Contacting Professors?

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Contacting Professors?

Post by tomar » Wed Dec 05, 2007 7:07 pm

Is it a good idea to contact a professor you'd like to work with and tell them about your background, and that you are applying? Would that help your chances, or be viewed as an attempt to "Cheat the System"?


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Re: Hell yes!

Post by peder » Wed Dec 05, 2007 8:35 pm

It can never hurt to contact a professor before you application is submitted (heck, even after submission but before decisions are made). There's plenty of questions that are actually good to ask to professors:

1. What kind of research will you be conducting in the near future?
2. Will you have spaces opening up in your laboratory in the next academic term?
3. Do you think any of my prior experience be particular useful towards that research?
4. Any classes you suggest that I take in my last semester if I were to join your group?

Many universities actually encourage you to contact professors so they have a better feel for you. If the professor likes you enough, he may even go to bat for you in the admissions committee.

I know one university does not encourage that students contact professors (MIT). I think this came as a result of international students mass-calling EVERY professor in the respective department saying that they were interested with working with them as to increase their chances of getting in. But if you're genuinely interested in the research such and such professor is doing, definitely let them know!

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Post by will » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:42 am

Something else to do is to ask your advisors/professors/recommendation writers if they know personally any of the faculty at the schools you're applying to. Just like a letter of recommendation from yourself isn't worth much, a personal email to a stranger might get ignored, but a contact from a colleague is likely to get some interest.

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Post by twistor » Thu Dec 06, 2007 12:57 pm

I tried this one once. I emailed a theorist at Univeristy of Chicago and told him I was interested in his work and might be interested in working with him as a graduate student. I also asked some general questions about the field and its outlook in the near future.

He politely responded by telling me to apply if thats what I wanted to do. He also said he was very busy and didn't have time to reply to any more emails. So much for that.

So my advice would be not to contact professors unless you've been previously acquainted. Otherwise I'm pretty sure they can see through this scheme.

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Post by quizivex » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:01 pm

Dear Dr. XYZ,

I am a student at XYZ university highly interested in condensed matter physics. I plan to dedicate the rest of my life to the marvels of BECs. Where do you think the field will be heading in the next 5-10 years? I have nothing but high hopes for this fascinating area of science. I am thus dreaming of becoming your graduate student next year, and would appreciate any advice you could give me on succeeding in the admissions process.


P.S. - In short, I'm trying to use you for brownie points to get me into this damn school. I couldn't care less about you or your work. I sent this to you since by that strange hat-like thing you wear in your picture, I think the rest of the department must consider you a god. If you use your influence to get me in, I just might take your hideous daughter to the prom next year as long as you remove her awful picture and life story from your departmental webpage.

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Post by cancelled20080417 » Thu Dec 06, 2007 3:55 pm

hahaahhaha :lol:

i am gonna try this one to the place where I am not sending my application and I will post the reply on this forum.
This is gonna be a lot of fun!!
Enjoy, and wait for reply!!

But the problem is Prof's daughter is NOT hideous, she is smokin hot! :lol:
Any advice on how to change the Ps part of the email! really appreciate it!

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