How do you make the most of open houses?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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openballs
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Feb 18, 2020 2:15 pm

How do you make the most of open houses?

Post by openballs » Fri Feb 25, 2022 8:06 pm

I have some virtual and in-person open houses coming up soon, and I was wondering if anyone has any tips in getting the most information from them?

ijustwanttodomath
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2022 4:15 pm

Re: How do you make the most of open houses?

Post by ijustwanttodomath » Sat Feb 26, 2022 2:57 pm

I'm still waiting to go to the virtual open houses for the schools I got into, so I'm not the too educated on this yet, but I'm planning on having my list of questions for the faculty (and any grad students that will hopefully be present) ready to go before the event. I also did the same when interviewing or meeting with graduate coordinators and potential advisors.

olyoly
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2021 11:48 am

Re: How do you make the most of open houses?

Post by olyoly » Mon Feb 28, 2022 2:36 pm

ijustwanttodomath wrote:
Sat Feb 26, 2022 2:57 pm
I'm still waiting to go to the virtual open houses for the schools I got into, so I'm not the too educated on this yet, but I'm planning on having my list of questions for the faculty (and any grad students that will hopefully be present) ready to go before the event. I also did the same when interviewing or meeting with graduate coordinators and potential advisors.
I am preparing the same, as some of my admitted students events involve one-on-ones with POIs.

I am struggling with the following, though; how do you pose meaningful research-related questions to your POIs? I'd like to say that I have a deep enough understanding of their work to come up with meaningful questions, but that's just not the case. Any advice on asking these questions without sounding like a fool? Or is it acceptable to avoid the specifics related to a prof's work, and keep the conversation more behavioral/surface-level?

coolar
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2021 8:59 pm

Re: How do you make the most of open houses?

Post by coolar » Mon Feb 28, 2022 3:11 pm

olyoly wrote:
Mon Feb 28, 2022 2:36 pm
ijustwanttodomath wrote:
Sat Feb 26, 2022 2:57 pm
I'm still waiting to go to the virtual open houses for the schools I got into, so I'm not the too educated on this yet, but I'm planning on having my list of questions for the faculty (and any grad students that will hopefully be present) ready to go before the event. I also did the same when interviewing or meeting with graduate coordinators and potential advisors.
I am preparing the same, as some of my admitted students events involve one-on-ones with POIs.

I am struggling with the following, though; how do you pose meaningful research-related questions to your POIs? I'd like to say that I have a deep enough understanding of their work to come up with meaningful questions, but that's just not the case. Any advice on asking these questions without sounding like a fool? Or is it acceptable to avoid the specifics related to a prof's work, and keep the conversation more behavioral/surface-level?
I think it is perfectly acceptable to keep it surface-level. I have not taken any graduate courses (my undergrad uni does not have any), and all of my conversations with professors have been good. As long as you demonstrate that you are passionate about their research, you should be fine. If a professor dislikes you because you don't understand everything they say, you probably wouldn't have a great time working with them, anyway.

olyoly
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2021 11:48 am

Re: How do you make the most of open houses?

Post by olyoly » Mon Feb 28, 2022 3:21 pm

Thank you! That relieves some anxiety :)

ijustwanttodomath
Posts: 42
Joined: Fri Feb 11, 2022 4:15 pm

Re: How do you make the most of open houses?

Post by ijustwanttodomath » Mon Feb 28, 2022 4:43 pm

coolar wrote:
Mon Feb 28, 2022 3:11 pm
olyoly wrote:
Mon Feb 28, 2022 2:36 pm
ijustwanttodomath wrote:
Sat Feb 26, 2022 2:57 pm
I'm still waiting to go to the virtual open houses for the schools I got into, so I'm not the too educated on this yet, but I'm planning on having my list of questions for the faculty (and any grad students that will hopefully be present) ready to go before the event. I also did the same when interviewing or meeting with graduate coordinators and potential advisors.
I am preparing the same, as some of my admitted students events involve one-on-ones with POIs.

I am struggling with the following, though; how do you pose meaningful research-related questions to your POIs? I'd like to say that I have a deep enough understanding of their work to come up with meaningful questions, but that's just not the case. Any advice on asking these questions without sounding like a fool? Or is it acceptable to avoid the specifics related to a prof's work, and keep the conversation more behavioral/surface-level?
I think it is perfectly acceptable to keep it surface-level. I have not taken any graduate courses (my undergrad uni does not have any), and all of my conversations with professors have been good. As long as you demonstrate that you are passionate about their research, you should be fine. If a professor dislikes you because you don't understand everything they say, you probably wouldn't have a great time working with them, anyway.
I agree with this. Realistically most faculty (or at least the ones worth working with) realize only a handful of people in the world will truly have a comprehensive knowledge of their research and that will likely only be their graduate students and other faculty who specialize in that subfield. Every conversation I've had so far has been at the surface level, although when asked about my previous research experiences (I already have an M.S. in math), I happily go a bit deeper depending on the context. Good researchers learn how to communicate their work to a variety of audiences, including undergraduates; if they aren't able to converse with you about their work without using a ton of jargon or condescending language, then that would be a red flag in my opinion.

A really great piece of advice I got when I was interviewing for full-time jobs is that these kinds of events let faculty get to know you, but also gives you an opportunity for you to get to know them. Maybe you'll find out that the faculty you wanted to work with are actually totally elitist jerks and decide you want to work with someone else or even accept an offer at a different campus, or maybe you'll get along really well with them and decide that the university is a good fit for you. In my experiences conversing with potential advisors, I would explain my understanding of what they do and ask if that is a correct interpretation (if not, please correct me!) and ask if they could elaborate on the specifics and discuss what methods they use. The conversation will usually flow from there.



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