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Career Development Center University of Illinois Springfield

Visiting Schools

When you decide to visit a graduate school in which you are interested, you should plan for a visit in three instances: before applying; after applying, but before deciding, and after acceptance. Here are some points to consider while visiting a graduate school.

Before Applying

  • There are two major reasons to visit at this time: (1) to collect information about the community & (2) to cast a favorable impression upon faculty and advisors.
  • You need to know that it is best to call a graduate advisor or faculty recruiter to schedule an appointment, because doing so will be more worthwhile.
     – You should also speak with at least one faculty member that teaches in the department to which you are applying.
  • The primary purpose of visiting at this time is to speak with everyone that is willing to speak with you.

During Visit

  • Speak to all available faculty to see if they are open to talking with students.
  • Ask the faculty questions that you have prepared before you came to visit.
  • Ask questions that:
    • will give you information that was not included in the literature
    • prove you are deliberating about and are truly interested in the program
    • show faculty that you are excited and committed to your studies
    • will provide yourself the opportunity to show those you meet that you are exceptional and possibly win support when applications are reviewed
  • Be certain to speak with your graduate advisor, especially about the chances of receiving financial aid because doing so will give you a better sense of it.
  • Speaking with other graduate students might give you a greater perspective of the school than just speaking with faculty.
  • You should investigate the school to have a better understanding of it and to decide if you want to earn your degree there
  • However, you should not limit your investigation to the campus; explore the local community

After Applying, but Before Deciding

  • Though the purpose of visiting at this time is similar to visiting before applying, the trip could be a waste of time if the application is turned down or there is scant or no financial aid.
  • A visit might be beneficial and help you decide on the school you want to attend before you receive letters of acceptance.
    After Acceptance
  • Normally, you would visit a school after being accepted because you have not yet decided on enrolling at the school.
  • To visit after being accepted is normally a different experience than visiting beforehand, and you will probably be treated differently as a probable and desired student.

Faculty

  • You should know under which faculty you want to study if you do go to that school.
  • You should also call before going and ask the graduate advisor to arrange appointments to meet with the faculty.
  • When you speak to the faculty, ask questions that will help contrast the school with others under consideration.

Visiting Unannounced

  • You can visit a school without prior notification.
    • This might give you a more realistic perspective of the school, and you can see if you are treated differently than if you had arranged for a visit.

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