It's that time of year when graduate schools are sending out notifications to applicants. Whether by phone, e-mail or via the student portal, you may be lucky enough to get an interview for the school of your dreams. Before you start packing your bags, read on to learn some tips to manage the stress graduate school interviews.
Plan Your Trip
Typically, schools want you to come on campus for the interview. They are selling their program and school to you just as much as you are selling yourself to them. An on campus interview requires some planning, though. Busy students have classes, work and family obligations to balance. Check your schedule carefully and be sure and let your professors and your manager at work know that you are heading to an interview and need some time off. Good communication is the key to avoiding any issues.
Often you do not have a lot of time to schedule travel arrangements. Try to be flexible with flights and accommodations. Some schools will offer to put you up with a current student to help you save on lodging. They will also offer to have a student pick you up at the airport if needed. Be sure and let them know if you need assistance. The sooner you can request these types of perks, the better as they go fast.
Check your wardrobe to be sure you have a solid color suit and comfortable, professional shoes. Your visit may include a walking tour so you want to be sure that your feet are happy. It is also nice to have a folio to keep you agenda and curriculum vitae organized. Some students also bring a work tote or a messenger bag instead of a backpack.
Tour the City
Even though you likely have a full schedule of interviews, poster sessions and meet and greets, be sure and allow some time to tour the city where the school is located. Not only does it give you glimpse of the town, it is a great way to take your mind off the interview and manage stress. Cities like Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati and Tempe are great graduate school towns that also offer some pretty amazing things to do and see. You can use Viator to help you save time by arranging a tour for you that meets your needs and special interests.
Walk Around Town
Not only is walking a great way to see campus and a new city, it is also a wonderful way to relieve stress. Be sure to take some time to walk around campus and check out the classrooms, commons, quad and student union. If you have time, explore the neighborhood surrounding the campus to get a feel for the lifestyle. Is it urban, rural or suburban? Will you need a car or is public transportation adequate? Just getting outside and breathing the fresh air and moving around will help you manage stress and take you mind off your interview.
All things considered, a trip to visit a graduate school for an interview is an exciting time. With some preparation, you can avoid stress and have a little fun while you are at it. Planning ahead and allowing time for exploration and walking the town are great ways to accomplish what you came to do.