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How can I do better next time?



I'm an international student waiting to hear from McGill, Ottawa, Queens and Waterloo. I have applied for a researched based masters program in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) with a specialization in Computer Vision. My application was done somewhat in a rush (under 8 weeks). I also didn't realize that contacting professors is necessary to get into a research based program so I'm somewhat skeptical I will get in.

My profile is:

GPA: 82% (First Class) from a UK university. Every university seems to make their own equivalency but my guess is it ranges from 3.7 to 4.0.

Research Experience: I do not have any formal research experience unless we count my project in my Bachelors. I do, however, have extensive work experience (6 years) in the specialization I am seeking (Computer Vision) which I elaborate on in my SOP. It is extremely difficult for me to gain research experience before the next cycle due to 1) my job 2) next to no opportunities in the country I live in.

Letters or Recommendation: Very strong (I think). However, the culture of writing letters in the UK is very different compared to what is expected in North America. The letters are brief and mention my ability to take on a graduate degree and that I was a good student. One letter is from my advisor for first 2 years of my degree and another is from the head of department. 3rd letter is from my employer.


SOP: Strong, elaborates on my work in the past 6 years.

Question: how can I make my profile stronger for the next cycle?


Edited by PsychedelicBreakfast
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We still don't know the results of your applications and I also didn't apply for canadian programs so I can only offer some points that I think might help if you decide to apply again. In terms of LOR you could ask to sit with the letter writers and review with them the things you'd like to be included. This could give you a chance to see the formatting and also give you varied letters. I.e. each letter writer focused on a different skillset for me(research, classroom, service) but included some other things of other writers for overlap. In order to do this I gave each a facts sheet of things they were at liberty to include and added different aspects in each sheet. SOP, you say it elaborates on your work in the past 6 years but does it speak to the future work you hope to do and how you plan to achieve it? The past is important in that it prepares you for the research that you wanted to do. I was told people liked my SOP because I had a clear vision of what I wanted to work on and a general action plan even if I didn't stick to it.

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2 hours ago, Elephas said:

 In terms of LOR you could ask to sit with the letter writers and review with them the things you'd like to be included.

Unfortunately, this is not possible for me. I live in a different country than my referees. I can hope to explain it to them via email but my fear is that they'll be offended and I won't have any other referees to go to. I am very fortunate they remember me at all after six years! I like the idea about a fact-sheet, is it possible for you to elaborate on that?

Regarding the SOP: Actually, all the schools I applied had SOP in a Q&A form in the online app. So in one section I answered about my work experience and in another I presented a problem I want to research in my masters. Unfortunately, one school's app didn't really give me enough space to really elaborate so I could only relay what I wanted to work on by quoting a few papers of a professors. I'm not sure how clear my vision was because even though I have worked in the area before I still don't know what is the 'cutting edge'.

But for the next round, I will have a huge amount of time to prepare and familiarize myself with the cutting edge work and hopefully prepare a more focused SOP.


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Sure I posted more about it before here's a link with the template I used.

Especially since you're far removed providing something like this could give them more details to fill your letter with rather than trying to vaguely remember something from before.

Your idea to familiarize with current work to develop your SOP seems like a great idea. Keeping a running document with drafts as you alter your SOP is helpful also. For each university I customized my intended research slightly differently based on who I wanted to work with so that may help also.

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