
edited January 18
8 replies
Post edited by juillet on
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Replies to: Does an on-campus visit mean I have to decide earlier?

  • bluebayoubluebayou 27088 replies176 threads Senior Member
    Every Uni and every Department within the same Uni is different, but many do have on-campus intereviews in January and Feb. Others wait until March.

    Yes, if offered, she can take time to decide.

    Re: PI/lab. Again, every Uni/Dept is different. Some interview you for a specific PI and specific lab. Others don't decide until end of first year.

    Check out Grad Cafe.

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  • OllypopOllypop 14 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for the response. I am happy to hear she would have time to decide, in case she gets offers from more than one school (one can hope). All the PIs she talked to before applying indicated they had room and $ for student and thus she listed them on her applications. For some of the schools she had a few PIs of interest... so not sure if she gets in, will she know which PI wanted her or how that works. I guess like you said it depends on the school, etc. It is so different from when I did this years ago and while I can offer some advise... much of it is out dated!
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  • OllypopOllypop 14 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Where is Grad cafe?
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 27088 replies176 threads Senior Member
  • OllypopOllypop 14 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Thank you! This is a great resource. I will share it with my daughter.
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  • juilletjuillet 12724 replies162 threads Super Moderator
    The Council of Graduate Schools' agreement 1) applies to offers of financial support only, not admission, and 2) is not binding, nor do all programs belong to it. In practice, the vast majority of graduate programs send their offers of admission and financial support together and give students until April to decide (the CGS decision deadline is April 15, not in May).

    I wouldn't worry about departmental visits moving this up - it's really common for schools to hold visit or interview weekends in January or February. Sometimes, they are interview weekends, which are used by the program for them to make admissions decisions. Sometimes, they are visitation weekends, which are primarily for the students to get to see the program.

    I'd guess that given how early it is, it's probably an interview weekend. Either way, they are unlikely to offer her admission on the spot. Instead, she'd probably get an offer in March like any other school.

    These are things your daughter can ask, though. She can send an email to the departmental administrator/secretary saying that she's excited to visit, that this is one of her top choice programs, and she'd like to know when the usual decision deadline is for doctoral student applicants and whether or not this weekend includes interviews with professors and students.

    She can also ask the rotation question directly to the department. Really, the department expects promising students to ask these kinds of questions. In fact, this is the perfect kind of question to ask at the interview/visit weekend. It works differently at every school, so we can really only speculate.
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  • OllypopOllypop 14 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for the response! She is actually on a plane today to go to the University. It is touted as a visitation weekend, but one of the professors told her he has invited my daughter and another girl as they are hoping to fill two spots in his lab. Sounds like they are interested in her. The agenda has her speaking one on one with 4 faculty and then later with students. She has dinner with faculty one night and students another. She will be there till Saturday afternoon. She is meeting with 3 faculty she has interest in working with and one she didn't have on her radar. She applied to 7 schools, but so far this is the only one which has reached out. The other schools online all say under review... maybe she isn't their first choice and they wait to see how the 1st choice interviews pan out. Fingers crossed that it is a fit!
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  • juilletjuillet 12724 replies162 threads Super Moderator
    This sounds like an interview weekend. When I was in graduate school, our program's interview weekend was structured almost identically.

    Usually, by that stage, we didn't necessarily have "first choice," "second choice," etc. These were the simply the students who, as a group, had risen to the top. I would say we usually brought twice the number of students we admitted (so if our lab had two spots, we would bring four candidates).

    We wanted to bring them to campus to see how they fit in our department and our labs. It is, after all, essentially a five-year job (or more). Every department is different, but I'd guess that your daughter's on roughly equal footing with most everyone else they invited.
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