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Dr.Watson

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Second look weekends for MSTPs are coming up soon! I know that this post is sort of a variation on the how to decide thread (which doesn't need to be rehashed, thanks for the advice!), but any recommendations for how to make the most of these return visits would be much appreciated.

Beyond the questions to ask or information you wish you found out at second look in retrospect, I'd love advice of the pre-move-in nature. I'm assuming most people, like me, will be attending only a couple of second looks at schools where there's a strong possibility they will be moving to in six weeks to three months post-visit for their summer rotation. Please share advice on interviewing with/choosing your potential summer PI for your first rotation, arranging housing for the first year (buy/rent?; plan another pre-move-in visit to finalize arrangments?), and any other things to take care of before the big move that can/should be considered/accomplished at second look!

Thanks in advance.
 

gbwillner

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Second look weekends for MSTPs are coming up soon! I know that this post is sort of a variation on the how to decide thread (which doesn't need to be rehashed, thanks for the advice!), but any recommendations for how to make the most of these return visits would be much appreciated.

Beyond the questions to ask or information you wish you found out at second look in retrospect, I'd love advice of the pre-move-in nature. I'm assuming most people, like me, will be attending only a couple of second looks at schools where there's a strong possibility they will be moving to in six weeks to three months post-visit for their summer rotation. Please share advice on interviewing with/choosing your potential summer PI for your first rotation, arranging housing for the first year (buy/rent?; plan another pre-move-in visit to finalize arrangments?), and any other things to take care of before the big move that can/should be considered/accomplished at second look!

Thanks in advance.

My advice:
This is the best time to let your "gut" do its work. If after visiting both programs for the second time you "feel" more comfortable at one school than the other... well, you know.

For the PI thing... I would schedule no more than 6-7 interviews with potential advisors. Make sure you read up on the most current publications from each PI. I have to say that the actual research you will do in each lab should be of low priority when choosing a lab. Much more important is how comfortable you are with the PI's mentoring style and how well you get along with co-workers. Just pick 6-7 people with a good reputation in your field of interest. When setting up your first rotation you don't necessarily want your first choice. You'll probably need to "warm up". If you are also doing coursework, then you REALLY want to blow off your first rotation.

As far as housing is concerned, I recommend you NOT buy anything right away if you are new to the city. Rent for a year, figure out what the good parts of town are, then buy. When I moved to my current city 7 years ago, I rented for a year. It was a GREAT idea. I bought a townhouse in a good part of town, and all those people who bought up-front bought their place near the medical center, which is really ghetto. Now they wish they would have bought elsewhere.
 
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Hard24Get

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My advice:

For the PI thing... I would schedule no more than 6-7 interviews with potential advisors. Make sure you read up on the most current publications from each PI. I have to say that the actual research you will do in each lab should be of low priority when choosing a lab. Much more important is how comfortable you are with the PI's mentoring style and how well you get along with co-workers. Just pick 6-7 people with a good reputation in your field of interest. When setting up your first rotation you don't necessarily want your first choice. You'll probably need to "warm up". If you are also doing coursework, then you REALLY want to blow off your first rotation.

eh? :confused: Most MD-PhD programs don't have you start the bulk of your lab rotations until after 2 yrs of med school, so meeting with 6-7 of them is kind of a waste of time IMHO, as your interests, their lab, and availability will likely have changed by then. I say meet with maybe 2 after researching and emailing 6 to get a better feel for the research environments and spend the rest of the time gettng to know your potential classmates and the city where you might stay for 7-8 years. The summer rotation, if done, is usually just a throw-away, anyway, as was mentioned.

I agree that your gut should do the work, and that you should rent the first year. Arrange to stay an extra day since you are out of town because if you go to a preview and just KNOW that's where you want to go (ie, willing to cancel the rest and hand in a deposit), you can grab an apartment while there like I did.
 

gbwillner

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eh? :confused: Most MD-PhD programs don't have you start the bulk of your lab rotations until after 2 yrs of med school, so meeting with 6-7 of them is kind of a waste of time IMHO, as your interests, their lab, and availability will likely have changed by then.

Some programs reserve a whole day (or half-day) of the prospective candidate weekend to meet with faculty members. You can meet with anyone you want, and sometimes you list 13 possible interviews and are granted all 13. My point was to limit this to a reasonable number- MAX 6/7. You will otherwise burn out and have to fight your eyes from rolling back into your head during interviews.
 

Dr.Watson

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eh? :confused: Most MD-PhD programs don't have you start the bulk of your lab rotations until after 2 yrs of med school, so meeting with 6-7 of them is kind of a waste of time IMHO, as your interests, their lab, and availability will likely have changed by then.

I guess it depends on the program. The programs I've narrowed it down to have you complete all your rotations and choose your thesis lab before you finish the second year of med school. You hit the ground running with quals in year 3 and usually have little/no coursework left by then - just the dissertation to complete. The schools have asked for and are arranging meetings with potential mentors during these Second Looks. So that's where I'm coming from . . .

Thanks for the advice. Keep it coming!
 

Vader

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Second look weekends for MSTPs are coming up soon! I know that this post is sort of a variation on the how to decide thread (which doesn't need to be rehashed, thanks for the advice!), but any recommendations for how to make the most of these return visits would be much appreciated.

Beyond the questions to ask or information you wish you found out at second look in retrospect, I'd love advice of the pre-move-in nature. I'm assuming most people, like me, will be attending only a couple of second looks at schools where there's a strong possibility they will be moving to in six weeks to three months post-visit for their summer rotation. Please share advice on interviewing with/choosing your potential summer PI for your first rotation, arranging housing for the first year (buy/rent?; plan another pre-move-in visit to finalize arrangments?), and any other things to take care of before the big move that can/should be considered/accomplished at second look!

Thanks in advance.

First, congratulations on making it to this point!

I wouldn't worry too much about finding housing at this point--you could certainly just explore the available options to get an idea of where you might like to live. Often, just talking to current students is helpful in this regard. On the other hand, if you have already pretty much decided on a particular program, then you might want to pursue the details of finding a place to get the ball rolling.

I'd also recommend interviewing with no more than 6-7 faculty of interest. When I applied, I made a list and was able to quickly whittle it down to a few. Ask about available projects in the lab. Let them know when you are planning on moving into town and starting a lab rotation. Ask about previous MSTP students in their lab and if they would be willing to have a student who is planning to take 3-4 years for the PhD. It is better to find these things out early.

I agree with the other posters, but I wouldn't totally blow off the first lab rotation. You never know if it will actually end up being the lab you join. Although I ended up joining the 2nd lab I rotated in, but I worked hard during my first rotation, which yielded my first grad school publication.

Good luck and hope you enjoy revisits!
 

greg12345

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Rent for the first year, you get to know the area better and can make a more informed decision when it comes time to buy.

As far as picking a lab for a summer rotation, identify a group of people who do work you find interesting, then run the list by current MSTP students in grad school if possible...the current grad students will steer you away from the people who look good on paper but have toxic environments, or might be able to really endorse a couple people on your list for being great PIs. Then take the pared down list of about 5-10 people and set up informal meeting times on your 2nd look to get a feel for them and their labs. I did a rotation before I started the MSTP and I liked it b/c it let me get settled into my new city before I had to start 1st year (which is crazy).
 
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