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- [March 2012] February (and January) Stats: Did you make it to the top ten posters? Check here
Re-engaging with a future advisor
Posted 21 March 2012 - 06:08 PM
I decided rather hastily that I wanted to go to grad school last fall (after two years in the tortuous corporate world) in the humanities. I applied to my first choice, and sent a "hey, look at me" e-mail to a professor I potentially wanted to work with, and he responded saying he'd be happy to answer any questions I have about the program, gave me his phone number, and encouraged me to apply, which I already had. Pretty much immediately after that, I fell into a depression like I tend to do, never asked him anything (though I openly stated my e-mail was to start a dialogue), and never even applied anywhere else, which I obviously immediately regretted doing.
Well, as bad as the wait was when you've put all of your eggs into one basket like I did, I got accepted (one of 15 out of 224 applicants), though without funding for right now (I'll know for sure in a month). I'm going, regardless, and now am visiting next month to find housing and get to know the department. I need to re-engage with the prof I exchanged one e-mail with last fall to see when he'll be around, but now I'm rather embarrassed that I didn't actually do what I said I'd do and ask him anything.
How do I go about doing this? Do I even mention that we spoke before? Do I somehow apologize, come up with a lousy excuse or something? How likely is it that he would have no memory of me whatsoever? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? I'm terribly awkward, socially, and don't know how to deal with these situations, but at the same time I hate making bad impressions and feel like I did here.
Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:25 PM
However, that said, it certainly isn't a deal-breaker. I've had professors that said they would get back to me and didn't. These things happen. If you make it into a mountain, it will become one. I would apologize since he probably remembers whether he says anything or not. Apologize about failing to keep in touch and ask if his offer to answer your questions still stands. Then if he says yes, ask him some questions and go from there. I don't think I would go into detail about depression/anxiety preventing your response. If he asks for an explanation, admit there isn't a good excuse. Maybe tell him you were worried about becoming a nuisance since you weren't actually in the program? Or that you had distractions and let more time slip by then you wanted?
Posted 21 March 2012 - 10:50 PM
Posted 21 March 2012 - 10:58 PM
Posted 22 March 2012 - 02:05 AM
Posted 22 March 2012 - 04:29 AM
Not starting a serious dialog until you're into the program doesn't seem crazy to me. (I felt really awkward when I met with a professor to essentially ask, "If I get accepted into the school, and if I make it through the years of coursework,then three years from now would you be willing to supervise my research?"... fortunately it seemed like a pretty normal thing for him.)
I think you could split the difference -- not an apology, but an explanation of why you're contacting him now:
"Dear Prof. X,
I became interested in your research last fall, and this was a motivator for my application to ______ grad program. Now that I got accepted into the program and have decided to attend, would you be willing to answer some questions I have?"
This could be interpreted as a first email or a follow-up with a justified delay (waiting to be in the program before bugging the prof), so it might cover you either way.
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