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Attentive Obsessive combers of the archives here will recall that, just about a year ago, I discussed the virtues of what we call Visiting Days, our annual recruitment event. We bring the top 7 or so candidates to campus, pay for their travel, host them with current students, and wine and dine them for two days. It's a great way both for us to get to know them and for them to get to know us.

In the idealized world of "brains on sticks," we all choose graduate programs according to perfectly rational criteria, select our committees based purely on their explicit expertise in our exam areas and dissertation subjects, blah blah blah. In the real world, though, we work with people based on intuition, fit, compatibility, and all sorts of criteria that are, for the most part, immeasurable. It's certainly important to ask the rational questions about a given program, but I think we underplay the degree to which we make decisions by simply asking: can I imagine myself being successful here? can I see myself working well with this person? would I enjoy taking courses with these students?

In other words, I think it's important to give our prospective students as much access to the program as possible, and not just in the form of promotional materials. Likewise, it helps us to decide when we have a chance to actually talk with a student about his or her interest in X or Y, and not just attempt to intuit their abilities and interests from a generic 2-page statement of goals. As I said last year, this is an exceptionally ethical practice, and I think that it pays dividends for us in the quality of our students and for the students as well, both those who join us and those who don't. Even when we lose someone to another institution, I feel good about the fact that we've given them as much information as we could, and helped them to make the best decision possible.

As important as events like these are for us, they're also pretty taxing. Over the past 5 months, I've hosted a symposium of visiting speakers, co-chaired a search committee, coordinated 4 campus visits, and finally, as of a couple of hours ago, completed Visiting Days. None of this did I do alone; in fact, I'm deeply grateful for every single airport run, meal companion, feedback email, and general contribution that the people in our program provided throughout these events.

But oh. my. am I exhausted, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Saturday has just begun, but I plan to spend as much of it asleep as I possibly can. And then I can start in on all the to-do's that I've postponed during my event planning.

That is all.

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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on March 4, 2006 12:08 AM.

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