We are more than mid-way through our fall semester, which also means that application season will be beginning soon for most programs. I remember the hunt for a graduate program feeling a bit daunting, especially as it aligned so neatly with the holidays and crappy weather. I specifically recall thinking to myself that it felt impossible to get a sense of the programs I was considering from just researching online. There is a lot of information on the internet, for sure, but I think what I was looking for was something a little less structured. I wanted to be able to talk to students in the program. I wanted to ask very specific questions that might sound slightly nuts if I was talking to admissions staff, but would probably make total sense to someone who was also hoping to be a teacher. I missed out on Columbia’s Preview Days while I was applying, but having attended one now that I’m in the program, I have to say that it is an event not to be missed if you really want the nitty gritty about both Columbia as a whole and the graduate experience.
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Preview Day is sort of similar to an Open House event, only it’s much more succinct. The day is really focused on the needs of someone who is applying, so there is time to ask questions of the admissions staff, along with time to dig deep into the details of financial aid. The best part of Preview Day though, in my opinion, is all the Q&A time between people interested in the program and the Graduate Student Ambassadors. We all blog on Marginalia, so you might have a sense of who we are and what we do, but the panel of Ambassadors at the Preview Day offers this great opportunity to talk directly to current graduate students about the Columbia experience. Topics range from our work schedules, our commutes, work/life balance, making connections with artists, cross program interaction, and living in Chicago, along with lots of details about applying and program specifics. In addition to the full grad panel, there are program breakout sessions where applicants can talk more directly to students from their program of interest (i.e. me and you drinking coffee and talking about field experiences in CPS, your application essay, the professors in the program, etc.).[flickr id=”8165773772″ thumbnail=”medium” overlay=”true” size=”original” group=”” align=”none”]
The best part about Preview Day is that you also get a sense of some of the other people who are potentially applying to the program. Columbia’s community is like no other; the students are passionate, engaged, enthusiastic, and extremely talented in their fields. I think the event helps build a sense of confidence in the application process, because you can very clearly see the potential laid out right in front of you. There are two Preview Days coming up this year (November 17th and December 9th). If you can’t make it, please always feel free to email me any questions you might have about the program or the application process, and I’ll do my best to help you out! Hope to see you at an event soon!