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Mentioning Professors in the Statement of Purpose


cwe93

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So here's my situation: I finished and submitted a PhD application to UCLA a few weeks ago. Everything's fine with my personal statement except for that 1 out of the 3 professors that I mentioned I was interested in working with left at the end of last semester and is apparently not there anymore (would've been nice if they updated their faculty website before the app. deadline).

Will this negatively impact my application at all (i.e., not knowing the professor left last semester)? More generally, has anyone heard anything from any PhD admissions committees on how much specific mentions of certain professors plays into their decisions?

Thanks!!!

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I think it's really irritating that depts and profs never seem to update webpages, especially with something important like that. There was one professor who I was really interested in, but I heard from other people that she was leaving the university that I was planning on applying to (and going to the UK!). The site mentioned NOTHING about that! I decided against mentioning her in my SOP. I would have contacted her, but it was already pretty late in the application process, she wasn't my primary interest, I trust what I heard from my colleagues, etc.

I don't know for certain, but I assume it just says that you weren't in touch with that specific professor. That isn't necessarily bad. The only way you could have known is if you had either emailed them or heard word on the street about their departure. Did you contact the other professors? If they know who you are, and you conversed with them, it probably won't matter. Again, this is just what I'm thinking, so I could be wrong.

I think that mentioning specific professors shows you did your homework and you're not applying randomly. It'd also show that you have direction. I haven't heard adcom opinions on mentioning specific professors, so perhaps other people on the forum will share, if they have any insight.

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Yeah, I corresponded with the other 2 prof.'s via e-mail, and I didn't receive a reply from the one that's gone now (which makes sense looking back on it), but I didn't think much of it since 2/3 replies was pretty good based on other prof.'s that I e-mailed at other schools. It is really interesting though how much it seems to vary from school to school on how important the personal statement (or statement of purpose) is; some prof.'s I've talked to say it's THE most important thing while others say it doesn't matter as long as you sound coherent. I'd be interested on anyone's insights on this, too!

(thanks for the reply, katerific! :D )

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A lot of programs I applied to base admissions decisions by committee, so it shouldn't be too much of a factor that your preferred professor left the university. There must be some kind of overlap between research topics, and adcoms know that potential students aren't too committed to their interests and that most are probably just making up BS just to seem interested.

You should be fine!

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I don't think not knowing a prof left will be a huge blow, especially if he was only one of the ones you mentioned in your SoP.

That said, I think mentioning them in the SoP is a huge factor in admission- I know I had my application at one school forwarded to each prof I mentioned during the app process, and I have a strong feeling that one of them being interested in me played a large roll in the offer I received.

If nothing else (as mentioned above) it shows that you've done your homework on the school, and it helps to show your fit with the program.

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