My favorite dog and pony show
It's recruiting season at Princeton.
Typically, prospective students don't actually visit our department until they're already admitted, meaning that the department pulls out all the stops to bring in plenty of great people. I was admitted in the first year that Princeton started having a full recruiting weekend, instead of ad hoc visits to the department, and it made a huge difference (we had 1.5 times more people start than what had been common for the past 5 or 6 years). Every department does recruiting differently and presumably tries to do something distinctive/memorable, although I feel like most students come for a certain faculty member or two, not the department as a whole. Back when I was a senior in college, I remember that I had dinner at Yale's Peabody Museum (with the dinosaurs), but I think I heard that that hasn't been done in recent years. True? Also, does anybody know whether MIT still does the lobster bake? I've been told that TSRI does interview its students before admitting them, so the process is a little different there. What are some of the other well-known/ unique/ offbeat recruiting traditions?
The really interesting stuff happens after recruiting, when students commit to the university and then have to join a group. This tends to fuel the gossip for the better part of the fall semester. Who's going where, how many people is so-and-so taking, and the like. The department doesn't allow anyone to officially join a group until the end of November, although many students will start working in their lab of choice the summer before. During the fall semester, all first years attend all the research talks given by the faculty in one of our lecture halls. Unfortunately, as my years here have progressed, I've started to notice that the department's been providing less and less food at these events (we got free lunch and baked goods, the next year it was just baked goods, the year after that nothing at all.) My understanding is that at some places, the research talks are more of an "open house" setup, where interested parties listen to the faculty member discuss what's going on in the group. I've seen some of David Liu's open house posters, for instance. I understand why the department asks everyone to attend every talk, since there have been several occasions where students have switched fields completely at the beginning of grad school, and it's important to know what's going on outside of your field, but I also think that in an open house situation, there's likely to be more lively discussion, because everyone who's attending wants to be there.
Labels: current events