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What questions should I ask at grad school visit?
April 21, 2010 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Going to New York next week to check out the grad school program I've been accepted to. What should I look for/what questions should I ask/etc?

Got into the Media, Culture & Communications Masters program in the Steinhardt school at NYU. It's my top choice. Weirdly enough haven't received any financial info from the school yet but as it is a private school and a humanities field, I am not hopeful.

I've made a request to sit in on some classes, also will be meeting with the department advisor. I requested a meeting with the financial aid person for the department too, not sure if that will happen. I'll hopefully be sitting in on some classes for the two days I'm there and have also requested the chance to talk with some current students who are ideally have the same interests as me.

What kind of questions should I be asking these people? When it comes to sitting in on the classes, what should I look for?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth to Education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Chronicle of Higher Ed posted an article with a great (though challenging) list of questions just the other day, perfect for your situation. See here.
posted by amelioration at 4:28 PM on April 21, 2010


General grad student questions:
Ask about health insurance and teaching load.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:32 PM on April 21, 2010


If by teaching load you mean RA/TA positions, I was told that, unfortunately, those only go to Doc candidates...
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 4:47 PM on April 21, 2010


Scholarships and grants and summer internships and fellowships and if it's a part time program JOB RECS!
posted by Juicy Avenger at 5:21 PM on April 21, 2010


"Are you going to pay for this?"

Don't go into gigantic debt for this.
posted by wooh at 5:25 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's what people have been asking me lately (I'm in a Master's program right now and have been fielding a lot of questions from admitted students):

- How accessible are the professors?
- How easy is it to deal with the bureaucracy?
- How tight-knit is the student body? Do people hang out with each other outside of class?
- What are the student groups like? Are there any that fit your interests? What kinds of things do they do?
- What's the work load like?
- What are people who graduated last year doing now?
- If you're interested in anything specific within your field, how much room is there for you to explore this in classes? What about outside of class?

The answers to these will likely lead to other questions that apply more specifically to your program and your interests.

As far as sitting in on classes goes, just feel out the vibe and see if it's one you could tolerate (or, better, would enjoy) for the length of your program. Different students prefer different teaching styles, so there's no one golden standard here. But generally: are students asking questions? How does the professor respond? Do people seem like they want to be there, or are they watching the clock the whole time?

Congratulations on getting in!
posted by rebekah at 5:36 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how useful sitting in on classes is. In theory it seems like a good idea, but in practice different classes within the same program can be very different! If there's one particular professor that you're interested in, though, see if you can sit in on their class.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:02 PM on April 21, 2010


Try to get a feel for whether the professors in the department like or hate each other. You don't want to get sucked into being a foot soldier in someone else's war.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:17 PM on April 21, 2010


"If there's one particular professor that you're interested in, though, see if you can sit in on their class."

This. You should be thinking more in terms of profs you want to work with (whose books you've liked) than in classes you'll be taking. If you wind up writing an MA thesis (I took an oral exam for mine, natch) this will be the most important thing you do in your program. It's also what will make or break your next step re: applying to PhD programs if you so desire.

Be assertive about this. If the prof blows you off, well, you're no worse off than before. They'll still be a dick, no skin off your back. If the prof is flattered or interested that you're familiar with her work, you're off to a good start.

And obviously, questions about tuition, health care, and housing. If they haven't offered you a package yet you're probably going to be expected to pay full-freight.

I know it's for another thread, but do you really want to go into debt for a "soft" MA? Because you could do a lot of traveling and/or interning for less than half of what you'll pay for an MA + living expenses in NYC for 2-3 years. And IMO even before the American recession kicked in internships and "real" experience were more and more highly valued than academic pedigrees these days.
posted by bardic at 11:06 PM on April 21, 2010


Ask about program placement rates, where and how do students get internships and jobs, is there a formal program for recruitment (jobs), what is the network, alumni, visiting lecturers quality and scope like...

based on bardic's point above re: cost of tuition vs future opportunities

you should be able find online B school articles on ROI of a graduate program
posted by infini at 11:58 PM on April 21, 2010


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