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Emailing Professors at Schools to which You apply

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So I've seen in a number of places that it's a good idea to reach out to professors at Universities to which you'll be applying. I've thought about this, but then thought again...what would I say? Hi there. I'm going to be applying to your school and I think you're really neat. I particularly liked Blah Blah article and hope that one day I may work with you.

Is that what you do? Anyone done this or have thoughts on it?


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I've been doing this, and I've gotten some fairly positive responses. Basically I say that I'm applying to their school next year and interested in their research x, y, and z. I also ask if they will be accepting new students. This is helpful both because I can find out if it's worth applying, and it sort of makes the e-mail a bit more than a "Hi, I think you're really great." It also gives them more incentive to e-mail me back, because I did ask a genuine question.

I recommend e-mailing professors you'd be interested in working with, but keep it short. No more that one or two short paragraphs should suffice.

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I highly recommend doing this. I emailed five different professors at five different universities and only three got back to me--UCRiverside, Minnesota-Twin Cities, and UDel. I emailed them with a basic, "Hi my name is ____. I am a student at __________ who is majoring in ____ and planning to graduate in the spring. I've ntoiced my research interests match yours, esepcially article blah blah blah... am inquiring as to whether or not you are accepting students next year. Look forward to hearing from you" etc.

It ended up being one of the best things I did because a.) I was able to get 3 phone interviews before even applying. I found out that UCR wasn't even worth applying to since I talked to my POI and ended up not meshing well with her at all. UMinn's person gave me a recently published article and told me to critique her work and tell her what she did/didn't do well. And UDel prof was constantly in contact with me whenever I asked her something. They all remembered me when my app came through.

It does help.

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As others noted, just keep the email short and sweet. The profs are usually glad to hear from prospective students, but they are buried under 100s of emails daily. If you can take it a step farther, find out what conferences they are attending and try and meet them there.

This PhD application season will most likely be as competitive as last year. I did the conference thing SOLELY to meet with potential programs, and it has already paid off handsomely. Give yourself as many opportunities to become more than just a "name on a piece of paper". I now have my school list down to 3-4, and will be doing campus visits PRIOR to app deadlines. While this is expensive, I have a low GRE and need as much in my corner as I can!

Good luck in contacting them!

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