Let the weekend of obligatory party attendance (and free food!) commence.
Thursday evening is the graduate student social, when the prospectives have a change to unwind before some early-morning interviews. This has become an unofficial part of Prospectives Weeding. Last year, I heard (over and over and over), one of the prospectives ignored repeated warnings of "alcohol will affect you more strongly here", got drunk, got sick, and was found naked on the bathroom floor of his host's home in the middle of the night. The graduate students involved begged their advisor not to admit him.
Friday afternoon is a boxed lunch, to give us the opportunity to meet with prospectives in their interview attire instead of fresh off the plane. More to the point, it's free food. I entertained prospectives in my own interview year by my haphazard attempts to identify the ingredients of the fruit cup (turns out those green squishy balls have their own name).
Friday evening used to be a dinner with the grads, followed by a general Area party as a faculty member's house afterwards. Last year, at the request of faculty wanting more time to spend with prospectives, it was changed to dinner with the faculty and the grads were invited to a Dessert Party instead. I think the addition of the dessert buffet was intended to entice the graduate students into attending (free food!).
Saturday is generally not free, but will include group activities like brunch and probably hiking (if the weather is nice - there was snow this morning). Generally speaking, an excuse for not doing research over the weekend.
Why say they're obligatory when there's all this free food enticement? Well, there is a general expectation that current grads will show up for these things since food is provided, although no one is going to be walking around with an attendance sheet. Most importantly, my advisor is interviewing 2 prospectives who would be interested in working with her. Unless I take a fatalistic perspective that my input counts for nothing, I need to evaluate these perspectives to see if there is anything outstanding or insane about them.
So I'll be spending the weekend being social, regardless of how much I would rather spend my time reviewing papers or analyzing data. Truly, it is a great sacrifice.