A student recently accepted to graduate programs in philosophy wrote to me inquiring about the "role of post-offer 'departmental visits' in the decision making process." S/he continues:
I, for one, was totally unaware that these visits had become a central part of the procedure; I had no idea that departments were spending money flying prospective students all over America! My experiences were very mixed, and I personally witnessed a number of other prospectives having similarly weird experiences. I'm still not confident that I have a handle on how to best 'use' these visits when making a decision, and I'm similarly unsure about whether I think they're altogether a good idea. (I think that there is a good chance that some departments are just much "better" at staging these visits than are other departments, and I doubt that an ability to stage a nice visit has much to do with the quality of the education a prospective is likely to receive!) Anyway, I wonder whether you might at some point include some commentary on these visits in the Report, or at least make mention of how central a part of the process they've become. It also might make for a good blog discussion at some point.
Comments are open; please avoid discussion of particular departments, and non-anonymous postings will be very strongly preferred. Post only once; comments may take several hours, sometimes a whole day, to appear.