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I need some grad school advice and I will try to be brief. School A and School B have invited me to a grad visit weekend on the same dates. I booked the trip with School B before I knew there was a schedule conflict. At School A I have secured an RA position and a good relationship with the professor offering the position. School A is also considering me for other scholarships. School B hasn't given me an indication of whether I will be admitted or not. I have spoken to a professor there who reviewed my application, but they did not say much more than I am a good candidate and they look forward to meeting me. School A is ranked higher than B in my field, but B is a top 20 overall while A is top 50. I'm interested in the research areas of both schools.

I asked the professor at School A if I should cancel my plane trip (I didn't mention the other visit conflict) and go to their visit to maximize my chances at the other scholarships that they are considering me for. They told me to email the visit coordinator and explain my situation: that I can't make it, but I want the scholarships and will visit the campus on my own to meet with everyone.

Even with that advice, I'm conflicted. I'm not sure how important this decision is or what the best choice is. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ff524 Jan 21 '18 at 3:40
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The decision is probably not that important, so don't stress too much (or, which is basically the same, it's pretty much impossible to figure out what the effect it will have). Remember that this feels very high stakes for you but for the people on the other end, it's just another day at the office. I would focus on which trip will get you valuable information. In an ideal world, I would say go to school A for the weekend, and try to visit school B some other time, but I don't know how much of an issue the expense of the tickets is for you. It would be a different matter if school B had admitted you; you might want to push them a little harder on getting details (have they admitted anyone).

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If you have already scheduled and booked a visit to School B, and that school remains of interest to you even after you have been admitted with an RAship to School A, then I would go ahead and attend School B's visitation day.

With regard to School A: I would go ahead and tell them the whole truth: that you have already booked travel to School B for their visitation day, but you remain very interested in School A and would like to attend at some other time. In my mind (I am the graduate coordinator of my department, by the way) your reason for not attending their visitation day is the best possible one (both in terms of being understandable and reflecting well on you). If you are active in scheduling an alternate visit, they will read you as being interested in their program.

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